I was pleased to see that Pinehurst Resort has brought ice skating to the lawn of the Carolina Hotel in time for the holiday season.
And the club is presenting it in a manner that allows nonmembers to also benefit from this unique skating facility, which is located on the hotel’s west lawn adjacent to the swimming pool.
Located within a white picket fence, the rink itself is not a typical outdoor skating facility, which depends on ice and continuous freezing weather. No, this 2,100-square-foot phenomenon eliminates the need for freezing cold, because it features a strong synthetic surface that can accommodate skaters who use regular ice skates.
For those who are willing to use their imaginations, the new rink should be a place of great fun for young and old. I watched a Carolina Hotel staff member trying it out for the first time on a recent afternoon. She told me that it was a bit slower than real ice, but that it should be safer and very popular with young kids and first-time-skating adults.
It is not cold to touch but conveys the feeling that one gets when on real ice. A glide enhancer applied to the rink’s surface ensures that the skaters will feel as if they are moving on real ice. No special skating equipment is required.
It looks and feels particularly special for the holiday season, featuring festive lights and music. It even has a small snow-making machine above the entranceway, which blows snow onto the rink’s surface. Winter foods and drinks, hot and cold, are served.
Skaters are offered 50-minute sessions on the hour. Skates are provided. Kids and adults can skate for $15 a session. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. weekdays, and 1 to 8 p.m. on weekends. On cold days and evenings, fire pits and patio heaters will keep the skaters and visitors warm.
My late wife, B.J. Dunn, and I have always believed that Pinehurst could possibly benefit from an ice skating program. She had been a professional skater after attending Syracuse, where skating was a big part of the winter scene.
If this modest experiment at the Carolina Hotel clicks, it might suggest to Resort’s management or village officials that there could be future ice skating opportunities in Pinehurst.
North Carolina already has large ice-skating facilities located in Clinton, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Indian Trail, Rocky Mount, Greenville, Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort.
Some are refrigerated outdoor facilities. They offer skating, youth and adult hockey, and figure skating. Throughout the United States and Canada, amateur, college and professional ice hockey are alive and well. TV viewing is strong, fans are incredibly loyal, and arena attendance is typically sold out at every venue.
When the Tufts family initially developed Pinehurst Resort operations, visitors were offered many more recreational options than are provided today. In the early days, riding, archery, polo, hunting, fishing, tennis, lawn bowling, croquet and a world-class gun club were all part of the offering.
The business ultimately concentrated on tennis, lawn bowling, croquet, golf and more golf — until today there are nine world-class golf courses available to play.
Might the village of Pinehurst’s future recreational menu benefit from ice skating, figure skating and ice hockey? It might not fit Resort’s marketing strategies, but it could perhaps enhance the municipality’s already comprehensive recreation programs, which include popular adult in-line night hockey and a youth in-line hockey league and clinics.
Meanwhile, let’s see how many are willing to lace up and sample the new rink at the hotel over the next few weeks. The novel experiment will end Jan. 11.