It was the brainchild of our late Mayor George Lane: to open and operate a Welcome Center for visitors to our charming village. The idea became a reality several years ago as the Welcome Center was established in the Woman’s Exchange, across from The Village Chapel.
Now it has moved into the Theatre Building, opening in mid- March. The design, layout and information available are professionally done and very impressive. Besides closets and a back office, there are three rooms that beckon visitors.
The first is a small conference room that can be used by villagers provided they get permission from the village staff. This room has a coffee maker, and the large glass window provides a view of the old post office and shops.
The main room has a desk for Welcome Center volunteers and shelves of maps and brochures loaded with village information. The round table in the room has a top that shows a large-scale view of the center of Pinehurst.
And the third room is a lounge/library offering videos of the history of Pinehurst, as well as an interesting collection of books.
These include “Golf Has Never Failed Me” and “Golf, As It Was Meant To Be Played,” by Donald Ross; “The Scottish Invasion,” by Richard S. Tufts; “The Golden Age of Pinehurst,” “The Spirit of Pinehurst” and “Pinehurst Stories, A Celebration of Great Golf and Good Times,” by Lee Pace; “The Pinehurst Country Club,” by Ken Boyd; “Pinehurst: Golf, History and the Good Life,” by Audrey Moriarty; “Pinehurst, A Brief Description of the Leading Health and Recreation Resort of the South,” by Leonard Tufts; and “The Legendary Evolution of Pinehurst, Home of American Golf,” by Richard Mandell.
I particularly recommend Audrey Moriarty’s book, because it is very readable and comprehensive. It is for sale at the Tufts Archives for about $27.
At present, there are 55 volunteers for the Welcome Center, including some local dignitaries and yours truly. I enjoy talking to visitors and answering their questions. It reminds me of when I lived in London going out for lunch in Piccadilly Square when English people from the country would ask me for directions and I would surprisingly accurately reply with my American accent.
When people walk in, I always ask them where they are from — after asking, “Can I help you?” Quite often a local person is showing off the center to an out-of-town visitor.
An effort is being made to count true visitors, excluding local residents who stop in. Rough data shows that April’s visitors were 13 percent more than March’s. It also shows that Fridays are the busiest Welcome Center days, followed by Saturdays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
By no means is this meant to discourage local folks who are interested in taking a look at the center. I have noticed that when locals visit, they are filled with pride at what the village has done with this concept.
Guests who enter the center are met by a wall covered with Southern pine trees that look so real it makes you think you are in the confines of a real forest. On the same wall are mural-like photographs of different aspects of village life taken by John Gessner.
Some of these show Bob Cherry, international croquet winner; Ben Crenshaw coming out of a Course No. 2 bunker; Molly and Heather Phordsher playing tennis; a zumba class at the FirstHealth Fitness Center; a Pinehurst Resort wine and food festival; and maestro David Michael Wolff of the Carolina Philharmonic.
The Welcome Center project is a source of great pride for the people who have brought it, and are bringing it, to life.