News of a potential USGA move to Pinehurst began to surface last week after state lawmakers passed the Championship N.C. Act, which will provide as much as $18 million in incentives to a then-unnamed “sport championship employer.’’ Gov. Roy Cooper signed the bill on Sept. 4.
“It was a bipartisan effort in the North Carolina General Assembly,’’ said state Sen. Tom McGinnis, a Republican from Richmond County. “No one person gets the glory along for this fabulous announcement. Folks in the House, Senate, county of Moore, village of Pinehurst along with Pinehurst Resort and the USGA — it was a team effort.’’
It was a team effort that actually began last August while the USGA was sponsoring the 119th U.S. Amateur Championship at Pinehurst Resort, according to N.C. Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland.
“I remember a year ago in August riding with Gov. Cooper, and we met with (Pinehurst Resort owner) Bob Dedman and some from the USGA team about initiating what we are seeing the results of today,’’ Copeland said. “We are ecstatic.’’
Most of the details of the plan became public Tuesday evening when the USGA gave details during a public hearing with the Moore County Board of Commissioners and later the Pinehurst village council. This all preceded Wednesday’s fanfare.
The official name for the USGA’s presence will be Golf House Pinehurst. The project will be a $25 million investment by the organization that will include constructing two buildings near Pinehurst Resort that will house 50 staff members. Staffers based in Pinehurst will include those involved in championship operations, research and test center personnel and green section teams.
Groundbreaking on those projects will start in the spring of 2022, according to USGA CEO Mike Davis, and they will be completed by 2023.
Along with the offices, the USGA’s Equipment Testing Standards Test Center dedicated to testing golf balls and clubs will be relocated to Pinehurst. The campus will also serve as the USGA’s base for innovation, research and science in collaboration with in-state universities.
A golf museum and visitors center will also be built but won’t replace the recently renovated USGA Museum and Library in New Jersey.
“We are honored to welcome the USGA to a second home in Pinehurst and the cradle of American golf,’’ said Dedman, whose company purchased Pinehurst Resort in 1984. “When the USGA was founded in 1894, Pinehurst was born a year later. Our two storied organizations have nurtured the game of golf since our inceptions.
“We are humbled to be named the first U.S. Open anchor site. Following our next open in 2024, we’ll have hosted eight U.S. Opens in less than 50 years, which is a testament to our partnership with the USGA. We look forward to not only more U.S. Opens but many other USGA championships being hosted here in Pinehurst.
“Bill Campbell, a four-time North & South (Amateur) champion, once said Pinehurst is not just a state of mind, it’s a state of heart. We’re looking forward to sharing our heart and soul at the Home of American golf one day at a time.’’
A major part of the agreement that was revealed Wednesday will see the USGA make the Pinehurst Resort’s famed No. 2 Course an anchor for its most prestigious championship — the U.S. Open. In addition to the 2024 U.S. Open that is already scheduled at No. 2, the USGA has named the course designed by renowned architect Donald Ross as the U.S. Open host in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.