The United States Golf Association (USGA) plans to create a multi-building research and testing campus in the Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced today. The USGA’s “Golf House Pinehurst” will become the home for the USGA Foundation’s operations and include a visitor center and museum.
The association plans to invest up to $36 million in the campus, which will employ a 50-person workforce. Part of the USGA commitment to North Carolina includes regularly bringing the men’s and women’s U.S. Open tournaments to Pinehurst and a host of other high-profile tournaments to courses across the state.
“This new USGA hub along with the assured rotation of the U.S. Open in Pinehurst will bring jobs and millions of tourism dollars to our state. North Carolina’s golf history is legendary and this adds to the luster,” said Governor Cooper.
Today, golf generates $2.3 billion in direct spending in North Carolina, according to a 2017 economic impact analysis by the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association. The sport deploys a workforce of 53,000 in the state, generating a $1.3 billion annual payroll impact.
Founded in 1894, USGA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that acts as the governing body for golf worldwide. It produces and interprets the rules of golf and tests golf equipment for compliance with regulations. In addition to providing a national handicap system for golfers, USGA conducts 14 national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open. The organization is based in Liberty Corner, New Jersey.
“There is no better place for the USGA to plant new roots than the beautiful and iconic Home of American Golf,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “Thanks to the vision of North Carolina, Moore County and Pinehurst leaders, we are taking a bold step forward and forging a long-term commitment that will elevate our championships, foster greater innovation in golf, and ultimately help grow the game. We look forward to building on our nearly 100-year history in this region, and growing our relationships with the leadership, golf community and residents of this great state.”
Pinehurst has a storied history in the emergence of golf as a national pastime. The Village is a product of Boston soda fountain magnate James Walker Tufts’ 1895 purchase of 598 acres in Moore County as the site for a new resort. In 1900, Tufts brought in Scottish immigrant Donald Ross to design the resort’s first golf course and serve as golf pro. Ross would go on to design 45 North Carolina golf courses.
The USGA estimates the economic impact of the move will result in a $2 billion economic impact for North Carolina over the next 25 years.
“The USGA’s plans for this significant new presence in Pinehurst elevates the Village’s reputation in the golfing world and enhances North Carolina’s prestige as a destination for both businesses and tourists,” said Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland. “Today’s news will add new energy to the leisure and hospitality services and significantly contribute to the long-term recovery of that important segment of our economy.”
Prior to the onset of COVID-19 and the social distancing measures that followed, North Carolina’s leisure and hospitality services industry, which includes lodging, events, food service and recreational activities, employed 535,800 workers. The number fell by more than half in March and April of this year before rebounding sharply in May and June. As of July, the sector employed 366,300 in the state, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, remaining down 28 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Office of the Governor led a collaborative effort to support USGA’s selection of North Carolina for the investment. Other key partners were the North Carolina General Assembly, Moore County, the Village of Pinehurst, Moore County Partners in Progress, North Carolina’s Southeast and the Pinehurst Resort.