Pinehurst Population Swells for the 124th US Open

June 14, 2024 | Written by: Campbell Wheby

golf course green with blue sky and golf cart

Just south of Sanford, as you leave Lee County and enter Moore, lies the charming village of Pinehurst. With a population of 17,581 (2020 census), this quaint location has earned the prestigious designation of “Home of American Golf” by the United States Golf Association. This week, Pinehurst will see an unprecedented influx of over 250,000 visitors, all converging for the 124th US Open. The excitement is palpable as fans and players alike gather for the first US Open at Pinehurst in a decade. Remarkably, this is the fourth US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 within a 25-year span, an unmatched achievement.


The influx of golf enthusiasts has extended its impact to Lee County, which boasts four golf courses just 30 miles from Pinehurst. SAGA sought to explore the economic impact of the US Open on these local courses and conducted interviews with representatives from each.


At Tobacco Road Golf Club, General Manager Scooter Buhrman reported significant increases in demand at the 1998 Mike Strantz-designed course. With more corporate outings booked and a daily sell-out expected, Buhrman anticipates 172 golfers each day. The unique design and “bucket list” appeal of Tobacco Road, coupled with its on-site lodging, ensure its popularity year-round.


Dale Fogarty, Head Professional at The Golf Club at Quail Ridge, praised the condition of the greens on the 1967 Ellis Maples course. He noted a 10% increase in weekday bookings and a rise in package play during the Open. SAGA discovered that Quail Ridge’s grill offers excellent food and a scenic spot to overlook the course, making it a pleasant destination for golfers and non-golfers alike.


Sanford’s Municipal Golf Course, managed by David Von Canon, is also seeing an uptick in traffic due to the US Open. Designed by Donald Ross in 1934, the course typically welcomes about 150 players daily. Ross, one of golf’s greatest course designers, may sound familiar as he was also the designer of Pinehurst No. 2 in 1907. The inviting porch, perfect for enjoying a beverage while overlooking the course, adds to its appeal as a city amenity.


Carolina Trace Golf Course, featuring two Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed courses from the 1970s, is set to handle an increase to 250 golfers per day. Assistant Golf Professional Jeff Taylor highlighted the stunning lake view from the practice green and shared that bookings have surged in conjunction with the US Open. Golf Digest recently ranked Carolina Trace #20 among public courses in North Carolina, and it remains accessible to all, regardless of residency or club membership.


As always, SAGA highlights the interconnectedness of our community and the positive influence major events like the US Open can have on local economies. The economic impact of the US Open extends beyond the golf courses, benefiting numerous businesses in Lee County. Our interviews revealed that local courses are thriving and expect a welcome boost from the event. The ripple effect is significant, with courses referring visiting golfers to local restaurants, lodging, activities, and services, emphasizing the importance of supporting the Sanford and Lee County area businesses.

Crystal Gaddy, Business Retention and Expansion Manager