Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If Ty Webb Owned An Inn: Pinehurst's Pinecrest Inn (reshown)

"I don't play golf against people...for money."
- Ty Webb
"What are you, religious or something?"
- Al Czervik
To paraphrase Caddyshack's Ty Webb, Pinehurst's Pinecrest Inn is not just about golf or making money. For decades, the Pinecrest Inn has provided a home away from home for golfers who want a relaxing atmosphere, great food and good times at a cut-rate price.

The village of Pinehurst in the Sandhills region of North Carolina is famous for golf. Specifically, Pinehurst Resort's course Pinehurst No. 2. It is perhaps one of the four or five most famous courses in the world and is rich with history. It captures the essence and history of golf as only St. Andrews, Augusta National and Pebble Beach do in the minds of golfers everywhere.

So many memories echo through the quiet fairways and streets of this little village. Who can forget Payne Stewart's putt that won the 1999 U.S. Open?
But, in a sense, the village of Pinehurst is more than that. It is one of the centers of the golf universe; a keeper of its history and its soul. The village was constructed a century ago when the resort was laid out and appears much as is did then. New England shingle style architecture is scattered along its tidy blocks. It is a relaxing place to shop and enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants. The majestic, genteel hotel The Carolina anchors the village and is the center of the action.
It is wonderful and my family has stayed there many times. The Holly Inn, Magnolia Inn and Manor Inn are also great. But none of these are trailer trad. However, the little-known Pine Crest Inn is also a vital part of the village's soul and is, quite definitely, trailer trad.

The Pine Crest Inn has quietly served its patrons in the shadow of its larger, more proper sister hotel The Carolina since it opened in 1913. The revered Father of Golf Course Design, Donald Ross, owned The Pinecrest (it's true) for many years but it has been owned since 1961 by the Barrett family. This stubborn family ownership has instilled a warm, familiar quality to the establishment. There seems to be little interest in injecting a 'luxury' or 'exclusive' experience when staying at the Pinecrest. Then what do you get when you get your room key (that's 'key' not card) at the creaky front desk?
Well, you get a very pleasant room in the exact center of the Village. And you get a great breakfast AND dinner for much, much less that you'd expect to pay. Granted, you'll not find the latest in fusion cuisine (whatever that is). On the other hand, some of the kitchen staff have been cooking there since golf was telecast in black and white nd it's good, old-fashioned southern cooking.

The Lounge, off to the right of the front desk, was not designed by Ralph Lauren. It doesn't look like an English library or golf museum. It's been renovated in recent years (or so they say) but an interior decorator would definitely be puzzled by the lack of cohesive 'vision.' -But, for a 'Nineteenth Hole', isn't that the best vision of all? The bar staff are old-school. Been there and done that and quick with a joke. The lounge gets very crowded and spills over into the lobby and out onto the veranda. Nightly. -Folks in this joint have been around a cocktail.

In case that's not enough, the lobby hosts a couple of attractions that set it apart. First, don't leave your chipping wedge in the bag. In front of the hearth in the lobby is a wooden target with a hole in the middle. Guys who have chipped into the hole read like a who's who of trad golf and, according to legend, Ben Crenshaw holds the record score.

The second selling point is the live music performing most nights in the lobby. But it's not just any live music. There's a guy who has been playing a portable electric piano there for years. Cheeztastic stuff like 'Ebony n Ivory' as well as danceable beach music classics. He's awesome.

It's no secret that over 80% of guests are repeat customers. -And the rest are probably word of mouth. This lends the place a slightly clubby atmosphere; like it's a frat house and you're pledging that weekend. But that's OK. It's a frat you'll want to join.

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