Dandy Dozen: Your Sandhills To-Do List During the U.S. Amateur

Brad King, Travel Contributor

The Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen area of North Carolina has amassed a legacy of golf unlike any other place in the country. Here you’ll find the state’s finest golf courses, world-class dining and shopping, outdoor adventures, equestrian facilities and more.

Now, the 2019 U.S. Amateur is here this week — August 12-18 — at Pinehurst Country Club in the Village of Pinehurst. This national championship will be the third U.S. Amateur contested at Pinehurst and the first since 2008. The 2019 edition will also be the 10th USGA championship to be hosted by the club and the ninth since 1989. (In 2024, the U.S. Open will return to Pinehurst No. 2 and will be the 11th USGA championship to be hosted by the resort — the 10th in the last 35 years.)

Globally recognized as a bucket list golf destination, our area tees up an equally impressive list of to-dos while you are visiting for the U.S. Amateur. Here’s a dozen of our recommendations:

Pose with Payne

Snap a photo beside the iconic statue of 1999 U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart overlooking the 18thgreen of Pinehurst No. 2, one of the Pinehurst Resort & CC’s two courses — along with No. 4 — that will be playing host to this year’s U.S. Amateur. If you’re limber enough, you can try to recreate Payne’s classic, celebratory pose from that unforgettable moment in golf history.

Shop and sight-see in the Village

Pinehurst Resort is located in The Village of Pinehurst, which was developed by James Walker Tufts in 1895. Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park, created the Village to mirror a New England-style village with winding paths that encourage exploration. Today, this designated National Historic Landmark is ideal for just that: exploring the unique boutiques, gift shops and dining venues, along with the historic village homes and cottages.

Enjoy a Safari Tour

At the Aloha Safari Zoo in Cameron, visitors can see and feed animals such as bison, zebra, an ostrich, antelope, donkeys, llamas, water buffalo, camels — or find themselves face to face with tigers, a bear, wolves, monkeys and other exotic animals. You can also visit and feed the zoo’s most well-known inhabitant, “Stretch the Giraffe.” No reservations are required and everyone is welcome to visit anytime during the zoo’s open hours.

Grab a brew 

The Sandhills region features a wide array of outstanding watering holes, particularly as the craft beer scene has rapidly grown in the area. At the resort, The Deuce has been called the best 19th hole in golf, with a veranda view overlooking Pinehurst No. 2’s famed finishing hole.

At the Southern Pines Brewing Company, the atmosphere is relaxed and fun, and there is always something new with their specialty brews.

Cue the ‘Q

Set just off the runway of the Gilliam-McConnell Airfield in the county seat town of Carthage, the Pik-n-Pig is a family-owned establishment whose menu will have your mouth watering for not only barbecue, but also a slew of other Southern comfort food favorites. Three generations of love, sweat and tears, all on one plate … BBQ simply doesn’t get much better than this.

Research area history

Located within The Given Library, across from The Holly Inn, is the Tufts Archives, which displays the rich heritage and history of Pinehurst, including original maps of Donald Ross’s courses, photos of The Village since 1895 and various artifacts from the Village founders. Visitors will also find James W. Tufts’ original marble and silver 19th century soda fountain machine and more than 125,000 historic images.

Drink — and eat — at the Pinehurst Brewing Company

U.S. Amateur fans will have to return to Pinehurst to enjoy two of our favorite pastimes: rolling the rock on the resort’s massive Thistle Dhu putting green or knocking it close at the inviting, nine-hole short-course, The Cradle (both will be temporarily closed during the competition). For now, try a bite and a brew at the new Pinehurst Brewing Company, just a short stroll away.

Discover Pottery of the Sandhills

Seagrove — and the uniquely named hamlets that surround it in rural Randolph County — actually refers to a region of artisans that has made the area one of the nation’s largest communities of craftsmen. Part of Seagrove’s allure lies in its singular history and high concentration of potters. The other, particularly for the uninitiated, lies in the experience itself.

Antique shopping

Cameron is an historic village located near the middle of the state and listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Featured in Southern Living and voted “Best Antique Shopping” by Our State magazine readers, Cameron is well worth a visit. Home to numerous antique shops, Cameron is a destination for collectors, tradespeople — and those interested in local history.

Experience Carolinas golf history

The rich history of golf in the Carolinas has a home at the Xan Law, Jr. Hall of History at Carolinas Golf House in Southern Pines, across the street from Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club. The collection of clubs, scorecards, photographs, trophies and people who have made the Carolinas one of the most popular areas in the country make this a ‘must stop’ on any itinerary.

Shop in downtown Southern Pines

Strolling the main streets of Southern Pines, you’ll find an abundance of quality shop owners providing unique and specialized products. Local and memorable dining along the way, as well. The combination of innovative restaurants and an abundance of local farms offering a variety of homegrown products has created a “Farm to Table” boom in the Home of American Golf.

Hike Around a Lake

At Reservoir Park in Southern Pines, there is a 2.1-mile trail — sandy-gravel most of the way — around the lake that offers several stops with benches to rest or simply enjoy the view. Those interested in expanding their exercise can branch off on several different trails that will add distance and views of nature. Along with plenty of parking and public bathrooms, the lake allows kayaking, fishing and paddle boarding, and features a disc golf course and picnic area.