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Pinehurst pubs and inns provide historic link to golf vacation destination

By Tom Spousta, Contributor

PINEHURST, N.C. - These are golf's universal staples of a post-round meal: A sandwich and an iced tee, a burger and a beer or - this time of year in the Village of Pinehurst - a hot holiday drink and an order of Scotch eggs.

Magnolia Inn pub
The perfect stool at Magnolia Inn's pub? By 1994 U.S. Senior Open winner Simon Hobday's nameplate on the far left side of the bar.
Magnolia Inn pubPine Crest Inn - PinehurstDarling House Pub

Every worthwhile golf vacation destination has its signature bars or pub row, those places that fit golfers like a cushy robe and fluffy slippers. In Pinehurst, it's as easy as hitting these four watering holes located about 100 yards of each other.

Since famed architect Donald Ross owned the place for 27 years until his death in 1948, it's only sensible you either start or finish at the Pine Crest Inn (www.pinecrestinnpinehurst.com). The room where Ross designed many of his golf courses is still there. His portrait hangs over the fireplace, where a board with a hole cut in the center stands at the ready and chipping contests tend to break out spontaneously.

Name a great player from any era, and he or she has probably drank, ate or stayed at Pine Crest Inn, and on busy nights, you'll find somebody with a story to tell about its famous patrons.

(To get the full Ross affect, before teeing off at Pinehurst No. 2 and heading to the Pine Crest, spend a couple hours pouring over the Ross Collection at Tufts Archives down the street. It features many of his course sketches, layouts, blueprints, memorabilia and personal papers. But back to the pubs ...)

Darling House (www.darlinghousepub.com) served a tasty order of Scotch eggs and has those high, cozy wooden booths if you don't want to sit at the bar. The Darling clan's family tree traces itself from 1293 in River Tweed, Scotland, and includes ancestors coming to America on the Mayflower.

Dugan's (2 Market Square, tel. 910-295-3400) remodeled itself to reflect an authentic Irish pub, and they deliver with several fish and chip dishes and a great sandwich board. True to its pedigree, you can get some pretty good pours here, too.

The historic Magnolia Inn (www.themagnoliainn.com) was established in 1896, or a year after James Walker Tufts bought the land that became Pinehurst.

The pub has its own entrance around the back of the building. I had the perfect stool, the one looking out the window in front of Simon Hobday's nameplate on the far left side of the bar. Apparently, Hobday earned this honor by spending time at this spot during the week he won the 1994 U.S. Senior Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Magnolia's pub also serves one of the heftiest burgers in town.

If you can hit a wedge 100 yards, that's all you'll need to navigate one of the best pub destinations in golf.

Tom SpoustaTom Spousta, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tom Spousta keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. He has covered golf and other sports for USA Today and The New York Times. Tom lives on a Donald Ross-designed golf course in Sarasota, Fla.

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Dates: February 18, 2018 - September 30, 2018
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