Pinehurst was founded by Boston soda fountain magnate James Walker Tufts. He purchased 5,500 acres (22 km2) at around a dollar an acre in 1895 and opened the Holly Inn that New Year's Eve. The first golf course was laid out in 1897/98, and the first championship held at Pinehurst was United North and South Amateur Championship of 1901. Pinehurst's best known course, Pinehurst No.2 was completed in 1907 to designs by Donald Ross, who was associated with Pinehurst for nearly half a century.
From 1902 to 1951 Pinehurst was the home of the North and South Open, which was one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the United States at that time. Pinehurst is still home to the annual North and South Amateur Golf Championships, a series of tournaments which includes a Men's Championship inaugurated in 1901 and the Women's Championship that began two years later.
The first PGA Tour major staged at Pinehurst was the 1936 PGA Championship which was won by Denny Shute. In 1951 the resort hosted the Ryder Cup and in 1991 and 1992 it was the venue for The Tour Championship. In 1999 Pinehurst staged its second major, the U.S. Open, which was won by Payne Stewart at the #2 course. It also hosted the 2005 U.S. Open, which was won by New Zealand's Michael Campbell.
In 2011 Pinehurst #2 completed a $2.5 million, year long renovation by a group led by Ben Crenshaw. The goal was to revert the course back to the original Donald Ross design. 
In an unprecedented move, the USGA will bring both the men's and women's U.S. Opens to Pinehurst #2 in 2014. The men will play their Open at its normal time, ending on the third Sunday in June, and the women will play the following week.
The resort now has eight golf courses, three hotels, a spa and extensive sports and leisure facilities. In 1996 Pinehurst was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. It was ranked as the world's largest golf resort by the Guinness World Records before it was surpassed by Mission Hills Golf Club in China.
The No. 2 course is included in the Links and the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game series.
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