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What makes North Carolina a great golf state

Here's what makes North Carolina one of the country's best golf states

When the PGA Championship arrived at Quail Hollow in Charlotte in August, it marked just the sixth time a men's major has been contested in the Tar Heel State.

With North Carolina being such a golf-rich state, that's a bit of a surprise.

Here's a look at the five men's majors played in North Carolina, along with the venue and the champion (a seventh is scheduled for 2024, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2):

  • 2014 U.S. Open, Pinehurst Resort, Course No. 2, Martin Kaymer
  • 2005 U.S. Open, Pinehurst Resort, Course No. 2, Michael Campbell
  • 1999 U.S. Open, Pinehurst Resort, Course No. 2, Payne Stewart
  • 1974 PGA Championship, Tanglewood Park, Championship Course, Lee Trevino
  • 1936 PGA Championship, Pinehurst Resort, Course No. 2, Denny Shute

10 great North Carolina golfers 

10. Billy Joe Patton. A fantastic amateur player, Patton is perhaps best known for nearly winning the 1954 Masters. He shot a 71 in the final round, which included an ace on the par-3 sixth hole, and missed out on a playoff with Sam Snead and Ben Hogan by a single shot. Patton was a three-time winner of the North-South Amateur, twice won the Southern Amateur and was a member of five Walker Cup teams. He captained the 1969 Walker Cup team.

9. Peggy Kirk Bell. The first woman voted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame in 2002, Kirk Bell won the 1949 Titleholders Championship, previously an LPGA major. She also owned the popular Pine Needles Resort in Southern Pines, N.C. She was a member of the winning 1950 U.S. Curtis Cup team.

8. Jim Thorpe. A three-time PGA Tour winner, Thorpe also has won 13 times on the PGA Tour Champions, highlighted by his lone major, the 2002 Tradition. With nearly $14 million in career earnings, he's 10th all-time on the PGA Tour Champions money list.

7. Chip Beck. A five-time PGA Tour winner and — get this — a 20-time runner up, Beck spent 40 weeks in the Top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings between 1988 and 1989. Beck was a member of three U.S. Ryder Cup teams and won his singles match in the famous 1991 matches at Kiawah Island. Beck finished second at the 1993 Masters and tied for second in the 1986 and 1989 U.S. Opens.

6. Bobby Clampett. From 1978 to 1980, Clampett was a three-time All-American and two-time Collegiate Golfer of the Year at Brigham Young University. He was also the low amateur at the 1978 U.S. Open and 1979 Masters. His lone PGA Tour win came at the 1982 Southern Open.

5. Scott Hoch. A two-time Ryder Cupper for the U.S. (1997 and 2002), Hoch was consistently one of the Tour's steadiest performers. He won 11 times during his PGA Tour career and has three victories on the PGA Tour Champions.

4. Webb Simpson. Among the four-time PGA Tour winner's victories is the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. Simpson was also a member of the 2012 and 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup teams.

3. Bill Haas. It isn't easy following in the footsteps of a successful father, but that's precisely what Bill has done. His father, Jay, is a nine-time PGA Tour winner. To his credit, Bill has collected six wins already and even clinched the winning point for the 2015 U.S. Presidents Cup team in Korea captained by his father. Bill Haas also won the 2011 Tour Championship, clinching for him the season-long FedExCup Championship and the $10 million bonus that came with it.

2. Davis Love III. This two-time U.S. Ryder Cup captain and 1997 PGA champion attended college at the University of North Carolina where he forged a friendship with Michael Jordan. Love, who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame this year, has racked up 21 PGA Tour victories and was also a member of six Ryder Cup teams.

1. Raymond Floyd. Floyd's four major titles — the 1969 and 1982 PGA Championships, the 1976 Masters and the 1986 U.S. Open — are the most by any player hailing from North Carolina. This World Golf Hall of Famer had 22 PGA Tour wins, played on seven Ryder Cup teams and captained the 1989 team.

The North-South Amateur

Played every year since 1901, the North-South Amateur contested at Pinehurst Resort is one of the most prestigious events in amateur golf. Its list of champions includes several eventual major champions. Here are some notables:

  • 1920, Francis Ouimet (the "Father of Amateur Golf in the U.S. and winner of the 1913 U.S. Open)
  • 1959, Jack Nicklaus (the winningest major champion of all time with 18)
  • 1976 and 1977, Curtis Strange (winner of the 1988 and 1989 U.S. Opens)
  • 1980, Hal Sutton (1983 PGA Champion)
  • 1981, Corey Pavin (1995 U.S. Open champion)
  • 1984, Davis Love III (1997 PGA Champion)
  • 1986, Billy Andrade (four-time PGA Tour winner)
  • 1993, Kelly Mitchum (currently one of the lead instructors at the Pinehurst Golf Academy)

Wake Forest University

The Demon Deacons have won three national golf titles (1974, 1975 and 1986). The list of well-known alums from the Winston-Salem school includes Jay Haas, Billy Andrade, Gary Hallberg, Scott Hoch and Bill Haas, as well as majors champions Arnold Palmer, Lanny Wadkins, Darren Clarke, Curtis Strange and Webb Simpson

The late Palmer, undoubtedly the most famous on that list, has a scholarship that bears his name awarded to Wake Forest golfers. Andrade, Strange, Bill Haas and Simpson all attended the school on an Arnold Palmer Scholarship.

One more "Haas" connection: Jerry Haas, uncle to Bill and brother to Jay, is a former Wake Forest player and has been the school's golf coach since 1997.

PGA Tour events in North Carolina

The Wells Fargo Championship

Typically played at Quail Hollow, the 2017 Wells Fargo moved over to Wilmington and the breathtaking Eagle Point Golf Club in preparation for the PGA Championship. The list of Wells Fargo champions includes David Toms, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy (twice) and Rickie Fowler.

The Wyndham Championship

While it has been played at several different courses, this PGA Tour event dates back to 1938 has always been contested in Greensboro. Tournament winners include Sam Snead (eight times), Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Dow Finsterwald, Billy Casper, Julius Boros, Gary Player, Craig Stadler, Raymond Floyd, Larry Nelson, Lanny Wadkins, Sandy Lyle (twice), Steve Elkington, Mark Brooks, Davis Love III (three times), Rocco Mediate (twice), Hal Sutton, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed.

3 memorable moments in North Carolina golf history

3. Davis Love III's victory in the 2015 Wyndham Championship. At age 51 then, Love became the third-oldest winner in PGA Tour history, trailing only Sam Snead and Art Wall, Jr. The win made Love the oldest PGA Tour winner in the PGA Tour Champions era (since 1980). With that win, Love also became only the third player to win on the tour in four different decades, joining Sam Snead and Raymond Floyd.

2. Michelle Wie's win at the 2014 U.S. Women's Open. Not only was it Wie's only major win to date, it was also the first time that the men's and women's U.S. Open's were played in back-to-back week's at the same venue -- Pinehurst No. 2. A week earlier, Martin Kaymer lapped the field to collect his second major title.

1. Payne Stewart's win in the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Just months before he perished in a horrific plane accident, Stewart claimed the signature win of his career by holing a putt on the 72nd hole to deny Phil Mickelson his first major championship. Stewart's celebratory fist-pump in that moment has been made into a statue at Pinehurst.

Best golf courses in North Carolina

The top 10, based on Golf Digest's best in-state rankings:

  1. Wade Hampton G.C., Cashiers
  2. Pinehurst Resort (No. 2), Pinehurst
  3. Diamond Creek G.C., Banner Elk
  4. Eagle Point G.C., Wilmington
  5. Mountaintop G. & Lake Club, Cashiers
  6. Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte
  7. Old Town Club, Winston-Salem
  8. Grandfather G. & C.C., Linville
  9. Forest Creek G.C. (North), Pinehurst
  10. Charlotte C.C., Charlotte

MORE: Latest Pinehurst jewel, The Cradel, promotes golf and fun

 

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