News & Opinion

Cars, courage and concert – the Pinehurst way

Few would argue that Pebble Beach, Amelia Island and Pinehurst are three of the most iconic golf resorts in North America. The trio also share another prominent position that really has nothing to do with sinking a putt.  

The scenic locations host three of the most prestigious concours events in the country. Although Pebble Beach’s and Amelia Island’s vintage car showcases measure their success in decades, the Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance is a mere infant, celebrating its fifth anniversary on Saturday.

For several reasons – one of which is a popular post-awards concert that has featured Three Dog Night and The Commodores in past years and country star Sara Evans this year – the Pinehurst Concours has attracted a strong field of world-class cars and judges that are charged with awarding a “best of show” from more than 100 spectacular pieces of rolling history. (General-admission tickets, which include the Sara Evans concert, are available for $50 each at www.pinehurstconcours.com.)

The event also has staged an Iron Mike Rally to nearby Fort Bragg each year as a way to thank the troops and their families for their service. More than 40 vintage cars make the trip from Carolina Vista Drive to the nation’s most-populous Army base on Friday for a free up-close preview of some of the rare automobiles.   

If you’ve been to Pinehurst for any of the U.S. Opens that the resort hosted in 1999, 2005 and 2014, the Pinehurst Concours showfield is located on the two holes that served as the practice range for the national open.

Those who enter the Pinehurst Concours gates walk up a small hill, and upon reaching the crest, are in for a special treat. 

“Our venue presents itself very well as you walk through the so-called door,” said Pinehurst Concours president Jay Howard. “It is no different than walking through the vomitory of an arena or a stadium; once you break the seal of the bowl, what you see is what you get. And patrons can easily navigate the experience even if it’s your first time at the Pinehurst Concours.”

There are more than 30 concours of varying sizes dotted across the country, but the Big Three seemingly have found a welcoming home at prestigious golf courses. 

Why?

“Presentation, logistics, environment,” Howard said. “There are some cultural similarities, but just because someone is a collector-car hobbyist doesn’t mean they are a golfer. But someone who is going to Pinehurst Resort, if they are not an aficionado of collector cars, they are probably friends with somebody who is and vice versa.”

One of the highlights of this year’s event is the 2013 and 2016 Best of Show winners – two of the rarest-vintage automobiles in the world – returning as display vehicles for patrons to enjoy.

The 1938 Steyr 220 Glaser Roadster, the event’s inaugural winner, and the 1928 Isotta Fraschini, last year’s champion, are owned by Peter Boyle of Oil City, Pa.

“Pinehurst is such a beautiful place for a Concours,” Boyle said. “It really is the very best on the East Coast.”

For the last decade or so, Pinehurst Resort has reached beyond its nine golf courses to compete with new resorts, adding a popular spa and recently a series of new pools. And a par-3 short course is on the way. The Pinehurst Concours is viewed by many of the resort members, locals and those who travel to the Sandhills from Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte as another great amenity.

“Pebble’s Concours and Pebble Golf Resort have matured at the same rate over the last 65 years,” Howard said. “We walked in to a brand that was far more mature than our concours, and our concours has benefited from the maturity and credibility of the Pinehurst marque.

“One of our keys is ease of access,” Howard said. “Today some events are difficult to attend – whether it is traffic, parking or admission charge. The hurdles are low to go and attend the Pinehurst Concours, and the benefit is great.”

Dave Droschak, a former Associated Press sports writer in North Carolina, is the editor of Triad Golf Today, Triangle Golf Today and the communications director for Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance. Email: ddroschak@earthlink.net