The Longleaf Legacy
After their renowned marriage in the fall of 1948, Lloyd Patrick (“June Bug”) Tate and tobacco and textile heiress Anne Cannon Reynolds purchased a 457-acre plot in Southern Pines and created Starland Farm, a horse training center and racetrack where the horses were the “stars” themselves. Starland Farm thrived, soon becoming a training ground for some of the region’s top horses.
For decades, Starland Farms was acclaimed for its beautiful countryside, state of the art facilities, and its roster of elite horses that found success at all levels of racing.
The culture of the farm was distinctly Pinehurst as well. The twenty-stall white stucco barn with its distinctive roof was designed by Pinehurst cartographer R.E. (“Rassie”) Wicker, an historian and self-made engineer. Another local Pinehurst builder, A.B. Sally, constructed the barn. That barn, along with vestiges of the one-mile racetrack, steeplechase track, and three-quarter mile turf track can still be seen throughout the property today.
From Racing to Sport: The Birth of Longleaf Golf and Country ClubIn 1987, a development group purchased the property and pursued multiple residential and recreational projects on the land. A notable hallmark was the sale of 170 acres to famed golf course architect Dan Maples, who was tasked to build and operate a golf course facility, which would include a clubhouse, driving range, tennis courts, swimming pool, and pool house. Construction began in early 1988, and Longleaf Golf Club (named after the official State Tree of North Carolina) held its grand opening that very November. The Tate horse barn even served as the temporary clubhouse and cart storage building until the present clubhouse was completed in 1990.
A New Mission: U.S. Kids Golf Places “Family” at the Forefront
While no horses can be found galloping the bends at Longleaf today, the historic land continues to beget champions and more.
In 2015, the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation purchased Longleaf Golf and Country Club to further its central mission: promote and innovate best practices for bringing children into the game of golf and facilitate more family engagement through the sport. To that end, the land was renamed the Longleaf Golf & Family Club, with a stated goal of becoming the most family-centric golf facility in the world.
Right from the start, the Foundation made capital improvements to the land—including a state-of-the-art practice facility, additional and plans for comprehensive teeing grounds allowing for seven different tee locations for all skill levels. The Foundation also added an impressive 10,000-square-foot putting green, complete with a nine-hole putting course, and an unwavering commitment to creating a culture of inclusion and fun.
Longleaf is also now home to the first U.S. Kids Golf Academy, a teaching and learning institute devoted to the innovation of new ideas for bringing newcomers into golf. As such, many of the world’s best golf coaches will come to know Longleaf as a “living laboratory,” where all are encouraged to share their ideas for growing the game.
U.S. Kids Golf is proud to have enjoyed a strong connection with the Pinehurst community through its flagship tournaments: the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship and Teen World Championship. For over a decade, young golfers from around the world have converged upon Pinehurst to compete in these events, and in 2015, over 2,100 young players from fifty-one countries came to compete on ten different courses in the area, including Longleaf.
While Longleaf Golf & Family Club will continue to play a key role those prestigious annual championships, the course’s new primary mission is to lead the way in helping golfers of all levels grow in their enjoyment for the game.
While the nature of the land has surely changed since June Bug Tate began training his first championship racehorse, we at the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation are proud of continuing the purposeful and successful heritage of the property. We look forward to adding to the legacy with a new and even brighter future for kids and families everywhere.