Mid-Am Crisis ft. Tom Pashley – President, Pinehurst Resort

Tom Pashley sporting the famous Putterboy logo

If I owned a golf resort Tom Pashley would be exactly the sort of person I’d want running it. Unfortunately for my ownership aspirations Pashley seems quite happy with his current gig. As the President of Pinehurst Resort since 2014, he has spearheaded one of the most successful reimaginations of a golf property the world has ever seen. With tremendous momentum from the back-to-back men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in 2014, Pinehurst could have rested comfortably on their laurels. Instead, Pashley hit the ground running. In his seven years on the job he has overseen a dramatic transformation of the Pinehurst experience that includes the creation of The Cradle short course, the Gil Hanse renovation of  Pinehurst No. 4, the renovation of Pinehurst No. 3, the construction of Pinehurst Brewing Company, renovated lodging options, and even refreshed branding based on the resort’s rich history. All of which has resulted in a new golden age for the resort.

Pashley spent 19 years at Pinehurst before ascending to the role of President and he wears his love for the place on his sleeve. He’s also a humble and easily approachable person. If you see him walking around the grounds at Pinehurst you’d think he was just another immensely satisfied customer. Although, his smile makes you think he knows something you don’t. What that might be is that the big ideas and grand plans aren’t over yet. Not even close. In 2020, Pinehurst announced that the resort would not only become an anchor site for the U.S. Open, but also the second home of the USGA. That partnership has triggered a whole new wave of possibilities including plans for a new hotel overlooking the Cradle and potentially a 10th course for the resort.

I have only known Pashley for a few months, but after having dinner with him this Spring and then seeing him again on a Summer buddies trip, he’s almost got me talked into moving to Pinehurst myself. Pashley has been quite generous with his time with me to date and it was a real treat to have him on the podcast as well. In our discussion we touched on all the resort’s recent success, how COVID19 impacted the area, and what the U.S. Open coming to town every five years will mean for Pinehurst’s future. We also dove into my recent trips and why the resort is seeing unprecedented levels of guests in 2021. If you have never been to Pinehurst, I’m confident this conversation will make you want to go and book your trip immediately. After a few trips in the past couple years, I can proudly say there are few places I love more than there. Thanks to Tom Pashley that love will only continue to grow.

If you want to learn more about Pinehurst Resort and how to book your next trip there, please visit https://www.pinehurst.com/

Thanks as always for listening to Mid-Am Crisis. The show is brought to you by my friends at Imagine Golf – the #1 app for the mental game. Download Imagine Golf today and start your journey to an improved way of thinking on and off the course. https://www.imaginegolf.com/

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JayRevell and find more or my work at https://jayrevell.com/

If you enjoy the show, I would love for you to leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts.

Cheers,

-J

Mid-Am Crisis is a production of Revell Media, LLC

Mid Am Crisis ft. Mark Stewart – Owner, Tobacco Road Golf Club

The 13th hole at Tobacco Road Golf Club

Mark Stewart once had a crazy idea to build a golf course on his family’s old sand pit. Turns out it was a pretty good idea. Tobacco Road Golf Club has been wowing guests for over 20 years now and Stewart is still at the helm of the operation. When the project began in 1998, he took a chance on an up and coming golf architect named Mike Strantz. There was no way to know how impactful that decision would become. Today, Mike Strantz courses have a cult following and Tobacco Road is widely considered his masterpiece. Stewart has always liked taking risks and he’s still at working to make his dream course an even better place for people to have an unforgettable golf experience.

Stewart and I first met a few years ago when I was doing some reporting for the Golfer’s Journal on how Tobacco Road came to be. We’ve stayed in touch since the story came out and have become good friends. He keeps a close eye on trends in the golf industry and we often talk about how things are going at his course and here at my home track in Tallahassee. Now, as the COVID19 golf boom reaches the one year mark, I wanted to catch up with Stewart to see how things were going and what he is doing at Tobacco Road to seize on these generational golf business opportunities.

During our discussion, we talked about the impacts to golf travel, the surge in new players, and what strategies the Tobacco Road team has pursued to capture new business. We also dove into some of Stewart’s memories from the early days and working with Mike Strantz. I’m always impressed with how much he emphasizes the preservation of Strantz’s work there and we spoke on that as well. There is also a fun segment where we dive into Stewart’s favorite movie franchise – The Fast and the Furious. You will get a kick out of that.

It’s always a treat to talk to Mark Stewart and this episode was a blast to record. I’m headed up to Tobacco Road again soon and look forward to seeing that great place again with a new batch of friends. If you haven’t been yet…I highly recommend you go.

To learn more about Tobacco Road Golf Club, Mike Strantz, and all the great ways to experience the course please visit https://tobaccoroadgolf.com/

Thanks as always for listening to Mid-Am Crisis. The show is brought to you by my friends at Imagine Golf – the #1 app for the mental game. Download Imagine Golf today and start your journey to an improved way of thinking on and off the course. https://www.imaginegolf.com/

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JayRevell and find more or my work at https://jayrevell.com/

If you enjoy the show, I would love for you to leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts.

Cheers,

-J

Mid-Am Crisis is a production of Revell Media, LLC

How I Learned to Play Faster Golf – an evening with Ran Morrissett

GCA founder Ran Morrissett sets the pace at Southern Pines Golf Club

 

You can learn a lot about someone by playing golf with them. The ways in which a person conducts themselves on a golf course is a window into their character. Golf provides an ample display of one’s disposition and playing with others is an invitation to question our own comportment. Every so often, I have been graced with the chance to play golf with someone who challenges my assumptions and provides a model for how I might improve my own outlook on the game. Ran Morrissett is one such person.

Ran Morrissett is the founder and proprietor of Golf Club Atlas. CGA, as it is commonly called, is a website made for the study and discussion of golf course architecture.  Instituted in the early days of the internet, GCA has become the go-to place for golfers to gain a deeper appreciation for the design of the best courses in the world. I have been a fan and message board member for a few years now and Ran’s writing and opinions on golf are among my favorite things to read. When the opportunity arose for me to travel to his home town near Pinehurst, North Carolina, I reached out to Ran to see if he may be available to talk some golf.

Ran is the kind of gentleman golfer with whom I find great delight in sharing a conversation. He is well-traveled and fluent in the language of the game. These attributes became apparent upon my arrival at his home for our afternoon appointment. Ran was kind enough to take me up on having a chat and he extended me a sincere and warm greeting. Ran suggested an itinerary for the evening that included a few holes of golf and some dinner. I was thrilled to join him for both and it turned out to be quite the learning experience.

After a tour of his home and a brief walkthrough of GCA world headquarters, Ran and I loaded into his car and headed for his favorite golf hang – the Southern Pines Golf Club. On the ride over, he gave me some backstory on Southern Pines and its current state. The club has a rich history. Donald Ross designed its first nine holes in 1906 and eventually expanded the golf there to include 36 holes. Only 18 remain in play today. The club is owned by the local Elks lodge which at one time made for steady traffic and a healthy level of revenues. Today,  the club is dealing with the many effects of the ever-changing golf market.

When Ran and I pulled up to the club I could immediately sense the aging of the place. In many ways, it reminded me of my home club. Time had moved on, but the club stayed behind. The large hulking and empty Elks lodge casts a shadow on the first tee and serves as a monument to days gone by. Beyond the parking lot and the lodge, the property falls away into a pine forest that is populated with rolling hills. It is over those slopes that the routing of Donald Ross and the many charms of Southern Pines comes alive. It’s the perfect place for Ran to have a hit in the fading sunlight of the Sandhills each day

After checking in we were joined on the first tee by the delightful Chris Buie. Chris is one of the great resident writers and historians of the Pinehurst area. He also serves as Ran’s regular playing partner at Southern Pines. Between the two of them, they figure to have logged a few thousand holes played under the evening sun there.

The preferred game for Ran and Chris is a fast-paced walk around the course. The score is largely irrelevant. Some nights they may only play a handful of holes, but most times they aim for around twelve. It is just enough golf to get some exercise and have a well-rounded conversation between the swings. For me to join them in this ritual was a great treat.

To say that Ran and Chris play briskly is an understatement. Even as a seasoned walker, I found myself having to adjust my pace to keep up. I would classify their methods as “reactionary” golf. The process of each shot was short and decisions were made quickly. Approach the ball, pull a club, swing, then start walking. It’s that simple.

The way in which these gentlemen play is sporty and is in keeping with the traditions of the game in the United Kingdom. That can be attributed to the amount of time these gents have spent pursuing golf experiences around the globe. As Ran told me, “In other golfing nations the pace just isn’t an issue.” Playing quickly is just common courtesy. “Nobody wants to see folks take two minutes over a three-foot putt. Just hit it and keep moving.” During the course of our time together at Southern Pines, it occurred to me that this was a mindset worth emulating.

If I conjure an honest assessment of my game, I have to admit that my pace is often too slow. Perhaps it is due to the lingering effects of my junior golf career and all the crap I got fed about pre-shot routines and other manners of dragging on. Then again, it may just be that my inner demons won’t allow me to carry as quickly as I should. Either way, my pace has been and remains something I must work on.

My conversion back into a walking golfer these past few years has helped a great deal. If you are the lone walker in a group that reality necessitates you play fast enough to keep up. My pace has steadily improved, but it was my evening with Ran Morrissett that allowed me to see what I should be aiming for.

As we ventured around the course that evening I became intoxicated by the rhythm that we were enjoying together. This was a pace in which many of the game’s best aspects were made more readily enjoyable. For Ran and Chris, the golf being played was secondary to the pleasure of the walk with good company over a stunning layout.

There were times during my walk with Ran and Chris that I felt myself falling behind. Those guys really flew around the course. To tell the truth, It made me feel a bit inadequate. I can certainly see how newcomers to the game may feel completely lost in such a dizzying pace, but that was not an excuse that I had any room to enjoy. As a seasoned player, I needed to be better and as I watched my playing partners, I picked up on a number of customs that could easily be transferred to my own game.

The key to keeping up with Ran and Chris was to never stop moving. They showed me what is possible if you go to play with the intent of moving quickly around the course. For those of you wondering how this might play out in your own game, it means three things:

  1. Be ready to hit as soon as it is your turn
  2. Once you start putting don’t stop until you hole out
  3. If you lose a ball, drop one and keep playing quickly

Thanks to Ran and Chris, I found a strategy to improve my pace of play while having more fun on the course. The pace of play in golf continues to be a hot topic in the game and with today’s ever-growing social media conversations, there seems to be real momentum for speeding play across the globe. That is a good thing. For many years I shrugged when my friends commented about my pace because I didn’t believe them. “Surely it isn’t me,” I thought. But guess what – it was. Like anything else in life, I had to want to change if I ever hoped to improve.

By the time I arranged my meetup with Ran and round of golf with him and Chris, I was already on the path to improvement. They helped further my education and ever since I have made serious headway in reducing my round times. With a hard-working wife and rambunctious toddler at home, I need to gain back all the time I can. It’s still a work in progress, but I like where things are headed.

When Ran, Chris, and I finished our round at Southern Pines we scurried over to a local pub for some beers and a meal. For a guy like me, I could sit there and listen to their tales of golf trips all night. However, much like the way they play golf, dinner was straight to the point. We enjoyed every second together, but we all had other things to get to. That’s the kind of golf I try to play more of these days. Fun, faster, freewheeling, and far from caring about too much about the score.

I’m not sure we will ever see that kind of pace catch on across the entirety of the American golf landscape, but it is an idea worth spreading. The concept of playing quickly is something golf and the folks who play it all need to embrace. I’m still working on it, but it feels good to play faster. For those who may need a lesson in picking up the pace, I suggest stopping into Southern Pines some evening and see if you can keep up with Ran and Chris.