People in Golf - Caleb K. Miles
Miles has served as a leader for one the top destination marketing organisations in the Carolinas for the past 28 years. He lives in Southern Pines and has served on numerous state boards including the North Carolina Travel Industry Assn. (President), Economic Development Partnership of NC, Destination Marketing Association International, and NC Youth Soccer Assn. (Vice President), Co-creator of the NC Golf Marketing Alliance, and Member of the NC Golf Panel. Miles grew up as an Air Force “brat” and has lived in 20 different states in the U.S. His wife Cathy is an Occupational Therapist. They have two adult boys - residing in North Carolina and California - niether of whom are golfers - but they are still working on that.
MW: Pinehurst has been called the St. Andrews of golf in America. Is this a fair assessment in your mind?
CM: We use the term “Home of American Golf,” but both represent the destination well. It’s a combination of legendary golf, shaped by 120 years of golf history, anchored by small towns/villages with a ton of character.
MW: Approximately, how many courses are within a 10-mile radius of the Pinehurst Resort?
CM: Most folks are surprised when they hear there are 40 courses in that radius and their design dates range from the late 1800’s to this decade. This portfolio includes most of the top golf architects, past and present.
MW: For people coming to Pinehurst for the first time - what would be the top three things you recommend they should do?
CM: First – allocate some time in advance to build your golf and lodging itinerary – you can mix and match these two on your own or with the many golf travel packagers in the area. Our website http://www.homeofgolf.com and digital destination guide are great tools. Second – leave time to explore the towns and area attractions – there’s plenty of outdoor stuff from biking/hiking to croquet, and tennis. Shopping is plentiful for golf-related items, also antiques, pottery - there are tons of options and most of the shops and restaurants are one-of-a-kind. And finally, soak up the southern charm baked into towns that were inspired by New England villages. Combine exercise and history via walking tours in both the Village of Pinehurst and nearby Southern Pines.
MW: What do you think James Walker Tufts, the founder of Pinehurst and his grandson Richard, who expanded the resort significantly, would say about the community and the resort if alive today?
CM: In their day it was truly a “company town”, so the growth of new businesses and the incorporation of the village would most likely grab their attention first. But hopefully they’d see that their dream manifested in what the village has become, and be pleased. As a side note, the ample green space and massive longleaf pine trees give the area a very different look from what we see in old photos of their time, with the scrub oaks and highly timbered pines.
MW: Since 1999, Pinehurst has been on the short list of courses the USGA has used as host sites for the US Open. The famed #2 course will once again serve as host in ‘24. How much of an impact did getting the premiere golf event in America impact the local area?
CM: Due to the size and scope of the event, the actual impact footprint is substantial (20+ NC counties) with the total economic impact in the region for the 2014 (Men’s and Women’s Open) topping $238 million. Because the event is so dependent on these other counties for hospitality services (hotel rooms, food & beverage, retail, transportation), as well as the sponsorship dollars from NC companies, it is truly a statewide initiative that has to be viewed holistically. There’s no question that it helps shape the reputation and brand for both the state and area.
MW: How much credit should Club Corporation of America get for its stewardship of Pinehurst Resort and ultimately deciding to reach out to Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore in returning #2 to its original intent?
CM: Most here would say that Club Corporation’s investment was one of the most significant factors for the growth of the area. Now that the complex is privately owned by the Dedman family, their investment in the business hasn’t waned, as a significant amount has been directed at both the members and the resort amenities. What’s changed in the region is a diversification of the economy - with the growing health care system (First Health) and the influx of young military families from the largest military base in America at Fort Bragg.
MW: On the golf front - what would say are the most underrated golf facilities open to the public in the greater Pinehurst area?
CM: While there are many to choose from, some of the most noteworthy include: Talamore Resort’s redesign, the aforementioned Crenshaw Coore who also designed the highly regarded Dormie Club, and Longleaf Golf & Family Club with its redesigned golf course, new Bottlebrush short course owned and operated by US Kids Golf (USKG), who hold the world’s largest kids golf tournament in the area every summer here.
MW: Just recently Pinehurst Resort opened a short course - other facilities have also invested heavily in improving what they provide. What do you believe was the genesis for these actions?
CM: The Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area is seen as a leader in the golf industry, and in this case in finding new ways to grow the game with an emphasis on women, kids and family golf. Too often the industry doesn’t walk the talk. We’re seeing tangible results here with the short course movement, including Pinehurst’s new Cradle course. Just down the road the USKG Longleaf new approach call “Longleaf Tee System” which helps match golfers with the right tees to play is also highly regarded.
MW: Golf course architect Donald Ross spent considerable amount of time at Pinehurst and his legacy clearly is seen with his designs, most notably the #2 course. How do you assess his contributions overall?
CM: As may know, there are books written on Donald Ross and his influence on the game of golf, as well as an active Society in his name. Even with that rich legacy and international acclaim, I’m most impressed with his depth of knowledge and involvement in golf. As a golf architect, golf pro, accomplished player, businessman, and visionary, he embodied golf.
MW: What’s the biggest challenge for Pinehurst - short and long term?
CM: Mine is more of a macro perspective. Put simply: make certain our growth is sustainable and achieved in a way that is both focused on the customer and respectful of the past.