The air is full of excitement in North Carolina right now. You might even say that folks are on “pines and needles,” anticipating one of the largest golf weekends of the season.
North Carolina, in fact, is making golf history this week by hosting both the women’s and men’s U.S. Open Championships at one of the most revered sites for golf, the No. 2 course of the Pinehurst resort in Pinehurst, N.C.
For North Carolina natives, like me, it’s a time to celebrate and share all of the things that make our state great with golf fans and U.S. Open golf spectators around the world.
Those who attend the championships this week will see a lot of golf but no doubt will also witness the beautiful, majestic pine trees that line the greens and surround the small village of Pinehurst and its neighboring communities of Southern Pines and Whispering Pines.
While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I had the pleasure to befriend natives of the Pinehurst area, several of whom invited me to visit their childhood homes. I’ll never forget the simple beauty of the countless pine trees that I saw while visiting my friends’ special “neck of the woods.”
In honor of those friends and in celebration of the N.C.-hosted 2014 U.S. Open Championships, I’m sharing the official North Carolina State Toast, which was adopted by the N.C. General Assembly in 1957 and which opens with a reference to N.C. pines:
Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to “Down Home,” the Old North State!
Here’s to the land of the cotton bloom white,
Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate,
‘Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!
Here’s to the land where the galax grows,
Where the rhododendron’s rosette glows,
Where soars Mount Mitchell’s summit great,
In the “Land of the Sky,” in the Old North State!
Here’s to the land where maidens are fair,
Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
The near land, the dear land, whatever fate,
The blessed land, the best land, the Old North State!
Yes, here’s to our state, in this week, and in all those that follow!