The Badin Inn: Back to the FutureBy Bridget Huckabee
Scott Pinkerton, one of three owners of the Badin Inn Golf Resort and Club in Badin, NC, can’t walk into the historic Inn without someone telling him how their parents met there, or how they married there, or how they remember going “to the club” as kids.
“Because of the unique history of the place,” Pinkerton says, “We don’t consider ourselves ‘owners’ as much as caretakers and we believe that our fullest potential involves us going ‘back to the future’.”
In 2013, the Town of Badin and the Badin Inn celebrate their centennial and taking the Inn back to the future has involved renovating a 1913 clubhouse into an historic inn and bringing a golf course back to life. Long-abandoned guest rooms have been re-furbished with a quaint 1920’s feel and added facilities like air conditioning and private bathrooms. The golf course has undergone extensive restoration.
But a visitor from 1913 would see little outward change. The handsome three-storied building shaped like an open U sits on a pine-covered knoll between the village of Badin and the first rise of the Uwharries. The Inn’s multi-paned windows look out on the same view they have looked on for a hundred years. Stone outcroppings dot the hill behind it. A stone-lined drainage ditch winds at its foot. Beyond, rows of white-framed townhouses cluster along tree-lined streets.
The Inn was built in 1913 as a club and guest house for male employees of a French aluminum company. At the start of World War I, the French sold their company to ALCOA who added rooms to the clubhouse for Badin school teachers. In those days there was no air condition and few bathrooms, but the prices were right. An inside room with three meals a day cost $34 per month.
Soon, romance blossomed between the bachelor engineers and the lady school teachers. More than fifty couples met here and later married, and many of their offspring still live in the area. One of those offspring, Jim Harrison, grew up to be the mayor of Badin.
Golf began in Badin when a few stalwarts began hitting golf balls along the cleared land under Alcoa’s power lines. There were three holes and the “greens” were sand. In 1924, Alcoa made land available for a proper golf course and the Badin Golf Club was organized. Initiation fees were set at $5.00 with a $2.50 reduction if the new club member was willing to work on the construction of the golf course.
The members hired Mr. V.C. Edminster to lead the project. The course slowly took shape, following the natural contour of the land that was part of the Uwharrie Mountain chain, eroded over millions of years into gentle rolling hills.
In 1928 the club became the Stanly County Country Club. Dugan Aycock was the first golf pro and Johnny Palmer, who went on to win 8 tour victories as a member of the PGA, learned the game here from the next pro, Earl Estridge.
Sam Estridge followed his father as golf pro for the Stanly County Country Club in 1972. During his years there the club built a swimming pool and upgraded the tennis courts. The clubhouse annex was renovated in the sixties for a snack bar and pro shop. But the clubhouse closed as a guest house and the rooms slowly fell into disrepair.
In 2005, the club was sold to a company determined to restore the property to its former glory. Today, the Inn is once again full of life, leading the way for the revitalization of the unique village it calls home. There’s music on the porch, guests in the refurbished rooms, diners in the popular bar and café, and golfers warming up on the putting green. The rose garden awaits a wedding party and the pool invites swimmers with its cool waters on a hot day.
“Golfers returning here after an absence are amazed at the improvements we’ve made to the course,” says current golf pro, Nick Jacobi. “Some say we remind them of a mini-Pinehurst with our quaint village, historic buildings and country inn. We’ve really made progress.”
Badin residents, Anne and Bill Harwood spend many evenings on the Inn’s wide porch. As one of the town’s five councilmen, Anne knows the vital need the town and the Inn have for each other.
Husband, Bill is the president of Better Badin, a community improvement organization. “The history of the town and the history of the Inn have been intertwined for a hundred years,” he says. “Today the inn is a major part of the Badin economy. It exemplifies one of Badin’s new economic development directions which is ecotourism. We have a saying around here, what is good for the Inn is good for Badin and what is good for Badin is good for the Inn.”