PARNELL REILLY has a full schedule ahead of him as he will have the honour of being Huddersfield Golf Club’s captain during their 125th anniversary celebrations this year.
But the former PGA captain is keeping a couple of weeks clear in his diary during September to visit Pinehurst, his favourite destination among the many he has visited in the USA.
He will be on a trip organised by a fellow Huddersfield GC member, Anita Mandl, who runs AM Travel World.
Reilly has the urge to return to a resort he has visited on around a dozen occasions, pulled by the siren call of the many memories he has built up playing each of its nine courses - memories that include holing his second shot for an eagle 2 on course No 8.
Mandl’s desire to pay her first visit to the North Carolina resort was fuelled by working for ESPN at last year’s Open championship held at St Andrews, a venue twinned with Pinehurst in terms of their history and traditions.
“I think being at St Andrews, getting the other side of the ropes and having access to so much, it made me emotional and made me think that Pinehurst was the right destination for a golf trip,” said nine-handicapper Mandl.
“Pinehurst is the cradle of American golf, the St Andrews of the USA.”
Reilly commented: “I just thought it would be nice to go again as I haven’t been for about five years. The friend I used to go with is now in his 90s and he is not fit enough to travel. I fancy going back at least one more time.
“I just love the whole place: the village, the surrounding area and the golf courses. And the practice facilities they have are absolutely incredible, as is the (world famous) putting green (Thistle Dhu).”
Ten people, including Reilly, have already signed up for the trip, but Mandl still has some places available for a journey that will begin with five days in South Carolina at Hilton Head Island.
“I think it opens it up a bit as a trip as you have Pinehurst, with its tradition, but you have also got the beach (at Hilton Head Island), which if you are going that distance you might as well stay and do something else besides golf,” she said.
“What I am planning at the moment is to fly into Savannah via Atlanta and then - after five days at Hilton Head - hire a coach and drive up to Pinehurst and have the last five nights there.
“The five nights at Hilton Head would include three rounds - with the option of a fourth round for anybody who wanted it - and then we will drive up to Pinehurst, which takes about four hours.
“If anybody did want to play that day I could offer a round at Talamore GC, where llamas carry the golf clubs.
“It is about three miles away from Pinehurst and I thought if someone wanted to do that we could play there as it keeps the costs down too, because it is a municipal.
“Then we would have three rounds at Pinehurst, including on No 2, which is its most famous having staged US Opens, for both men and women, as well as other big events.”
She added: “I will get some prizes together so there will be some competitive golf. I have worked hard setting this up, looking at the best places and the best flights to get to make the travelling easier on everybody and to make it very special.
“After 20 years of travel I still have this massive passion for it, and I still have the same passion for golf, so combining the two is a dream really, something really special.”
As well as enjoying the unusual experience of having clubs carried by a llama, those on the trip could also opt for the healthy option, at Hilton Head, of transporting their set around the course on a bike.
“At Hilton Head you can hire a bike instead of taking a buggy or carrying your clubs,” said Mandl. “They have got special slots at the back where you can put your clubs so you can cycle around the courses.
“I am always trying to add something different and I think cycling around the course or having your clubs carried by a llama provides that.”
Anyone interested in going on the trip should contact Mandl by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by visiting her website www.amtravelworld.co.uk or by calling 07790 313 688.
Read Chris Stratford’s experiences at Pinehurst by clicking HERE