Theses and Dissertations


Matthew Himel

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Giesen, James C.

Committee Member

Hersey, Mark D.

Committee Member

Marshall, Anne E.

Committee Member

Lavine, Matthew B.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Complete embargo for 2 years

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of History


“Greening Golf” explores how and why many golfers and tourists have come to see Pinehurst, and thousands of courses like it, as naturally-occurring landscapes and to what degree they should. It examines the tightly bound environmental and cultural history of the Sandhills to explain both the rise of the resort within a very particular environmental context in the post-Civil War rural South, and the surprising ways that golf came to have intense influence over it. Rather than viewing the growth of the sport as the result of cultural and environmental changes in American history, this dissertation treats golf as a historical force of its own. It has shaped individuals like golfers, caddies, and tourists, groups like country clubs, labor organizations, and political parties, and broad entities like economies, agriculture, and ecology. Golf as a force molded every input needed to create the physical space where it was played. Golf not only shaped the golf course but those who constructed it, maintained it, and enjoyed it. It simultaneously normalized and mystified the environment, especially at Pinehurst. Golf imposed new ideas about how landscapes should look, yet, obscured their making. Golf insisted that a course should be wherever its owner decided to build it and disassociated the intensive agricultural practices needed to maintain it. This process of shaping, imposing, and obscuring transformed the Sandhills landscape and its occupants. In the process, golf naturalized grass, the golf course, and Pinehurst in the North Carolina Sandhills.