Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club Centennial Year

The Days of The Cosgroves & Julius Boros

Mid Pines was shut down as a resort during World War II and used as a base for military personnel, but early in 1944, as the war was winding down, Homeland Investment Company of Durham, the owner of Mid Pines since 1934, was ready to reopen the club. Donald Ross knew that the company would be needing a manager and suggested that Frank and Masie Cosgrove would be a perfect fit. They signed the papers in May of 1944.

For the next twenty-nine year, the Mid Pines resort would be defined by the Cosgrove family.

The resort was in shambles when they took over at the beginning of the 1945-45 season after housing military police during the war. Hay and wild grapes covered the golf course. Furniture shoved in storage. The kitchen was in ruins. The interior of the hotel had been spray-painted Army beige.

“We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that place,” said their daughter, Jean Cosgrove Stevenson, who worked at Mid Pines during the season through her death in 2002. “It was a family operation. My sisters and I would spend twelve or fifteen hours a day working there. We worked the desk, waited tables, did maid work if we had to, or hostess work. We got to know all the guests and they got to know each other and it almost became like a big family.”

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“Our life was Mid Pines” she continued. “At Christmas every year, Mom would say something like ‘Well, instead of a new mink coat this year, we’ll get a walk-in refrigerator. They were happy times, believe me.”

In 1953, the Cosgroves expanded their golf operations by becoming partners with their son-in-law, Julius Boros, and newlyweds Peggy and Warren Bell in purchasing the Pine Needles golf course across the road. Warren operated the course on a day-to-day basis, as the Cosgroves had their hands full with Mid Pines and as Julius and Peggy played their respective pro golf tours. The Cosgroves brought complementary skills and personalities to Mid Pines: the golf course was Frank’s (“Pop’s”) and the hotel was Masie’s. Though both consorted amicably with the guests, Pop was the one who played golf with them and made them feel at home.

“It wasn’t like you were working there,” says Ernie Boros, Julius’s brother and his assistant pro at Mid Pines for twenty years from the early 1950s until the Cosgroves sold the resort in 1973. “And the guests, they got treated more like friends than paying customers.”

“It’s the only place I ever worked where the help had as much fun as the guests” says Jim Boros, Julius’ nephew and long-time golf shop staffer, assistant pro and later head pro. “During the season, you were working seven days a week. But no one ever complained”

Julius Boros relinquished his amateur status in December 1949, and took over running the golf shop at Mid Pines while directing his competitive attentions to the PGA Tour and married Ann “Buttons” Cosgroves, in May 1950. Peggy Kirk Bell fondly recalled, “Jay (one of Boros’ many nicknames that included Big Jules, Big Julie, Bear and Moose) was a very quiet man, very shy, he said very little. But Buttons was crazy about him. She’d say, ‘Let’s go over to Southern Pines Country Club and see Jay.’”

Boros gave conflicting accounts of what finally prompted him to turn pro. He told one reporter he pulled the trigger after viewing a driving snowstorm outside his Hartford office window. He also wrote that the encouragement from a few friends at a tournament was all he needed. But Peggy Bell claimed it was Buttons who did the pushing, even asking Snead to convince him. There may well be truth to all three versions. In any event, Boros turned pro on Dec. 15, 1949.

In 1951, Buttons suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while giving birth to a healthy son, Jay Nicholas (Nick) Boros, and died the following day. His wife’s death, “really shook him up,” says Boros’ brother, Ernie. But Julius kept his pain to himself. Two-time major champion Doug Ford traveled with Boros countless hours, coast to coast, during the ’50s. Quiet as a church mouse anyway, Ford says Boros never spoke to him about losing Buttons, nor did Boros mention it in any of several books. Nick, now in his mid-60s, says his father never discussed the death of his mother. Pop and Maisie Cosgrove offered to help raise the boy. Nick would rotate with his grandparents between the Cosgrove homes in North Carolina and Massachusetts for the next three years. Following a two month hiatus after the loss of his wife, Boros played a home game in Pinehurst at the North and South Open. Showing little rust, he finished six shots behind Tommy Bolt in the event’s final edition.

In 1952, Boros made his first career victory the United States Open, shooting 281 to defeat Ed (Porky) Oliver by four strokes at Northwood Country Club in Dallas. Ben Hogan finished third. It was often said after that victory that Boros, because of his ability to drive the ball straight and to hit soft pitch shots when he missed greens, had the ideal game for the rigorous course setup of the United States Open.

Indeed, his record was extraordinary. From his first Open in 1950 through 1960, he placed fifth or better six times. And in 1963, he won again, this time defeating Arnold Palmer and Jacky Cupit in a playoff at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

He won the Westchester Classic and the PGA Championship at the age of 48 and nearly won the Westchester again at the age of 55, losing a playoff to Gene Littler in 1975.

Boros, who played on four Ryder Cup teams and was named to the PGA Hall of Fame in 1974 and the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1982, competed on the regular PGA Tour until 1977, when he was 57, entering 13 tournaments that year. He had been the leading money winner on tour in 1952 and 1955, and won more than $1 million on the regular tour.

How Mid Pines Got It’s Start

At the start of the 20th century, Pinehurst was a lively spot in golf and social circles. For some, it had almost become too lively and the resort found itself turning away guests during its peak season. “There is the desire of a number of old Pinehurst guests who want to have comfortable quarters where they can be away from the activities of the hotels,” said Leonard Tufts, son of the resort founder James Walker Tufts and the resort-chief from 1902 to the mid-1930s. Tufts and a handful of area businesses and regular visitors envisioned a posh private club nearby with golf, lodging and a residential community.

Thus was conceived Mid Pines Country Club.

The first official meeting of Mid Pines Country Club was held in January, 1921.

 James B Barber was elected President.
Tuft, Vice President and General Manager.
A.S. Newcom, Secretary/Treasurer.
Donald Ross, golf architect, was a founding member, as was L.M. Boomer.

The club was incorporated with total authorized capital of $375,000, divided into one hundred and fifty shares, to be sold for $2,500 each. (By April 1928, Mid Pines had sold only seventy one shares, and 12 more by 1933.) Architect Aymar Embury II of NY was chosen to design the club and lodgings. Donald Ross, who had already built four courses at Pinehurst Country Club, would design the original plan of thirty-six holes (though only 18 would be built). Ross had his choice of about 5,000 acres in an area known as Knollwood, and thoughtfully chose a site just below a ridge of hills that would provide protection from the wind and allow him to create a natural variety of holes.

The club purchased 180 acres at $125 each and built the golf course for $46,152.15, which opened in November 1921.

By the fall of 1923 there were 46 members. The club posted an operating profit each of its first 7 years, but the interest payments on the bonds it sold to help finance the original construction left it with a net loss for the first 5 years. Finally in its 6th year, the club posted a net profit of $41.09, and that figure rose to $1,249.96 in 1928-29.

100 Years in the Making

Every day, birdies, eagles and pars are made.
Every week, golfers are discovering their favorite course.
Every year for the past 100 years, new memories formed and traditions forged.

Over the course of the year, we will highlight a century of people, events, stories and memories that have made
Mid Pines the storied destination it continues to be today.