Moore County, which includes the towns of Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen, covers approximately 700 square miles (112 km) and is located in the south-central region of North Carolina in a rural area situated between the cities of Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, Raleigh and Fayetteville. It is also adjacent to Fort Bragg Army Base. Reflective of many communities in the region, it can be characterized as a fringe community: ‘Five million people live in exurban areas of the South, representing 47% of total exurban population nationwide’ (Berube et al., 2006, para. 2). Much of the county is in the Sandhills, a longleaf pine ecosystem that has become the setting for dozens of premier golf courses and golf clubs, including the eight courses within Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, as well as 30 other independent courses (Moore County Partners in
Progress: Demographics, n.d.; Convention and Visitors Bureau Pinehurst, Southern Pines, and Aberdeen Area, n.d.). The area has been branded as the ‘Home of American Golf’.
The population of Moore County is over 93,000, and is projected to grow at 1.4%, with about half the people in the county described as ‘urban’ and half as ‘rural’. The majority of the population is white (83%), followed by 13% African American and 6% Hispanic/Latino. Most (92%) of the population has a high school degree and 32% hold a Bachelor’s degree at a minimum. The per capita income in 2014 was $27,437 and 75% of the active labour force works in the county (North Carolina Department of Commerce, n.d.). The primary forms of employment are healthcare and social assistance, tourism and hospitality, and retail (Moore County Partners in Progress, n.d.).
Moore County prides itself on providing an atmosphere for a high quality of life that has contributed to a number of ‘relocatees’ and ‘returnees’ to the area. The tourism industry has also contributed to new residential growth. While tourism is primarily driven by golf, outdoor recreation, equestrian activities, historic tours, food and beverage-related experiences and special events are also prominent tourism products (Convention and Visitors Bureau, n.d.). In 2014, direct tourism expenditures totalled US$438 million, a 7.06% increase over the previous year. State tax receipts related to tourism were $21 million and local tax receipts were $12 million (Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, n.d.).
In addition to the healthy economy and recreational/tourist amenities, the traditional agrarian industries of the country have also had an important role in quality of life in the county; croplands, pastures and forests have contributed ‘greatly [to] the quality of life enjoyed by county residents, providing economic opportunities, environmental services and social benefits like scenic beauty, open space and rural character’ (Bonham, 2012, p. i). The Moore County Chamber of Commerce, who provides relocation information to the county, has described this marriage of the urban and rural as a ‘small town feel while providing the amenities of a metropolitan community’ (para. 1).