State of the Week

Where are we?? The Tar Heel State. The origin of the "Tar Heel" nickname -- which is given to the state and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill athletic teams -- is complicated. Most historians believe it stems from the early days in the state's history, when tar was one of North Carolina's biggest experts. Others, however, trace it to the Civil War, when Southerners claimed that the North Carolina troops "stuck like they had tar on their heels."North Carolina history: Long before Queen Elizabeth I granted Sir Walter Raleigh land for what is now North Carolina (then Virginia) in 1584, several Native American tribes made their home in the area. By the 1580s, European settlers were moving to the area to live in two established colonies on the coast. However, they both ended in failure. "The Lost Colony" of Roanoke Island, one of those settlements, remains one of the greatest mysteries in American history when the inhabitants vanished after a three-year period. Colonists from Virginia, which borders the state to the north, eventually moved down into the state and, by 1663, King Charles II granted a charter to the territory and named the area "Carolina" after his father Charles I. In 1712, North Carolina became a separate colony and South Carolina later followed suit. By 1789, North Carolina had become the 12th state to ratify the Constitution but they would later become the last state to secede from the union when Abraham Lincoln asked them to invade South Carolina and the North Carolinians refused. They battled long and hard during the Civil War -- the port city of Wilmington, N.C., was the last to fall to the Union army -- but eventually surrendered with the rest of the Confederate states. After a long Reconstruction period, North Carolina developed a booming economy with the cotton-textile industry thriving in the late 19th century. The state is also known for another famous historical moment -- the Wright brothers, the first people to fly a plane, performed their feat on the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, N.C. in 1903.North Carolina on the course: The most famous course in the state -- and one of the toughest in the country -- is undoubtedly Pinehurst No. 2, home of several major golf tournaments. North Carolina also hosts many PGA TOUR, Nationwide Tour and Champions Tour events on some challenging yet beautiful courses in the state. But we wanted to highlight a few lesser-known gems on the Outer Banks, barrier islands on the Carolina coast. A well-planned golf outing to the area would allow visitors to play six championship golf courses, including the scenic Nags Head Golf Links and the picturesque Carolina Club. From forested courses to ocean-side links, there's a wide variety of venues in the area to please any weekend golfer.North Carolina off the course: Take a trip back in time to Old Salem, a living history museum located in the historic part of Winston Salem, N.C. Dressed in traditional Moravian costumes and performing jobs similar to those worked by early Southerners, the people in Old Salem bring a tale straight out of the history books to life every day. The best part about Old Salem is the sweet treats prepared by the villagers. Their Moravian sugar cake melts in your mouth and the paper-thin gingerbread cookies are a crunchy snack. Modern-day visitors can walk between the old-time cottages and stores in Old Salem, where smells of freshly-baked bread and cookies waft into the air and beckon visitors to stop into the many restaurants and indulge in old-fashioned food.North Carolina resort: Visitors to the grounds of the Biltmore Estate might experience déjà vu since the majestic mountain views and expansive grounds were featured in motion pictures like "Forrest Gump", "Patch Adams", "Last of the Mohicans" and "Hannibal". Rest assured, however. When booking a spot in the 213-room Inn on Biltmore Estate, the relaxing atmosphere will be far removed from Hollywood and the everyday rat race. Located near the Vanderbilt's famous chateau -- the largest privately owned home in the U.S. -- the Inn on Biltmore Estate allows visitors to take in the magnificent antiques and gardens at the house built in the late 1880s or early 1890s. Guests can also enjoy spa services, fine dining and, for those looking for a more romantic retreat, secluded historic cottages where a butler attends to every need.North Carolina eats: Several popular products were born in North Carolina, including Pepsi (created by a pharmacist in New Bern), Krispy Kreme doughnuts (headquartered in Winston Salem) and North Carolina...whoops, make that Texas Pete hot sauce (contrary to its name, the bland-food topping was first made in North Carolina). But there's something else that the state is famous for. Almost every North Carolina citizen will know the answer to this question about food in the state: What is the difference between Eastern North Carolina barbeque and Western North Carolina barbeque? It's simple. The spicy, vinegar-based Eastern N.C. kind, which generally comes from the area east of Raleigh, uses both white and dark meat from the hog. The Western N.C. variety is ketchup-based and only the dark meat (the pork shoulder) is eaten.North Carolina culture: From the mountains of Asheville to the Wrightsville beaches, the state boasts several large cities and thriving areas. Many citizens working throughout the state -- including the Research Triangle Park, the largest research park in the country that employs over 40,000 workers for 160 companies -- attended one of the big four colleges on "Tobacco Road". Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, Duke University in Durham, North Carolina State University in Raleigh and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill comprise these four ACC schools that have a storied rivalry in college basketball that has produced several famous alums, including Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, David Thompson, Christian Laettner and Chris Paul. The higher education system in the state is superb -- the University of North Carolina school system has 16 affordable public universities spread across North Carolina that confers about 75 percent of the bachelor's degrees in the state.North Carolina golfer: Born in Charlotte, N.C., PGA TOUR golfer Davis Love III attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before turning professional in 1987. He quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with on TOUR, winning his first event that season. Love, the son of the late renowned golf instructor Davis Love, Jr., went on to win 18 more titles on TOUR, including the PGA Championship in 1997, THE PLAYERS Championship in 1992 and 2003 and his most recent win at the 2006 Chrysler Classic of Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C. Though Love now lives with his family in St. Simons Island, Ga., he left his mark on North Carolina in many ways. In fact, it was Love who helped turn the world's most famous athlete into a golfer. Love gave fellow Tar Heel Michael Jordan his first set of golf clubs in college and, now that the NBA giant's basketball career is finished, Jordan is an avid golf fan.

State of the Week