Pinehurst News

The Minds of the Pinehurst Golf Academy

At the Pinehurst Golf Academy, students receive instruction from golf professionals who have called the range at Pinehurst home for several years: (from l-r) Eric Alpenfels, Kelly Mitchum, Geoff Lynch and Paul McRae.

At the Pinehurst Golf Academy, students receive instruction from golf professionals who have called the range at Pinehurst home for several years: (from l-r) Eric Alpenfels, Kelly Mitchum, Geoff Lynch and Paul McRae.

Meet the “Mount Rushmore” of the Pinehurst Golf Academy

Photos by John Gessner

BY LEE PACE

They have stood on the practice tee collectively for more than a century, through the winds of March and searing sun of July. They’ve seen laid-off club shafts, banana balls, weak grips, strong grips, hunched-over postures, flying elbows and lateral slides. The engineers who’ve come to them for help with their golf swing want a tip delivered on a slide rule, the artists prefer a catch phrase in rhyme.

Their minds are like encyclopedias of golf instruction theory and drills. Their patience extends to the moon and back, their good humor worthy of an ice cream truck. Each has an amateur degree in psychology—how else to climb inside the brains of thousands of golfers over the years and figure out what makes them click?

Through it all, the Pinehurst Golf Academy staff of Eric Alpenfels, Paul McRae, Kelly Mitchum and Geoff Lynch have been Pinehurst’s Mount Rushmore—four instructors averaging 25 years on staff and giving the Academy the consistency and ballast to grow and thrive in a golf economy that’s weathered three recessions since 1990 and seen the gradual slide of the golf school business since the 2008-09 financial crisis.

“Our school has continued to grow while golf schools in general are passé,” says Don Padgett II, the Pinehurst president and COO from 2004-2014. “Their experience, their consistent delivery, the personal attention—these guys are the model to buck the trend. We get a lot of repeat business. We’ve got guys who’ve been coming for 20 years.” … Continue Reading

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Bubba Watson…from both sides of the plate

It’s baseball season, and Bubba Watson shows he has power from both sides of the plate.

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VIDEO: Pinehurst No. 2 Superintendent talks course maintenance

There’s a science to keeping Pinehurst’s greens in top shape.

Watch this video from BASF to see Pinehurst No. 2 Superintendent John Jeffreys talk about the process of caring for the championship course. It’s a great insider look at the operation.

John and members of his team can sometimes also be magicians. Look what they did to help No. 2 recover from over an inch of rain that poured down in less than 30 minutes on the night between the first and second rounds of the U.S. Open:

 

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Padgett II named Golfweek’s Father of the Year

Don Padgett

Don Padgett II

Golfweek has named retired Pinehurst President Don Padgett II its Father of the Year, an honor previously awarded to  Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper and Peter Compton.

Padgett, who served as president and chief operation officer of Pinehurst from 2004 to 2014, led the yearlong restoration of Pinehurst No. 2 in 2010. Conducted by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the project restored the course’s natural and historic character.

Coore and Crenshaw removed some 40 acres of grass to re-expose the natural hardpan sand and unkempt look the course’s designer, Donald Ross, so embraced in the early 1900s.

Padgett’s father, Don Padgett Sr., served as Pinehurst’s director of golf from 1987 to 2002. He is credited by then-CEO and President Pat Corso as being the “insider” in the world of golf who opened doors and lent credence to Pinehurst’s drive in the late 1980s and early 1990s to land a major golf championship for No. 2.

PF6-17.05-5 Don Padgett (1280x908)

Don Padgett Sr.

Padgett II came to Pinehurst to replace Corso in 2004 after a successful tenure as director of golf and general manager at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. His experiences on the PGA Tour in the 1970s (he shot a 66 in the 1977 U.S. Open) gave him a unique perspective on the nuances of the Pinehurst golf experience.

After the 2005 U.S. Open, Padgett came to the gradual realization No. 2 had become too homogenized with its svelte green sheen and a maintenance protocol that had course workers only half-jokingly say they’d catch fallen pine cones “on the first bounce” rather than let it reflect its natural ambiance that reminded Ross of his native Scotland.

“His leadership on the No. 2 restoration was remarkable,” said Jay Biggs, the club’s senior vice president for golf and club operations. “I’ve thought about it often: ‘If I were in his shoes, would I have had the courage to pull that trigger?’

“He had the idea and the vision to go to Mr. Dedman at a time when the economy was poor, the golf business was suffering. It was a big gamble. But it paid off and Pinehurst is better off for it.”

Padgett remains active around the resort with the title of Executive Emeritus. His office moved from the executive suite on the second floor of the resort clubhouse to a smaller office on the first floor — one that coincidentally his father occupied two decades before.

I can feel my dad’s spirit in here,” Padgett said. “It’s kind of like coming full circle.”

Read more about the Padgett family legacy at Pinehurst by clicking here.

Golfweek will honor Padgett during its Father & Son Open at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. View an entire list of past honorees here. 

 

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Pinehurst hosts Southeast lawn bowls tournament

There’s a heated competition underway at Pinehurst, but it’s not taking place on a golf course.

The Southeast Division of the U.S. Lawn Bowls Association is hosting their playdowns at the main clubhouse through the weekend.

Playdowns is lawn bowl lingo for playoffs. The winners of the competition will go on to compete in the U.S. Championships later this year.

“That’s as good as it gets in this sport,” said George Tucker, a member of the Pinehurst Lawn Bowls Club. “It’s like the World Series in baseball.”

About a dozen teams are facing off in the pairs competitions, which is expected to wrap up Friday. Singles play will get underway Saturday with 22 individuals facing off.

George has been participating in lawn bowls since he first picked up the sport in 1998.

“It’s just a fun game,” he said.

George’s wife, Jackie, started playing in 2003, but it didn’t take long to catch up with her husband. Last year, she took home first place in the pairs competition at the U.S. Championships.

Now, Jackie stays busy coaching the Team USA.

“This is a game you can play for the rest of your life,” she said. “It’s good exercise, you’re outside and it is always challenging.”

The strategy needed to win a game keeps the mind sharp, Jackie said.

“You’re got to be one thought or two thoughts ahead of your opponent, which is why I tell people it’s like playing chess on grass,” she said.

Jackie compares the physical aspect of the sport to curling, but George likens it to shuffleboard.

Pinehurst members interested in lawn bowling can contact Jackie at 910-215-5538 or Dan Delgarn at 910-215-0811 to set up a free lesson and learn more.

Groups interested in lawn bowling during their visit at Pinehurst can call Recreation Manager Mallory Caddell at 910-235-8783to make arrangements for a lesson.

 

 

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