Pinehurst Golf News Archive

Finding peace on Pinehurst No. 2

You may remember Andrew Smith from November after he competed – and won his Wounded Warrior flight – at the inaugural Veterans Golfers Association Championship at Pinehurst.

Recently, The Chattanooga Times Free Press caught up with Andrew to tell his story, and it is certainly worth your time. (The story was subsequently picked up by The Associated Press.) It was inspiring to read…

And…

And…

…And then we got to the end, and Andrew’s final anecdote and quote:

As he addressed the UTC men, someone asked Smith what kept him from being depressed and bitter. He recalled something that (his wife) Tori told him in the hospital.

“She said that the enemy — the Taliban — had wanted to kill me,” he said. “She said, ‘Don’t give them a victory over anything you’re going through.’ That really inspired me. So whenever times are tough I think about the enemy, if any of them are still alive, and I think how they’re living in mud huts and drinking dirty water while I’m playing Pinehurst No. 2.”

 

We at Pinehurst are truly humbled.

Play well – always – Andrew.

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Why Pinehurst No. 2? No Water (in play)

Another reason to keep Pinehurst No. 2 on your bucket list?

Here’s a simple answer: Outside of a small pond not far in front of the 16th tee, there’s no water in play on Donald Ross’ famed course.

And as Tiger Woods showed at a media event for his upcoming tournament, water is no fun. Especially when you haven’t warmed up:

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“It’s one that I wish I could give back.”

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Kelly Mitchum’s effort to raise awareness and money for Michael Townsend’s family during his play at the Wells Fargo Championship generated a great deal of attention. If you would still like to donate, you may do so by contributing to The Mike Townsend Memorial Fund, Kiawah Partners, 130 Gardeners Circle, PMB #136, Kiawah Island, SC 29455.

We at Pinehurst are proud of Mitchum’s initiative. While it’s wonderful to watch Kelly, a lead instructor at the Pinehurst Golf Academy, play in PGA Tour events, we agree with him that we wish it was Townsend there fulfilling his well-earned dream of competing in a Tour event.

It was an emotional week, for sure, which was captured beautifully in many of the stories about Kelly’s efforts.

From The Fayetteville Observer:

Mitchum’s spot in the event originally belonged to Mike Townsend, a former All-American at Methodist University and the head pro at the Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique Course in South Carolina. Townsend earned it when he won the Carolinas PGA Section Professional Championship in July. But less than two weeks after his win he was killed in a car accident, leaving behind a wife and two children.

“It was just an incredible tragedy,” Mitchum said. “I just can’t imagine what they’ve had to go through.”

From WTVD:

From PGA.com:

When PGA Professional Kelly Mitchum prepares to tee off in Thursday’s first round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club, he’ll hear his name announced — but he’ll have Mike Townsend in his thoughts.

“This is going to be a different event for me,” Mitchum said. “It’s one that I wish I could give back. I’ve already tried to kind of imagine what the first tee shot’s going to be like. I’ll definitely have thoughts of Mike there. It really has been very tragic, and we’re trying to honor him in the best way we can. But it’s kind of hard to put into words.

“Mike was a great guy, so personable. I played with him a fair number of times and he was just one of those guys who was easy to talk to, always friendly, always had a smile on his face. Just a good, fun guy to be around. And obviously a fantastic player on top of that. It was one of those kind of sitatuions where you can’t believe when you heard the news of what happened.”

From WRAL:

From PGATour.com:

This week was different, though. The black ribbon on his cap said it all.

Mitchum had been friends with Townsend for more than a decade. The first time the two played golf together was at the Carolinas PGA Assistants Championship, and Mitchum came out on the short end of the stick.

“So I didn’t like him at first,” he said, clearly joking by the broad grin on his face. “No, Mike was a great guy. Fun to be around. Always smiling. Always in a good mood. He’s very much missed.”

From Golfweek:

“I went back quite a ways with Mike,” Mitchum said. “He was about 13 years younger than I, and when he first got into the section, I played with him early on in the (Carolinas) Assistants Championship. He beat me – I’ll fess up. It came down to the last hole, and he won, and that was my first experience with Mike.

“I knew him from then on, and he was just a super guy. Very personable, very friendly, easy to talk to. He was a good guy for our section – we want guys like that. He was supposed to play here this week. I shouldn’t be here. I can’t imagine what that first tee shot is going to be like.”

Finally, also from WTVD:

FULL NOTE FROM KATHERINE TOWNSEND

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Michael Townsend is pictured with his family (l-r), son Spencer, wife Katherine and daughter Ana Kate.

My dad is the one who told me about the beautiful tribute Kelly had planned for Michael. I was completely and totally shocked. It’s been almost nine months since he passed; I can’t help but mark the months because he died on Ana Kate’s first birthday. Everyday I see the world around me continue to move forward, especially with the kids. Each day that passes I see their memories of their father quickly fade. They’ll never know the amazing man that I was so fortunate enough to spend 16 years of my life with. They do have his love for the game of golf and I hope that brings them some sort of connection and comfort in the years to come.

What Kelly is doing means more to me than any dollar amount he raises. He’s showing the world, the golf community, and most importantly my children that the game of golf is about honor and respect. It’s about banding together to support one of their own on and off the course in their time of need. While the kids’ memories of Michael are all but gone, Kelly is showing us that Michael’s spirit will forever live on in the game that he loved. Kelly is a true gentleman and a great role model. Michael was lucky to have him as a competitor and more importantly, a friend. I cannot thank Kelly and the members of the PGA enough for all that they have done for us. I wish that I could be there to cheer him on but I hope he knows I’ll be cheering from the set. I wish him the absolute best of luck and I know Michael would be so incredibly proud of what he’s doing. My heart aches because this was Michael’s dream and he was never able to see it come true, but I still can’t help but be over the moon Kelly has this opportunity.

 

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Tiger Woods’ 16th hole chip-in…with Legos

In your life have you seen anything like that? #TigerWoods #VerneLundquist #PGA

A video posted by Jared Jacobs (@goldyeller) on

We first caught this at Geoff Shackelford’s site and just had to share it as well.

If your kid is into Legos, golf, or just one or the other, show him or her this. Maybe it sparks a new obsession.

Also, to @goldyeller, any chance we could get a Payne in 1999 one of these?

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Ernie Proctor’s Second Wind at Pinehurst No. 2

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89-year-old Ernie Proctor stands on the 18th green with legendary Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae.

By ALEX PODLOGAR

ERNIE PROCTOR STOOD ON THE 18TH TEE OF PINEHURST NO. 2, a golf course just 20 years older than he. His 83-year-old caddie, the legendary Willie McRae, asked Proctor which club he wanted.

“Three wood,” said Proctor, ready to swing a golf club for the first time in at least, he says, 20 years.

McRae ambled around the bag and reached for the 3 wood. But as the caddie extended his right arm – an arm that has pulled clubs for presidents, celebrities, superstar athletes and in events such as the 1951 Ryder Cup and 1999 U.S. Open – Proctor changed his mind.

“Ah, let’s hit the driver,” Proctor said.

McRae happily obliged. “Now you’re talkin’.”

McRae set the ball on the tee. After a warmup swing, Proctor addressed the ball. After one last glance up a fairway all of the game’s greatest legends have walked, Proctor took the driver back.

“Yessir!” McRae sang. “That’s a beaut! A beaut!”

Off the tee in the air, the ball came to rest about 100 yards away, right in the middle of the fairway.

****

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Ernie Proctor tees off the 18th hole of Pinehurst No. 2 as caddie Willie McRae looks on.

IT’S NOT OFTEN McRAE, who’s been caddying at Pinehurst for seven decades, loops for someone older than himself. But that was the case on Wednesday when Elmcroft Senior Living resident Ernie Proctor, at a spry 89 years old, came to Pinehurst to feel young again. As part of Second Wind Dreams, a nonprofit organization helping assisted living people an opportunity to fulfill a dream experience, Proctor was able to play the 18th hole of No. 2 under a brilliant Carolina blue sky.

Joined by his wife Erica, Proctor met McRae in front of Pinehurst’s storied clubhouse, walked through the hallway lined with vintage photographs, and settled into a golf cart alongside McRae, who regaled his golfer with stories of Ben Hogan, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.  McRae was a frequent golfing partner of Earl Woods while the two were stationed together in the Army.

“Forty years ago, they used to call me a tiger,” Proctor told McRae. “Now they call me, ‘Cubby.’”

Joking aside, Proctor needed little assistance as he made his way to Pinehurst’s famed practice range, Maniac Hill. Side-by-side, Proctor and McRae hit wedges together, bantering about long ago days in the Army. Wearing a U.S. Kids Golf cap, Proctor spoke of his favorites, from Woods to Mickelson to Spieth to the U.S. Kids golfers he used to watch outside his window at his home in Pinehurst.

“Oh, I love seeing the kids,” he said.

****

 

PROCTOR DIDN’T NEED TO HIT any more shots up the 18th. He asked McRae to pick his ball up, and the two rode slowly up the fairway toward the 18th green. There, McRae pulled the putter and a couple of golf balls, setting Proctor up to roll a few putts. McRae gave him the line, and Proctor nearly holed the second putt he tried from about 20 feet.

“Ooooohh!” Proctor sighed, his knees buckling like a tour pro’s. “That’s a good one right there,” McRae beamed. “Looks like you’ve done this before.”

After a few more putts, the gentlemen doffed their caps and shook hands. Proctor visited the Payne Stewart statue, then retired to the veranda and a rocking chair, a cold drink in his hand, watching as the golfers came through.

Moments before his tour of the 18th, a large corporate group had finished play on No. 2 for the day. Many of them watched Proctor from the veranda as he putted on 18, and came over to him as he rocked the April afternoon away.

Proctor shook hands, he smiled, and he asked of each and every person who came up to him, “What’d you shoot?”

He’d ponder each score, nod his head, and, more than once, let his company know he once had an ace on the 9th hole of No. 2.

On this day, it was an easy memory to recall.

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