Pinehurst Golf News Archive

Legendary Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae to be enshrined in CGA Hall of Fame

With McRae’s fellow caddies and family looking on, Carolinas Golf Association officials make announcement at Pinehurst No. 2

Willie McRae has caddied among the towering longleaf pines of Pinehurst for more than seven decades. On his 10th birthday, his father, also a caddie at Pinehurst, brought Willie to the golf course to work. It spawned a career few could ever hope to replicate.

On Thursday, the Carolinas Golf Association announced McRae, 83, will be enshrined in the CGA Hall of Fame in February. Joining McRae behind the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2 as fellow caddies and family members surrounded him, the CGA celebrated one of golf’s greatest careers.

“It’s a very proud moment for the Carolinas Golf Association to make this announcement at Pinehurst,” said G. Jackson Hughes Jr., the chairman of the CGA Hall of Fame selection committee. “Willie McRae has meant so much to so many people for so many years here at Pinehurst. It’s a well-deserved award.”

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Legendary Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae sits in the locker room of the Pinehurst clubhouse.

McRae’s legendary time at Pinehurst traces much of the area’s rise in the annals of American golf. He has caddied for five presidents, for celebrities from Mickey Mantle to Michael Jordan and many of golf’s greatest figures, including Donald Ross, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead.

“Willie McRae has meant so much to so many people for so many years here at Pinehurst. It’s a well-deserved award.” -G. Jackson Hughes Jr., CGA official

“I’ve always been thankful to be able to work at a place like Pinehurst,” McRae said. “Everybody’s always been so nice to me. They’ve always made me think I was the important person.”

McRae is one of just two living participants of the 1951 Ryder Cup, which was contested at Pinehurst. He has caddied in several of golf’s greatest championships, ranging from the Ryder Cup to multiple U.S. Opens and U.S Women’s Opens. A great player in his own time, in the 1950s the U.S. Army stationed McRae at Fort Dix instead of shipping him overseas, installing him instead as the captain of the golf team.

“Willie always says that everybody is somebody, that everyone has a right to be treated well,” said Pinehurst President Tom Pashley. “But what we all know is that Willie has always been one of the most important people at Pinehurst.

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“It’s nice to know that with his enshrinement into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame, Willie’s picture will be on the Hall of Fame wall in The Carolina Hotel forever. To know that his family will always be able to walk by that photo and see how much Willie has meant to the game of golf is really special.”

McRae’s legacy continues at Pinehurst. McRae’s son, Paul, has been one of the leading instructors of the Pinehurst Golf Academy for more than 20 years, and his grandson, Darick, also caddies on No. 2. Willie McRae’s philosophy is the embodiment of the Pinehurst spirit: “To me,” McRae says, “everybody’s a celebrity. Everybody is special in their unique way.”

The Hall of Fame announcement was a wonderful moment for the McRae family, Darick said.

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Willie McRae, center, is joined by (l-r) the CGA’s Walter Todd Sr., CGA Executive Director Jack Nance, Pinehurst Resort President Tom Pashley and CGA Hall of Fame Selection Committee Chairman G. Jackson Hughes Jr. on the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2. The CGA announced on Thursday that McRae would be enshrined in the Carolinas Golf Association Hall of Fame in February. (Photo by John Gessner)

“It just shows the value of hard work and what it can do for you,” Darick said. “He’s 83 years old and has been caddying for 73 years, and today shows how that hard work pays off.

“It’s his inspiration that keeps me going. Now, I may not be doing it for 73 years, but today was awesome.”

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Win a Pinehurst Resort getaway

It’s been a fun couple of weeks at Pinehurst, both recalling the 1951 Ryder Cup played here as well as the Ryder Cup Wager, which could not have worked out better for Pinehurst. (Thanks, Team USA!)

As one last celebration of this period in Pinehurst history, we’re offering a chance for you to win a golf getaway to Pinehurst. It’s very easy to enter.

We’ll run the contest through Monday and announce the winner next week. You can enter each day, and you get an extra entry every time you share the contest.

Good Luck!

 

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Peyton Manning at Pinehurst

Peyton Manning discusses why the golf is great at Pinehurst, what the game does for him, and even adds a golf tip for those about to tee off on Pinehurst No. 2.

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Steve Elkington’s Secret Golf recalls the 1951 Ryder Cup at Pinehurst

 

A year ago, Steve Elkington’s golf show, Secret Golf, profiled legendary Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae. During the filming, Elkington called his longtime mentor Jack Burke, and McRae and Burke reconnected…for the first time since the 1951 Ryder Cup.

McRae and Burke are the last two living participants from the 1951 Ryder Cup. McRae, now 83, has been caddying at Pinehurst since he was 10 years old, and at 18, caddied for Fred Daly during the matches on No. 2. (Ben Hogan was in the same group.) Burke, now 93, was the youngest player in the victorious United States team, at 28.

A month ago, Elkington saw to it that McRae and Burke would meet one more time, and this week, released his show recalling the 1951 Ryder Cup online. There’s so much here, including a match between Elkington and the great broadcaster Peter Oosterhuis, played on Pinehurst No. 2. Elkington, to his great credit, has allowed us to post the show for you to watch free of charge for the next few days. We hope you enjoy it.

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Pinehurst No. 2 flag flies at The Old Course

St Andrews, the Home of Golf, has honored the Ryder Cup Wager, and today is flying Pinehurst No. 2’s pin flag on the 18th hole of The Old Course.

What a sight to see.

Here is a beautiful photo of the flag flying proudly after Team USA won the Ryder Cup:

The maintenance crew was ready first thing this beautiful Scottish morning to roll out to the 18th hole.

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In 1951, Pinehurst No. 2 was the site of the Ryder Cup, very much a different event then than it is today. The Americans, led by Sam Snead and Ben Hogan, had little trouble dispatching the British team 9 ½-2 ½.

Obviously, things have changed.

While it has been 65 years since Pinehurst hosted the Ryder Cup, we still feel a lasting attachment to one of golf’s greatest events. It’s a proud moment in the storied history of Pinehurst.

Now, though, came a chance at another Ryder Cup moment for Pinehurst – and for The Old Course at St Andrews.

It was the RYDER CUP WAGER.

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