Pinehurst Heritage Archive

When the shot didn’t fall for North Carolina – in golf

North Carolina came agonizingly close to winning a national championship in basketball this season, only to see its hopes ripped away by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins at the buzzer.

As gut-wrenching a moment as it was for the Tar Heels’ faithful, the finish calls to mind another heartbreaking Heels finish, but one that comes from the world of golf.

And it includes none other than Arnold Palmer.

Perhaps no player has had a greater impact on golf than Arnold Palmer. But his lone win at Pinehurst is a difficult one to find. It’s not the North & South Amateur, which he laments, and where he lost twice in the semifinals. Palmer turned professional in 1954, so he missed the North & South Open, and he was past his prime for the PGA Tour events at Pinehurst in the 1970s and the U.S. Senior Open in 1994.

“It was a great shot that scared me to death, let’s just say that.” -Arnold Palmer

But there is a win at Pinehurst in the Palmer ledger, and he recalls it fondly. But it was a crushing near-miss for the Tar Heels and their star, Harvie Ward.

In 1948, Palmer was a freshman sensation at Wake Forest, competing in the Southern Conference, a precursor to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Near the close of the second round on Pinehurst No. 2, Palmer found himself ahead of his friend and rival Ward. But Ward still had the famed 18th to play, and was comfortably in the fairway.

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Arnold Palmer and Harvie Ward at Pinehurst in the late 1940s.

Palmer should’ve been confident. Ward would need to hole his approach shot just to tie.

But with the ball in the air, Palmer’s heart sank.

“Harvie needed to hole his second shot to tie me,” Palmer said in 2014 before the U.S. Open. “He left it about 3 inches from the hole. I didn’t think it had a chance, but he damn near made it.”

Palmer won the conference championship by a stroke. It’s his only documented Pinehurst win.

“It would’ve dismayed me quite a bit,” Palmer says now of Ward’s shot. “It was a great shot that scared me to death, let’s just say that.”

Neither Wake Forest nor North Carolina won the Southern Conference team championship, though.

Who did?

Duke.

Of course.

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Pinehurst No. 2 – Five Years Later

By Lee Pace

It was a big event in early March 2011 when Pinehurst No. 2 reopened after 12 months of a major facelift under the direction of architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the last four months of it with the course completely shut to golfers.

It was a major milestone as well in June 2014 when the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open were held on consecutive weeks and the course’s restored optics of unkempt, jagged and utterly natural were hailed by golfers and the attendant golf universe.

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Slipping beneath the radar, though, was the 5-year anniversary of the course’s reopening on March 3. The restoration project was never about adjusting Donald Ross’s No. 2 course for the U.S. Open. The purpose simply was to restore the width and bounciness of the fairways and remove the “bermuda creep” of four decades and return the perimeters of the holes to the native hardpan sand, wire grass and pine needles that reflected the look Ross left upon his death in 1948.

By sheer coincidence, Coore happened to be in Pinehurst on March 3, 2016. He had been attending to his recent work at Old Town Club in Winston-Salem earlier in the week and took the opportunity to visit Pinehurst and inspect the continued evolution of No. 2 and consult with course superintendent John Jeffreys on the course’s on-going maintenance.

“Five years? Seriously? I wouldn’t have had any idea,” Coore says.

He takes a stroll around the course on a crisp winter day when members and resort guests have taken every tee time available on No. 2. The fairways are a faint green hue, the result of course officials having discovered a colorant and method five years earlier of giving the grass a hint of color in winter without having to overseed the course with rye grass—a definite deterrent to developing the firm and fast playing conditions they covet. Just two weeks later, after a series of Spring-like days, the natural green would emerge. … Continue Reading

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The Pinehurst No. 2 Restoration – The First Cut

On March 4, 2011, Pinehurst No. 2 reopened following the year-long restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

To commemorate the 5-year anniversary this week, we’ll take a look back on some of the iconic moments of the project. Today, we’ll give you a glimpse of the very first photos taken on the day No. 2’s manicured rough was removed in 2010, beginning the project.

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Every stroke by Payne Stewart aired during the 1999 U.S. Open’s final round

Yes, this has been online for a while. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to hail Michael David Murphy as a genius and great contributor to the game of golf (and Pinehurst).

Below is Murphy’s supercut, which includes EVERY STROKE MADE (AND AIRED) BY PAYNE STEWART DURING THE FINAL ROUND OF THE 1999 U.S. OPEN.

Everything about this is a triumph. Listen to the rhythm of the shots as they are struck throughout. Note the pre-restored Pinehurst No. 2. Marvel at the beautiful golf swing. Remember just how long and perilous the par-saving putt on 16 was.

And then the finish.

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The Man Behind the Payne Stewart Statue

Payne Stewart statue at dusk

A few months ago, there was a terrific feature by Golf Digest’s John Strege on Zenos Frudakis.

Not sure who Zenos Frudakis is? Here, let Strege explain:

It is the bane of the successful contemporary artist that his work is usually better known than his name. In this case, his name is Zenos Frudakis. Ever heard of him?

Yet even the casual golf fan is likely familiar with the sculpture of a celebratory Payne Stewart, one leg in the air, his right fist piercing the sky, on display near the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2 where Stewart struck this pose as he won the U.S. Open in 1999.

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There is a lot of great stuff in the piece. Among the best:

“We’re not going to forget these people and what they accomplished and meant to us,” Frudakis said. “Bronze helps us do that because it endures. That’s the reason the Egyptians made sculpture.”

In 2001, Zenos Frudakis poses with Payne Stewart’s family at the dedication of the statue behind the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2.

Frudakis can hold his own with anyone in golf:

“Do you golf?” Nicklaus asked him while posing in his home adjacent to Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

“No,” Frudakis replied.

“That’s all right, that’s all right,” Nicklaus said.

“Do you sculpt?” he asked Nicklaus.

“No,” Nicklaus replied.

“That’s all right, that’s all right,” Frudakis said, apparently with glee.

There may never be a better one of these (and we should know). Daughter Chelsea posing at her dad’s statue. #bestever #Pinehurst

A photo posted by Pinehurst Resort (@pinehurstresort) on

The Legacy:

Soon after Payne Stewart died in a freak airplane mishap in October of ’99, Frudakis was commissioned by Pinehurst Resort to capture that iconic moment when the winning putt dropped. He recalls traveling to Pinehurst and encountering a despondent Stewart family. “I remember I went into the golf shop and his son [Aaron] was sitting on the floor in a corner by himself, looking very sad,” he said. “His widow [Tracey] looked devastated.”

“It’s extremely gratifying for me, to see people take the pose, especially to see his daughter do it.” – Zenos Frudakis

The sculpture he produced was unveiled in 2001, but its impact was not fully realized until the U.S. Open there in 2014. By then it had become a popular landmark at Pinehurst, when hordes of fans were photographed striking a similar pose alongside the Stewart statue, including Stewart’s daughter Chelsea. “The coolest statue photo you’ll see this week,” the PGA Tour called it on Instagram.

“It’s extremely gratifying for me, to see people take the pose, especially to see his daughter do it,” Frudakis said, “to see them interact with the piece, to see [Chelsea] laughing, smiling.

“It’s his moment of victory. It was exciting. With Payne Stewart at the peak of his career, this was his Icarus moment, to have fallen so tragically from such a high place. I think for a lot of people there is some healing for having the sculpture. The sense with bronze is that people have wanted to make something that will last because we don’t.”

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