Pinehurst Heritage Archive

The Padgett Family Legacy at Pinehurst

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Don Padgett II at Pinehurst

BY LEE PACE

Two snapshots from 27 years of Padgetts at Pinehurst:

The first one is from the spring of 1987. Don Padgett Sr., the new director of golf at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, is having lunch in the resort clubhouse and talking about bringing his four-plus decades of experience as a club professional and national officer of the PGA of America to his job at Pinehurst, now just three years into the ownership regime of Robert Dedman Sr. and his ClubCorp empire. Padgett is wearing a white dress shirt, necktie and cardigan sweater.

“This is a multi-million-dollar operation, and I’m administering that business,” he says. “I need to look the part.”

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

After lunch, he walks to the driving range, dubbed “Maniac Hill” many years earlier for the fervor with which golfers of all rank and file search for the Holy Grail of the golf swing. Padgett surveys the array of golfers striking balls in early spring sunshine and says, “Anyone important in golf has hit balls right here. If you’re a golfer and can’t get excited at this, you need to take up tennis.”

The second is from his son, Don II, in the spring of 2010, seven years after his father’s death and six into taking the reins as the president and COO of Pinehurst. The club is two months into a daring and admittedly risky restoration of Pinehurst No. 2, the idea hatched by Padgett and the project headlined by removing some 40 acres of grass and re-exposing the natural hardpan sand and unkempt look the course’s designer, Donald Ross, so embraced in the early 1900s. Recently Padgett’s office has been peppered in the height of the spring golf season with complaints that the resort isn’t taking proper care of this national treasure, when it fact it was simply in the early stages of retrofitting and rediscovering what Ross left upon his death in 1948.

“I can take the heat,” Padgett says. “I can sleep because when I lay my head on the pillow, I know we’re doing the right thing.”

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Nice year, Martin

If for some reason you haven’t warmed up yet to the thought of Martin Kaymer as the 2014 U.S. Open champion at Pinehurst, it’s time to embrace him.

We were reminded once again during singles matches of the Ryder Cup in the fashion he closed out Master Champion Bubba Watson:

As great as that was, it’s not even close to his clear shining moment in Ryder Cup history:

He’s already risen to the World No. 1 ranking once, has two major championships, and put together one of the historic U.S. Open performances in June, carding the lowest U.S. Open round on Pinehurst No. 2 not once, but twice:

Pinehurst is supremely proud to have Martin Kaymer as one of our legendary champions.

Martin Kaymer Sunday 18

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(I mean, he’s so good he inspired THIS:)

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The Golf Swing of Donald Ross

Usually, it’s a photo. That’s usually what you see of Donald Ross with a golf club in his hand.

But have you ever seen his golf swing?

We hadn’t either.

At least not for the last 70 years.

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Payne and…The Light

Did you catch it? The flash of light? Revealed as part of a longer time lapse video (view it below), note the eerie flash of light illuminating the Payne Stewart statue behind the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2.

Just one of the many little things we liked about archiving Pinehurst No. 2 in the 10 weeks following the U.S. Opens. We think it’s much, much more than just watching grass grow. To wit:

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The King at Pinehurst

The great Arnold Palmer turned 85 this week. We take a moment to reflect on The King’s grand legacy at The Cradle of American Golf

BY LEE PACE

Doris Palmer was fraught with anxiety. It was the 1954 U.S. Amateur at the Country Club of Detroit, and her 25-year-old-son, Arnold, was about to make a serious mistake. She approached Richard Tufts, the president of Pinehurst Inc. and USGA secretary, with her concerns.

“Oh, Mr. Tufts, I’m worried to death,” Mrs. Palmer said. “I’m afraid Arnold’s going to turn pro after this.”

“With that swing of his, he’ll never make it on tour.” Richard Tufts

Tufts’ primary frame of reference for young Palmer’s golf ability was the North and South Amateur, the tournament the Tufts family ran each spring on Pinehurst No. 2. Palmer never played particularly well in that event, losing by a monster score like 12-and-11 to Frank Stranahan in 1949.

“I’m sorry to hear that, Mrs. Palmer,” Tufts replied. “With that swing of his, he’ll never make it on tour.”

Palmer won the Amateur that week, did in fact turn professional and proceeded to make hash of his critics. Palmer and Tufts were reunited 14 years later in Charlotte, when Palmer spoke on Tufts’ behalf at the latter’s induction ceremony into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. They shared a laugh over Tufts’ gaffe.

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