Pinehurst Heritage Archive

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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Arnie’s list…

In 2011, Golf Digest posed a question to some of the game’s greats: Of the countless American golf courses you HAVE played, what ranks in your top 10?

Among the lists, a handwritten one from the great Arnold Palmer:

Arnie'sList

Seeing the list again recently, it reminded us of our interview with The King himself during the Monday practice round (Check out some of the comments at that link) of the 2014 U.S. Open. Mr. Palmer was seated on the East Veranda overlooking the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2, greeting visitors, wielding a Sharpie should someone want an autograph, and posing for photos. With us, he spoke of his love of Pinehurst, of the restoration of No. 2, and of his father – and of the one tournament title that got away:

As for the above question, here are a few more players who listed No. 2:

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Martin and Michelle…Welcome (back) to Pinehurst

Trophy Case 1

Photo by John Gessner – Click to Enlarge

While the historic – and fervent – two weeks of the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open have passed, it’s still really busy at Pinehurst.

While plans continue to develop on how the back-to-back national championships will be displayed in Pinehurst’s venerable Clubhouse hallway, the first indications of the triumphant two weeks were visible on Thursday, Aug. 14, when the nameplates honoring Pinehurst’s two most recent champions – Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie – were installed in the trophy case.

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Video: Pinehurst and the PGA Championship

What was Pinehurst like – inside and outside of the ropes – when No. 2 hosted the 1936 PGA Championship?

Watch the video and see:

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The No. 2 Starter’s Box…and what it means

“Of all the golf centers in the world, there is perhaps only one that comes close to sharing the ideas and aspirations of St. Andrews – ‘Pinehurst.’”

Links Trust, 1998

Ahead of the 2014 back-to-back U.S. Opens, Pinehurst further solidified its relationship with the Old Course at St. Andrews with the dedication of the No. 2 Starter’s Box, built to resemble the longtime starter’s box that once stood at the first tee on Old Course.

But while it’s one thing for Pinehurst to say it enjoys ties to St. Andrews, it’s another for St. Andrews to reaffirm that relationship. And upon seeing the new No. 2 starter’s box before a round at the U.S. Open, that’s exactly what St. Andrews Links Trust Chief Executive Euan Loudon did in the video above.

And for us, that feels pretty special.

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