Pinehurst Heritage Archive

Inside the Ropes with Payne’s caddie at the 1999 U.S. Open

Mike Hicks, who won three major championships as Payne Stewart’s caddie, recently spoke at Pinehurst for the Partner Team Championship, taking a few moments to tell us what was going through his and Payne Stewart’s minds down the stretch of the 1999 U.S. Open against Phil Mickelson.

We start with Stewart’s incredible par save at the par-4 16th hole:

 

 

On to 17, where Stewart made his move:

 

 

Trouble at 18 off the tee:

 

 

The Pitch – And don’t go long:

 

 

One Moment in Time – The Read:

 

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“There’s going to be a lot of heartache out there” – Ben Crenshaw, Mike Davis relish No. 2′s U.S. Open possibilities

Ben Crenshaw, right, and Bill Coore look over the restoration of Pinehurst No. 2 early in the process.

Ben Crenshaw, right, and Bill Coore look over the restoration of Pinehurst No. 2 early in the process. Photo by John Gessner

“Being a Scot, Ross interpreted the word ‘rough’ to mean ‘broken ground.’” – Charles Price

By Lee Pace

If there was one underlying guidepost that Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw used in their 2010-12 restoration of Pinehurst No. 2, it’s this passage from author and historian Charles Price that appeared in GOLF Magazine in 1979. Crenshaw, an avid student of golf history, knew that Price had lived in Pinehurst at two separate times in his life and also had lived in St. Andrews, thus Price’s opinions carried plenty of weight on the subjects of architect Donald Ross and traditional golf design.

“Being a Scot, Ross interpreted the word ‘rough’ to mean ‘broken ground,’” Price wrote. “In other words, it was never tended in any other way. The ‘fairway’ meant the same to him as the word does to a ship’s pilot, a navigable channel through rocks, sand banks and other obstructions that is the safest way for a vessel to leave or enter a harbor—to leave the tee and enter the green. Consequently, he didn’t create rough to border a fairway. He ‘dredged’ a channel—a fairway—through the rough and left it as he found it.”

Crenshaw harkened back to those words one recent evening in Pinehurst when he and USGA Executive Director Mike Davis joined Pinehurst officials to inspect the golf course and tweak their preparation and maintenance plans just seven months away from the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open.

“One sentence kept going over in my mind, something Charlie Price wrote a long time ago,” Crenshaw said. “Fairways were meant to be an oasis encased in sand, pine straw, pine needles and wire grass. That statement never left our mind.”

Pinehurst No. 2 The 13th Hole - Then and Now

Pinehurst No. 2 The 13th Hole – Then and Now

 

First approached in the summer of 2009 with the idea to restore the course to its original width and character native to the Sandhills of North Carolina, Crenshaw admits that he and his design partner of some three decades tiptoed into the project with some reservations.

“We always thought the course was there, that the bones were intact,” Crenshaw said, referencing No. 2’s evolved look into a svelte presentation of smooth, grassy playing surface. “But we thought it could be depicted in a different manner. We said, ‘We need to tackle this, we need to give it a shot.’

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We still miss you, Payne

Oct. 25, 1999.

We still miss you, Payne.

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Reading Payne’s Putt – Pinehurst’s Caddies Reveal the Secret (Video)

 

Off the tee, Payne Stewart was in trouble.

Just ask legendary Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae.

Stewart’s drive leaked to the right, leaving him 196 yards to the hole and in the deep rough. McRae, who has looped for U.S. presidents, Michael Jordan and countless others for more than 70 years at Pinehurst No. 2, knew the tee shot could be fatal. (Johnny Miller thought so, too.) Stewart would have to lay up.

We all know what happened from there.

But how did Payne make the putt to win the 1999 U.S. Open?

He knew something no one else can see.

Willie McRae knows it. So does Eddie Mac.

So do all the Pinehurst caddies.

Want to make Payne’s putt?

Watch the video.

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VIDEO: Tales from the Pinehurst Caddyshack – Willie and Eddie Mac

 

What can Pinehurst legend Willie McRae, a charter member of the Pinehurst Caddie Hall of Fame, and his pal Eddie McKenzie tell you about Pinehurst No. 2?

Quite a bit.

Among the topics? How they treat every golfer at Pinehurst, the 1951 Ryder Cup and Ben Hogan, how they read putts, and where Dead City is. Willie and Eddie Mac are always willing to share, and in this video, they do.

Until the next installment From the Caddyshack (and there will be another, including how to read Payne Stewart’s famous putt on 18), feel free to tell us about your best Pinehurst Caddie experience in the comments section below. We’ll be sure to pass them along to your favorite caddie.

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