Pinehurst Heritage Archive

Remembering the great Bill Campbell

Distinguished amateur champion golfer Bill Campbell, left, accepts the trophy after winning the prestigious North & South Amateur at Pinehurst in 1953. Campbell won the North & South four times, good for the second-most all-time in the 113-year history of the prestigious amateur championship.

Distinguished amateur champion golfer Bill Campbell, left, accepts gifts after winning the prestigious North & South Amateur at Pinehurst in 1953. Campbell won the North & South four times, good for the second-most all-time in the 113-year history of the prestigious amateur championship. Photo courtesy of the Tufts Archives

BY LEE PACE

The news of the passing of amateur golf eminence William C. Campbell on Aug. 30 sent me to my file drawer to pull the manila repository of notes, letters, photos and clippings on the gentleman from Huntington, W.Va.

I met him in the winter of 1991 while writing the book Pinehurst Stories, and he proved over more than two decades to be a font of insight, color and detail on the rich lives of Pinehurst and amateur golf from the mid-20th century and beyond. A four-time winner of the North and South Amateur, the 1964 U.S. Amateur champion and at various times the head of the USGA and the R&A, Campbell embodied the skills of running a business, raising a family and playing expert golf—the latter for the pure enjoyment of it without financial return. Campbell was 90 years old upon his passing.

Among the highlights from my notes and conversations over the years is this excerpt from a talk he gave to the Tin Whistles Club of Pinehurst in 1990:

“Indeed it is a pleasure for me to return to Pinehurst, where I left part of my heart long ago—another part having been left in St. Andrews. I regard Pinehurst as the golf capital of the New World, our own St. Andrews, if you will, each inspiring pilgrimages from afar. Pinehurst is more than good golf courses; it is a state of a mind and a feeling for the game, its aesthetics, courtesies and emotions.”

Bill Campbell, who won the 1964 U.S. Amateur, won his first and fourth North & South Amateur championships a staggering 17 years apart - the longest span between championships in the Amateur's history.

Bill Campbell, who won the 1964 U.S. Amateur, won his first and fourth North & South Amateur championships a staggering 17 years apart – the longest span between a single player’s victories in the North & South Amateur’s history.

‘And this from that initial interview about his annual springtime visit to Pinehurst for the North and South Amateur:

“I made a point to make that pilgrimage every year, except for one year when I was running for Congress. In 1950 I was invited to play in the Masters—what a great combination that was, Augusta and Pinehurst. I attached myself to Pinehurst. I relished the relationships, the fixtures at the club, the caddies, the fellow golfers. Pinehurst was a pure experience, you got back to basics, basics in the sense of playing golf for the pure enjoyment of the game, the competition and the fellowship.”

On the flavor and personality of No. 2:

“It had many characteristics of a true seaside links and you had many fast-running, bouncing approach shots. I played well over a hundred competitive rounds there and never got tired of the strategic choices you had to make.”

And from a 2011 conversation about his ancestral home of Scotland and its position as the birthplace of golf:

“Life wasn’t always easy for the Scots. They had a lot of fight in them. They had to. They had to fight for everything. They learned that life was not always fair. But as long as you had a chance, you were all right. Golf is like that. You hit a bad shot, you get a bad bounce, what do you want? A chance for a recovery, a chance for redemption.”

Lee Pace is a regular contributor to the Pinehurst Blog. He latest book, “The Golden Age of Pinehurst—The Rebirth of No. 2,” is available in all retail shops at Pinehurst.

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Why Pinehurst in 2014?

 

Why Pinehurst in 2014? Why does the USGA feel like Pinehurst is the ideal setting to stage unprecedented back-to-back U.S. Opens in 2014?

It’s a question many asked when the initial announcement was made. It’s a question that continues to persist.

So over the course of the last year, we’ve asked some of the game’s best players a simple question:

Why Pinehurst?

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Pinehurst No. 2 – A Timeline of Greatness

CELEBRATING OVER 100 YEARS OF PINEHURST NO. 2

In 2007, Pinehurst Resort celebrated the Centennial of its most famed golf course, Pinehurst No. 2.  Site of more individual amateur and championship events, its history marks the story of the game itself – from early agronomy and course architecture, to the making of legends.  We invite you to share in its rich heritage.

Historic Timeline

A sand green on an early photo of Pinehurst No. 2. Photo courtesy of the Tufts Archives.

A sand green on an early photo of Pinehurst No. 2. Photo courtesy of the Tufts Archives

1907:    Pinehurst No. 2 opens as an 18-hole course for the fall season.  Total yardage:  5,860.

The Pinehurst Outlook  reports in 1907 “Pinehurst is now watched by the entire world in the affairs of golf, for it sets the fashion in this particular just as Paris is the center to which the world of fashion looks expectantly spring, summer, fall and winter.”

Donald Ross, course architect, incorporates such elements as 60 ft. square sand/clay greens, “whisker” mounds of native wire grass, cross hazards, and sand bunkers in front of the greens.

1908:    Walter Travis plays Pinehurst No. 2 in October and tells the local newspaper, “I know of no course, north or south, which provides a more thorough test or better golf, and none which gives such diversity.”

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Donald Ross, Pinehurst and the PGA Championship

The cover to the program for the 1936 PGA Championhsip at Pinehurst.

The cover to the program for the 1936 PGA Championhsip at Pinehurst.

 

Donald Ross: A Golf Professional

BY LEE PACE

The PGA Championship has been anchored in its early August time slot in the golf calendar since the mid-1960s, but in the old days it was a match play competition held in May or June. And for five years in the 1950s, it was played the week after the British Open, making it impractical for golfers to play in both of what are now considered major championships. Sometimes the tournament dates were set to coincide with the operational calendar of the host course.

A case in point was 1936, the venue was Pinehurst and the date was the week before Thanksgiving.

 

A vintage photo of The Carolina Hotel. Photo Courtesy of the Tufts Archives

A vintage photo of The Carolina Hotel. Photo Courtesy of the Tufts Archives

 

Pinehurst was conceived as a wintertime resort for residents of the Northeast who had neither the time nor the resources for a two-day train journey to Florida during the cold-weather months. Thus The Carolina Hotel and Pinehurst Country Club were open from mid-autumn to mid-spring; they closed down in the summer and the cooks, waiters, bellhops, housekeepers, golf pros and caddies moved to the mountains or New England for summertime work.

The U.S. Open was contested in the fall at times during the very early part of the 20th century, but it has been essentially locked into its June dates since World War I. So Pinehurst was never an option for the Open until the advent and proliferation of air conditioning in the 1960s allowed the Resort to expand to a year-around operation.

 

In the mid-1930s, famed architect Donald Ross, perhaps miffed because of losing out on a chance to design Bobby Jones' new course in Augusta, Ga., refocused his efforts into his prived Pinehurst No. 2. A photo from the 1936 North & South shows the care Ross took in updating his gem. This is No. 2's second green.

In the mid-1930s, famed architect Donald Ross, perhaps miffed because of losing out on a chance to design Bobby Jones’ new course in Augusta, Ga., refocused his efforts into his prized Pinehurst No. 2. A photo from the 1936 North & South shows the care Ross took in updating his gem from sand to clay to grass greens. This is No. 2′s second green. Photo Courtesy of the Tufts Archives.

 

But the PGA was more flexible with its dates, and an important connection between the PGA and Pinehurst head golf professional and architect-in-residence Donald Ross made the 1936 event a logical arrangement for both the PGA and Pinehurst. Though Ross is known as the foremost golf architect in America in the first half of the 1900s—with nearly 400 courses to his credit, including 2013’s PGA venue, Oak Hill in Rochester—he came to America in 1899 from Scotland with the skills of a golf pro and green superintendent.

Charlotte Observer columnist Jake Wade shed some interesting light on Ross’s priorities in May 1945 upon Ross’s visit to Charlotte to work on his design of Myers Park Country Club.  Despite Ross’s fame and popularity in designing golf courses, Wade noted that Ross had always maintained his membership in the PGA.

“Mr. Ross looks like a banker and indeed must be quite a wealthy man,” Wade wrote. “Yet with his dignity and reserve and gentleness of manner and easy, aristocratic touch, he still likes to be known as a golf professional.”

No doubt Ross’s connections with the PGA and his desire to showcase a major overhaul of his prized No. 2 course worked to bring the PGA Championship to Pinehurst. There was little if any new design work available in the throes of the Great Depression throughout the first half of the 1930s, so naturally Ross turned his attention to the course he could access by walking out his back door and onto the third green.

 

Alister MacKenzie and Donald Ross

Alister MacKenzie and Donald Ross

 

And the proud Scotsman was motivated by the emergence of a new course in Augusta, Ga., one conceived by golf champion Bob Jones. Ross believed he had a handshake agreement with Jones to build what would become Augusta National Golf Club, but Jones later decided to work with Alister MacKenzie after seeing MacKenzie’s work at Cypress Point on the California coast.

“Ross was a proud, reserved, standoffish man, almost egotistically so,” author and historian Charles Price noted. “He was miffed. He considered himself to be America’s foremost architect.”

Ross and green superintendent Frank Maples had made significant agronomic improvements to No. 2 in recent years. They converted all the tees to grass in 1929. They laid five miles of irrigation pipe down the fairways in 1933 so the new winter rye grass could be properly watered (architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw would use those very pipe lines in 2010-11 in restoring the fairways to their original dimensions and contours). And by 1934, Ross believed he had developed a strain of Bermuda grass that could survive cold weather and heavy foot traffic well enough that he built three experimental grass greens on No. 2. They did well over the 1934-35 season, and he converted all the greens on No. 2 from sand and clay to Bermuda the following year.

 

The fourth green of Pinehurst No. 2, as it appeared during the 1936 North & South - the same year Pinehurst hosted its first major event, the 1936 PGA Championship. Photo courtesy of the Tufts Archives.

The fourth green of Pinehurst No. 2, as it appeared during the 1936 North & South – the same year Pinehurst hosted its first major event, the 1936 PGA Championship. Photo courtesy of the Tufts Archives.

 

Finally, Ross arrived his current hole configuration in 1935, adding the fourth and fifth holes and abandoning two that ran between the current 10th and 11th on ground now occupied by course No. 4. The fifth hole, incidentally, was originally played as a par 5 at 467 yards, until it was changed to a par 4 prior to the 1951 Ryder Cup Matches; that historical precedent is among the reasons the USGA will play it as a par 5 again for the 2014 U.S. Open.

“No. 2 has always been a pet of mine,” Ross said. “In building these fine new greens, I have been able to carry out many of the changes which I have long visualized but only now have been able to put into practice.”

Another key change was sculpting the sandy soil around the new putting surfaces into the swales, humps and hollows Ross knew so well from his hometown course in Dornoch, on the northeast coast of Scotland.

 

The 6th hole of Pinehurst No. 2.

The 6th hole of Pinehurst No. 2 in the mid-1940s.

 

“This mounding makes possible an infinite variety of nasty short shots that no other form of hazard can call for,” Ross said prior to the 1936 PGA. “Competitors whose second shots have wandered a bit will be disturbed by these innocent appearing slopes and by the shot they will have to invent to recover.”

It was the perfect confluence of events and the times for Pinehurst to host its first national championship.

“I have actually played No. 2 in my mind, in marvelous figures, a hundred times the last few months while I have waited for sleep to take me,” Tommy Armour said prior to the tournament. “It’s the kind of course that gets into the blood of an old trooper.”

 

Lee Pace is a regular contributor to the Pinehurst Blog. He latest book, “The Golden Age of Pinehurst—The Rebirth of No. 2,” is available in all retail shops at Pinehurst.

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Denny Shute – The Forgotten PGA Champion

Denny Shute receives the Wanamaker Trophy for winning the 1936 PGA Championship at Pinehurst.

Denny Shute receives the Wanamaker Trophy for winning the 1936 PGA Championship at Pinehurst. Photo courtesy of the Tufts Archives

 

Denny Shute is a Hall-of-Famer, a 3-time major champion, and won Pinehurst No. 2′s first foray into major championship golf in the 1936 PGA Championship. So why isn’t he remembered among the greatest names in the game’s grand history?

BY LEE PACE

Trivia question on the cusp of the PGA Championship, beginning Thursday:

Tiger Woods won back-to-back PGAs in 1999 and 2000 at Medinah and Valhalla, becoming the first player to collect consecutive PGA titles since who, when and where?

Since Denny Shute in 1936-37 at Pinehurst No. 2 and Pittsburgh Field Club.

Denny who?

He was known as “The Human Icicle,” a man so reserved and demure in the public eye that he sometimes had his wife Hettie accept a trophy and paycheck on his behalf.

Densmore “Denny” Shute was the son of an English golf professional who had immigrated to the United States and taken a club pro job in West Virginia. The boy began hitting golf balls at 30 months of age and grew into a steady and studious player, not particularly long but accurate and unlikely to make big mistakes. How else could one shoot four straight rounds of 73 at St. Andrews in 1933 en route to winning the British Open championship?

Denny Shute: owner of three major titles, a spot on three U.S. Ryder Cup teams and perhaps the lowest awareness quotient in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

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