Pinehurst Heritage Archive

Your best memories of Payne Stewart


Our hearts grew about three sizes Saturday as we read your favorite memories of the late Payne Stewart.

Your posts proved Payne was far more than just a great golfer. He was a devoted father and husband, a thoughtful friend, a quiet mentor and a frequent prankster.

Check out a few of the best Payne stories and feel free to leave your own memories in the comment section below.


“I was just a 12 year old, brand new to golf. I watched Payne’s epic run at the U.S. Open with my grandfather, who had gotten me into the game. I had no idea at the time what I was witnessing. I thought so much of Payne Stewart and his style that I wanted to wear knickers when I played golf. My mother and I looked high and low for some to no avail. Not long after, the plane accident happened. I shed some tears when the news broke. He was my first golfing idol. Remembering the day my gramps and I watched that final round at Pinehurst is a very treasured memory of mine as he passed away a few years ago.”
-Tyler Garten

“As Payne came down the steps to sign his score card, I got to High Five him and say, “Happy Fathers Day, Payne!” His reply, ‘This is the greatest Fathers Day ever!'”
Pat Collins

“Growing up with him in Springfield, Missouri and having the pleasure of playing golf with him a lot. I served as an honorary pall bearer at his funeral. I had the honor of playing in the 2013 North South at Pinehurst. I finished 12th, but had a wonderful time and loved seeing all the wonderful treasures around the resort.”
-Stephany Jackson Powell

Payne statue

“While I was working for Arnold Palmer at North Port National Golf Club in Osage Beach, Missouri, we were having a grand opening featuring Payne, Arnold, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino in a televised Michelob Skins Classic. I was fortunate enough to give Payne a ride on a golf cart from 17 green to 18 tee. It was only a couple hundred yards, but we chatted a bit. When we arrived at the tee, he shook my hand and thanked me for the ride. He was a real class act, his death was a hard blow to the great game of golf.”
-Hal Hogan

“I saw and talked to him at the Buick Open many years ago. He was so charming and loved his fans. He talked about his haircut and his golf game, and was easy to approach.
-Brenda Schoener

“Watched Payne take a 10 at the par 3 12th hole at Muirfield Village. He always had a smile on his face and laughing with the crowd as the score on the hole increased. Class act.
– Jeffrey Mascolo


We lost Payne Stewart 15 years ago today. What are your favorite memories of the golf legend? We like this one.

A photo posted by Pinehurst Resort (@pinehurstresort) on


“At the Ryder Cup in Brookline during a practice round he walked up behind a little boy, put his arm around his shoulders and walked away about 10 yards. The boy thought it was his dad, so when he saw it was Payne he was so excited. Payne was very gracious. I will never forget that image of him.”

“The story of him filling Paul Azinger’s shoes with bananas after Zinger holed a bunker shot to beat him. Zinger was out doing all of the winner’s duties and Payne paid a clubhouse attendant to open Azinger’s locker. Zinger didn’t have a clue but immediately knew who was responsible. Great player, better man.”

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We miss you, Payne

Payne statue

It’s been almost 15 years since we lost Payne Stewart. Tomorrow marks the anniversary of his death, but he had one heck of a life.

Take a look back on Stewart’s personal and professional trials and triumphs by watching “Love & Payne.” The short documentary by ESPN’s Hannah Storm offers an intimate glance at the golf legend’s life and unexpected death.

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Pinehurst’s Back-to-Back Opens – and what they mean for the game of golf

Martin Kaymer

Martin Kaymer celebrates after winning the 2014 U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2. (Photo by the USGA)

When the USGA’s Mike Davis looks back on the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, what does he see? Two of the most important weeks in the long history of the U.S. Open and the USGA


USGA Executive Director Mike Davis is a keen historian of golf and says when asked to talk about the most memorable and important U.S. Opens in history, he thinks of 1900 at Chicago Golf Club, where Harry Vardon won his first Open—“That was the one that took the Open from a small, mostly regional event into a national and international competition,” Davis says.

He thinks of 1913 at Brookline, when American Francis Ouimet bested the top players from Great Britain —“The game had been dominated by players from the U.K., and here an unknown American wins. It was the kickoff of the great American golfer,” Davis says.

He thinks of Arnold Palmer winning at Cherry Hills in 1960, beating an aging Ben Hogan and a young Jack Nicklaus; of Nicklaus and Tom Watson winning at Pebble in 1972 and ’82, respectively; and of Tiger Woods’ playoff win over Rocco Mediate on a broken leg at Torrey Pines in 2008.

“In a few years from now, I think we’ll look back on the 114th U.S. Open and the 69th Women’s Open and say that in a lot of ways, it was a seminal moment in the game of golf.” – Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director

And he’ll now think of the two weeks in June 2014 at Pinehurst No. 2, when Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie won back-to-back the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open.

“We saw this year we don’t have to have real narrow fairways, we don’t have to have to have long, rough grass to have successful U.S. Opens,” Davis says. “In a few years from now, I think we’ll look back on the 114th U.S. Open and the 69th Women’s Open and say that in a lot of ways, it was a seminal moment in the game of golf and championship golf and sustainability of the game. These two weeks will rank right up there with the best ever.

“We have to celebrate how well Martin Kaymer played and how Michelle Wie won her first major championship. It was a great story on water use and a great story of the restoration of one of the great golf courses in the country—in the world, for that matter. It’s going to be hard to give these two weeks enough accolades for what they’re going to mean to the game.”

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A Timelapse: Putter Boy at Sunrise

The Putter Boy has seen a few sunrises in his day. After all, he was originally a sundial.

Watch as the morning sun rises to greet Putter Boy, ending in a most perfect eclipse.

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The Padgett Family Legacy at Pinehurst

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Don Padgett II at Pinehurst


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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