Donald Ross believed golf was a beautiful metaphor for life. The great Bill Campbell explains.
Pinehurst Heritage Archive
Before he became the best golfer in the world and won back-to-back U.S. Opens, Curtis Strange was an NCAA star at Wake Forest. While there, he won back-to-back North and South Amateur Championships at Pinehurst No. 2 – with the legendary Fletcher Gaines on his bag.
Gaines, as you see in the video above, had a storied history at Pinehurst, and is a charter member of the Pinehurst Caddie Hall of Fame. Known for his quick wit and encyclopedic knowledge of the greens at Pinehurst, not only did Gaines dispense advice for such giants as Julius Boros and Tommy Armour, he was also a considerable player in his own right. Having won Pinehurst’s annual caddie tournament more than anyone else, the tournament now bears his name. Once, in the 1960s, Gaines played four straight rounds from the back tees of No. 2 and shot 71-71-72-71-285 – 3 under par.
On Friday, Feb. 7, in the shadow of the Payne Stewart memorial statue behind the 18th green of famed Pinehurst No. 2, the USGA announced the late Payne Stewart as the recipient of the 2014 Bob Jones Award, the organization’s highest honor.
Stewart memorably won the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst with a dramatic 15-foot par putt to clip a young Phil Mickelson by a single shot. Tragically, Stewart died in a plane crash just four months later.
Immediately as incoming USGA President Thomas J. O’Toole Jr. began to make the announcement, the nearby Village Chapel chimes began to ring, eerily similar to the moment they chimed as Stewart sized up his 77-yard pitch to the 18th green to set up the historic finish.
“Payne’s legacy continues to shine as an inspiration to players of all ages.” USGA President Thomas J. O’Toole Jr.
“Payne’s legacy continues to shine as an inspiration to players of all ages,” said O’Toole Jr.. “His spirit and gracious attitude left an indelible mark on everyone who surrounded him. His presence can still be felt by players who were fortunate enough to play with him and by the junior golfers that his Payne Stewart Foundation continues to support.”
“Payne’s larger-than-life personality made him one of the most likable players by peers and fans alike,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “Payne’s strength of character showed through clearly in victory and defeat, which he personally experienced in the U.S. Open. It is only fitting that we will make the presentation of this award to a two-time champion at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in June for players and fans to enjoy.”
BY LEE PACE
Golf history is full of memorable win streaks—Bobby Jones and the original “Grand Slam” in 1930, Byron Nelson and his 11 straight PGA Tour wins in 1945, and of course the “Tiger Slam” that Tiger Woods accomplished over the 2000-01 major championship seasons.
Not as well known, however, is the “Slam Bang.”
“She could sense that I was on edge, and she told me to relax. ‘I can beat any two of them without you,’ she said. ‘I’ll let you know if I need you.’” – Peggy Kirk Bell
That streak belongs to Babe Didrikson Zaharias, which she compiled in 1946-47 by winning 17 – 17! – consecutive golf competitions from Texas to Pinehurst, from Miami to the nation’s capital.
In fact, perhaps no source other than The Pinehurst Outlook referred to Zaharias’ unprecedented run of domination in such cutesy fashion. Run a Google search on the phrase in that context and you’ll come up dry.
But there it is in one of the Outlook’s weekly editions in early April 1947 as it chronicles the Babe “winning everything in sight on the winter and spring tour” and being “under unusual strain as she wanted to complete the most remarkable sequence of victories ever accomplished in women’s golf.”
Donald Ross believed in providing golfers with strategic choices, and Pinehurst No. 2 was intended to epitomize that philosophy. In March 2011, No. 2 reopened following a year-long restoration project designed to restore the course’s natural and historic character, and the strategic options that were the centerpiece of Ross’s vision. The $2.5 million project was conducted by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and included work on every hole. Features of the project include:
- Increase fairway widths Fairways were widened by as much as 50%, offering more strategic options in playing holes from tee to green.
- Removal of rough All rough was eliminated, establishing two heights of grass: greens and everything else.
- Reintroduction of natural areas 35 acres of irrigated turf were removed, restoring natural areas of sand, wire grass, pine straw and a variety of native grasses.
- Turf maintenance 650 irrigation heads were eliminated, and the centerline irrigation was restored.
- Wiregrass More than 200,000 plants were added
- Overseeding Eliminated during the winter months, allowing for firm, fast conditions throughout the year
- Increased length Thirteen new tees were added to the championship course, increasing the total championship length by more than 300 yards, to 7,565 from 7,214.
- Bunker modifications Several bunkers were restored, eliminated or reshaped based on aerial images of the course from the 1940s, and bunkers were edged to create rustic appearance
- Greens Only two (15 and 17) were modified slightly to increase hole locations.
- Cart paths Relocated and concrete removed.
Following are detailed, hole-by-hole modifications:
New tee: No
There are more options off the tee, and the removal of turf on the right, left and behind the green brings more natural areas into play. Specific changes include:
- Added mound to the right of the fairway, about 300 yards from the tee
- Created visual backdrop by adding a sandy wiregrass mound behind the green and left of the second tee
- Removed turf behind the green to bring sand, pine needles and wiregrass into play