Pinehurst Heritage Archive

Michael Campbell and the U.S. Open Trophy

A new clip reminds us why we love 2005 U.S. Open Champion Michael Campbell

By ALEX PODLOGAR

I stood there, baking in the sun and wondering just how I could possibly forget to put on sunscreen.

There were no trees near the practice range at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. And in the midday sun, with barely a cloud in the sky, not even the range grandstand could offer relief.

Stand, bake, sweat and burn. That’s all I could do.

And wonder.

The player I wanted to talk to was hard at work, certainly sweating more than me. And, even as I stood there with my amateur video camera – the one with the funny little squirrel microphone that Sir Nick Faldo had made fun of – and feeling very much out of place next to the network heavyweights, this guy was struggling more than I was.

A lot more.

… Continue Reading

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Pinehurst lauded by Golf Digest in America’s Top 100

Pinehurst No. 2 flag 15th hole

Just 24 golf courses have been included on every Golf Digest national ranking since its inception in 1966.

Pinehurst No. 2, host of the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, remains one of them. Golf Digest has revealed its biennial survey of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses, ranking Donald Ross’s famed No. 2 28th.

“In 2010, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw led a team that descended on Pinehurst No. 2 and killed out all the Bermudagrass rough that had been foolishly planted in the 1970s,” Golf Digest writes. “Between fairways and tree lines, they established vast bands of native hardpan sand dotted with clumps of wiregrass and scattered pine needles. They reduced the irrigation to mere single rows in fairways to prevent grass from ever returning to the new sandy wastelands. Playing firm and fast, it was a wildly successful fortnight when the 2014 Men’s and Women’s U.S. Opens were played on consecutive weeks at No. 2. Because of its water reduction, the course was recently awarded a Green Star environmental award by Golf Digest.”

Pinehurst Resort is home to three courses on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses. No. 2 is seventh while Pinehurst No. 4 is 59th and Pinehurst No. 8 is 80th.

Be wary of the three pot bunkers protecting back-left hole locations.

Pinehurst No. 4 12th Hole

On No. 4, Golf Digest writes: “Tom Fazio recently said that he felt his work at Pinehurst No. 4 was perhaps his best remodeling job to date. Confined by the existing corridors of the old layout, Fazio created an unusual complement to neighboring No. 2 Course by adding two new par 3 holes, styling the greens with slopes and run-offs, creating large expanses of native sand waste areas, and peppering the remaining landscape with 180 pot bunkers, most of them in clusters guarding doglegs and pin placements.”

Pinehurst no 8 14th 8623_KevinMurray (1280x853)

Pinehurst No. 8 14th Hole

And No. 8:Located not within the Pinehurst Resort complex but about a mile north, Pinehurst No. 8 is one of Tom Fazio’s most versatile designs, as each hole plays differently from the previous. The front nine is mostly tree-lined, the back more open, with both touching on ponds, marsh and Pine Valley-like sandy wastelands. For putting surfaces, Fazio built crowned greens with greenside swales, intended as a salute to Donald Ross and Pinehurst No. 2.”

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Words of wisdom from longtime caddie Willie McRae

Willie McRae Our State 2

Famous Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae appears in the January issue of Our State.

Willie McRae isn’t a know-it-all. 

But, the longtime caddie pretty much knows it all when it comes to Pinehurst No. 2.

How can it be? Time is the ultimate teacher and McRae has had plenty of time to learn. He’s been working at Pinehurst for more than 70 years.

McRae, a charter member of the Pinehurst Caddie Hall of Fame, has been a caddie since he turned 10 in 1943.

At 81, McRae imagines he’s the “oldest caddie in the world,” yet he shows no signs of slowing down.

Writer Tommy Tomlinson recently visited Pinehurst to glean some words of wisdom from the well-known greens reader. His story appears in the January issue of Our State. 

Willie McRae Our State

A sage piece of advice from Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae appears on the cover of the January issue of Our State.

Over the years, McRae has caddied for everybody from Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford to U.S. Open champion Justin Rose. He even carried bags for Donald Ross, the famous architect of Pinehurst No. 2, and Richard Tufts, the grandson of Pinehurst founder James Walker Tufts.

“Everybody’s famous. Everybody’s somebody,” McRae told Tomlinson. “I don’t try to classify one person over another.”

Here’s a look at some of the wisdom McRae shares in the article. Read the entire piece over at ourstate.com. 

“The first thing that you gotta do, you gotta be nice to people. If they say something you don’t like, let it go in this ear and out that ear.”

“Ain’t no use in throwing a club. The club ain’t done nothing to you. You’re the one who hit the ball.”

“I’m not too worried about the swing, as long as they get it back in the right channel. You got a lot of crazy-looking swings, but that ain’t got nothing to do with it, as long as you keep that arm stretched out.”

“I had some ladies on the 1st tee one time. One of them looked at me and said, ‘Willie?’ I said, ‘Ma’am?’ ‘What’s wrong with my game?’ I said, ‘Miss, I’m going to tell you. You’re too close to the ball after you hit it.’”

“As long as you feel good and in your right mind, you might as well go ahead and work. You’ll die when your time comes.”

I had [pro golfers] Justin Rose and [Hunter] Mahan just before the U.S. Open, and I taught them how to read the green. They asked me, “Willie, which way does the grain go?” I said, “The grain goes from east to west. The grass has got to be going toward the sun when it comes up. If it don’t, it’ll burn the root out. And if you notice, when they cut the cup in the morning, the east [edge] is rough. And the rest of the cup around there is sort of smooth. Most of it’s common sense.”

One of them said, “There ain’t no other caddies out here on the [PGA] tour that told me nothing like that.” I said, “Well, they don’t know. They can’t tell you what they don’t know.”

If you can’t be a drawing card — if people don’t want you the next day — you’re in bad shape.

Sometimes when I’m down and out, I like to sing.

Your grace and mercy
Brought me through
I’m living this moment
Because of You

That sounds pretty good, huh?

Want more? Check out this video of McRae and pal Eddie Mac discussing Pinehurst No. 2.

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Many reasons to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Pinehurst

Holly Inn Vintage

The Holly Inn opened Dec. 31, 1895. Located in the heart of the Village, the Four Diamond hotel features 82 guest rooms and suites each as unique as the hotel itself.

New Year’s Eve is of our favorite days of the year.

Why?

We’ve got two reasons – the Holly Inn and Carolina Hotel.

The Holly Inn opened to 20 guests on Dec. 31, 1895, launching the first New Year in Pinehurst history.

Guests paid $3 to spend the night at the modern facility, which had electric lights and steam heat. It included both billiard and card rooms. Each guest room was equipped with a call bell and the finest hair mattresses.

Pinehurst’s first hotel brought more visitors to the area, prompting the need for additional accommodations.

Construction of the Carolina Hotel got underway in 1898 and the Holly Inn expanded in 1899.

Vintage Carolina Hotel NEW

Construction of the Carolina Hotel began in 1898. The doors opened Jan. 1, 1901. The hotel now has 230 Four-Diamond guest rooms including suites.

The four-story Colonial Revival was the largest frame hotel in North Carolina with 250 guest rooms when it opened Jan. 1, 1901.

We’ve celebrated New Year’s Eve in style for more than a century. This year, guests will enjoy the music of the Band of Oz as they countdown to 2015. After the clock strikes twelve, they’ll have access to an overflowing midnight breakfast buffet fit for a king.

HEM2331.02 New Years Party at PCC 1947

Members celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Pinehurst Country Club in 1947.

 

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Players share fond memories of the Donald Ross Junior Championship

Florence Lads

The Long and Short Of It: John Hemmer took this photo at the 1952 Donald Ross Junior Championship. It features one of the tallest players, 6-foot-3 Walter Lawson, walking alongside one of the smallest, 8-year-old Larry Orr.

More than 200 high school boys will flock to Pinehurst this weekend to compete in the annual Donald Ross Junior Championship.

The event gets underway Saturday with practice rounds. Tournament play kicks off Sunday and the final round takes place Monday.

In the story below, past players share fond memories of the championship.

By Lee Pace

They came from all points on the compass — from Philadelphia in the north by train, from Richmond by car down U.S. Hwy. 1, from Florence to the south by bus.

Sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s Day every year since 1948 is the Donald Ross Junior Championship, a competition created to honor the memory of the famed architect of four of the original courses at Pinehurst. The tournament gives youngsters a chance to compete at the American mecca of golf.

“We understood what an honor it was to play at Pinehurst.” -Walter Lawson, played in the 1952 championship

“It was a fun trip, a golf pro and a bunch of 13-year-old kids hauling it along those two-lane roads,” says Lanny Wadkins, remembering his travels from Richmond. “It was some trip. We stayed at The Holly Inn, and I’m not sure it’s ever been the same since. Those are my earliest memories of Pinehurst. It was quite a place for a kid.”

David Eger came from Charlotte regularly as a teen and won the 1969 Ross Championship at the age of 17, and years later competed on No. 2 as a tour pro and then won the 1991 and 2000 North and South Amateurs after regaining his amateur status.

“I’ve always loved this place since I was a kid coming from Charlotte,” Eger says. “If you grow up in the Carolinas and play golf, Pinehurst is it.”

Jay Sigel would play college golf at Wake Forest, forge one of the top amateur resumes through the 1970s and ‘80s and then launch a blockbuster career on the Champions Tour in the 1990s.

Pinehurst was one of the places where he learned to take his “game on the road.” He was 15 in 1958 and rode the train from his home in Philadelphia two days after Christmas and landed in a tie for first place in the Ross Memorial.

“I made seven or eight birdies but only shot even-par,” Sigel says. “Four of us tied, and it got dark at four o’clock. There wasn’t any time for a playoff. So they cut cards. I picked the wrong card.”

And look at the faces on the boys from this 1952 photo of a group just having arrived from Florence for the Ross Championship. They are excited, maybe a little nervous. Many have never been so far from their home. Some carry only four or five clubs in tiny canvas bags. A couple have played only one round of golf before. Another is accomplished and confident enough that his name is embroidered on his bag.

Kids-Bus

A group of players arrive from Florence to compete in the 1952 Donald Ross Junior Championship.

“The Ross Memorial was a very prestigious tournament,” says Walter Lawson, second from the right among the two tall boys in the back row. “We were told about the Tufts family, about Donald Ross, that Pinehurst was the heart of American golf. You’d be surprised how much we knew about Pinehurst. We understood what an honor it was to play at Pinehurst.”

The tall gentleman on the back row, his head popping up between the words “DEE” and “COACH” on the bus, was the instigator and engineer of the annual excursion from Florence Country Club. His name was Grant Bennett, and to golfers in Florence in the mid-20th century, he was a father figure, mentor, babysitter and golf guru. His wife, Rozellen, is standing to Bennett’s left.

“Grant was a pied piper,” says John Orr, who was 12 years old at the time and standing third from the right on the front row. “We played golf seven days a week. When I started playing, my family was not a member. But he said, ‘Son, come on and play. I want junior golfers out here.’

“I saw more of him growing up than I did my parents. Grant put raising kids above making a living. He sacrificed his own family for everyone else’s family. He and Rozellen just loved the kids. Not only did he build golfers, he molded character.”

Jack Lewis, Randy Glover, Gordon “Buddy” Baker, Billy Womack and Kathy Hite were among the many talented young golfers to come out of Florence during the Bennett era. Bennett knew that the only way to groom competitive golfers was to have them compete, so the Pinehurst event was not only a fun outing for the juniors but a goal to practice toward and a chance to see how they could play out of town.

“I’ve always loved this place since I was a kid coming from Charlotte. If you grow up in the Carolinas and play golf, Pinehurst is it.” -David Eger, 1969 champion 

“One of the requirements Grant set down was that no one could go to Pinehurst if they hadn’t played a full 18-hole round,” says Larry Orr, John’s brother standing sixth from the left on the front row. “So I played my first 18-hole round shortly before the tournament so I could go. I don’t remember the score, but I’m not sure that I broke 200.”

That Pinehurst photographer John Hemmer was ready with his camera when the bus from Florence arrived at the club was no coincidence.

“Grant arranged that,” John Orr says. “He was a P.R. man, too.”

Hemmer also took a photograph of one of the tallest boys in the group, the 6-foot-3 Lawson, walking alongside one of the smallest, the 8-year-old Larry Orr. He distributed it through Pinehurst’s publicity network with the caption, “The Long and Short Of It.”

“I heard from people as far away as Chicago after the photo hit the wires,” Lawson says.

Bennett died in 2005 and was a member of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame and South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame. The Orr brothers both still live in Florence, as does Lawson. Baker lives in Pinehurst and is a member of the Country Club of North Carolina.

“I try to go up to Pinehurst twice a year,” says John Orr, a regular entrant in the North and South Senior Amateur. “It’s a place to die for.”

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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