The great Arnold Palmer turned 85 this week. We take a moment to reflect on The King’s grand legacy at The Cradle of American Golf
BY LEE PACE
Doris Palmer was fraught with anxiety. It was the 1954 U.S. Amateur at the Country Club of Detroit, and her 25-year-old-son, Arnold, was about to make a serious mistake. She approached Richard Tufts, the president of Pinehurst Inc. and USGA secretary, with her concerns.
“Oh, Mr. Tufts, I’m worried to death,” Mrs. Palmer said. “I’m afraid Arnold’s going to turn pro after this.”
“With that swing of his, he’ll never make it on tour.” Richard Tufts
Tufts’ primary frame of reference for young Palmer’s golf ability was the North and South Amateur, the tournament the Tufts family ran each spring on Pinehurst No. 2. Palmer never played particularly well in that event, losing by a monster score like 12-and-11 to Frank Stranahan in 1949.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Mrs. Palmer,” Tufts replied. “With that swing of his, he’ll never make it on tour.”
Palmer won the Amateur that week, did in fact turn professional and proceeded to make hash of his critics. Palmer and Tufts were reunited 14 years later in Charlotte, when Palmer spoke on Tufts’ behalf at the latter’s induction ceremony into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. They shared a laugh over Tufts’ gaffe.
Pinehurst No. 2 is the fourth of Pinehurst’s nine courses to have the heat-tolerant bermudagrass installed on its greens. Pinehurst No. 1 was successfully converted to Bermuda in 2012 and Pinehurst No. 3 and No. 8 were converted in 2013. In addition, Thistle Dhu, the popular new putting course installed in 2013, features ultradwarf bermudagrass.
“Golfers have truly embraced the restoration of Pinehurst No. 2, and the greens conversion will allow our members and guests to experience and enjoy peak conditions for even longer portions of the year, regardless of weather,” said Pinehurst President Don Padgett II.
(The above video is a look at the recovery of Pinehurst No. 2 following the back-to-back U.S. Opens – all done in 3 minutes. Sure, perhaps this is essentially watching grass grow, but note the sunrises, the storms, the blue skies and the ever-rolling clouds.)
Pinehurst installed Champion ultradwarf bermudagrass on June 30, following the successful back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships. This strain of Berrmuda has been used with great success throughout the southeast and on more than 500 courses across 16 states. The durable strain maintains high density during extreme temperatures and at low mowing heights, delivering smooth, consistent putting surfaces throughout the year. The ultradwarf variety provides top-quality conditions on an everyday basis and allows fine-tuning for elite championship conditions when needed.