Pinehurst News

Finding peace on Pinehurst No. 2

You may remember Andrew Smith from November after he competed – and won his Wounded Warrior flight – at the inaugural Veterans Golfers Association Championship at Pinehurst.

Recently, The Chattanooga Times Free Press caught up with Andrew to tell his story, and it is certainly worth your time. (The story was subsequently picked up by The Associated Press.) It was inspiring to read…



…And then we got to the end, and Andrew’s final anecdote and quote:

As he addressed the UTC men, someone asked Smith what kept him from being depressed and bitter. He recalled something that (his wife) Tori told him in the hospital.

“She said that the enemy — the Taliban — had wanted to kill me,” he said. “She said, ‘Don’t give them a victory over anything you’re going through.’ That really inspired me. So whenever times are tough I think about the enemy, if any of them are still alive, and I think how they’re living in mud huts and drinking dirty water while I’m playing Pinehurst No. 2.”


We at Pinehurst are truly humbled.

Play well – always – Andrew.

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Andrew Novak’s 100-foot putt – and his Pinehurst moment

Chances are you may have already seen Andrew Novak’s crazy 100-foot putt.

Perhaps, though, you might be thinking you’ve heard the name of the Wofford Terriers golfer before somwhere.

Maybe from Pinehurst and last year’s North & South Amateur, where Novak survived a 6-players-for-1-spot playoff that began on the 14th hole of Pinehurst No. 2 and finished on the 17th hole after Novak – you guessed it – drained a long birdie putt.

Novak, also, was a lot of fun to talk with after the manic playoff, which got him into the match play portion of the North & South. Here’s what we wrote about that day:


Andrew Novak putts during the third round of the 115th North & South Amateur on Pinehurst No. 2. Novak survived a wild playoff to advance as the final seed into the tournament’s match play. (Photo by Sarah Campbell)

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Andrew Novak didn’t mind knowing he had to make the putt for birdie on 18 to stay out of a playoff. Of course, he didn’t really have a choice, either.

“Oh, I was informed,” he said sardonically. “My lovely mother had told me.”

As if the day wasn’t rough enough, Novak, who had begun the final stroke play round of the 115th North & South Amateur on Pinehurst No. 2 alone in third place, had tumbled all the way down the leaderboard into a tie with five others for 16th.

“Oh, I was informed. My lovely mother had told me.” -Andrew Novak

The math of the moment, though, was simple. Make the birdie from about 12 feet in the shadow of Payne Stewart’s statue and advance to match play as the final seed. Miss, and that meant signing for an 8-over 78 and God knows what.

Novak missed.

“I knew if I made it, I was probably safe,” said Novak, who plays at Wofford. “And if I missed, that I’d probably be in a playoff. Of course, I didn’t know it was going to be that kind of playoff.”

“(I knew) if I missed, I’d probably be in a playoff. Of course, I didn’t know it was going to be that kind of playoff.” -Andrew Novak

As Pinehurst No. 2 once more lived up to its U.S. Open reputation – the course yielded just two scores under par in the 96-player field on Wednesday – no players outside of medalist George Cunningham and second-place Clark Engle could truly feel safe about advancing to one of the top 16 seeds when play began.

And many tumbled down as the round wore on, finally leaving six players to contend for the final seed available for match play.

Included were some of the week’s best players like Davis Love III’s son, Dru, Duke’s Adam Wood and Duke recruit Alex Smalley, both of whom started the day tied for 6th. J.D. Dornes had hung around the cut line most of the day and made the playoff, as did Lee Hodges, who fired a solid even-par 70 to move up from a tie for 34th.

They began on the 14th hole, and almost immediately the field was cut in half. Love missed the green long and right, his ball settling all the way at the bottom of the hill into the pinestraw behind the green, leading to a bogey. Wood and Dornes missed short putts for par while Novak, Hodges and Smalley made par to stay alive.

“The raking I was in, there in the bunker? Yeah, that was my work. So that actually worked out pretty well. I guess that was lucky because I truly had the exact same shot a couple hours earlier.” – Andrew Novak

All three made pars at the par-3 15th, with Hodges getting up and down from left of the green. On the 513-yard, par-4 16th, both Novak and Hodges made brilliant par saves from greenside bunkers as Smalley, who did not miss a fairway or green on any of the four playoff holes, missed a 12-footer for birdie.

“I got a little lucky on 16,” admitted Novak. “I was about two feet from where I was earlier during the third round. The raking I was in, there in the bunker? Yeah, that was my work. So that actually worked out pretty well. I guess that was lucky because I truly had the exact same shot a couple hours earlier.”

All three moved on to 17, where Novak was first to putt from about 30 feet. The putt looked good the entire way, and as it inched closer to the hole, Novak raised his putter and pumped his fist as the ball dropped into the cup for birdie.

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Why Pinehurst No. 2? No Water (in play)

Another reason to keep Pinehurst No. 2 on your bucket list?

Here’s a simple answer: Outside of a small pond not far in front of the 16th tee, there’s no water in play on Donald Ross’ famed course.

And as Tiger Woods showed at a media event for his upcoming tournament, water is no fun. Especially when you haven’t warmed up:

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“It’s one that I wish I could give back.”


Kelly Mitchum’s effort to raise awareness and money for Michael Townsend’s family during his play at the Wells Fargo Championship generated a great deal of attention. If you would still like to donate, you may do so by contributing to The Mike Townsend Memorial Fund, Kiawah Partners, 130 Gardeners Circle, PMB #136, Kiawah Island, SC 29455.

We at Pinehurst are proud of Mitchum’s initiative. While it’s wonderful to watch Kelly, a lead instructor at the Pinehurst Golf Academy, play in PGA Tour events, we agree with him that we wish it was Townsend there fulfilling his well-earned dream of competing in a Tour event.

It was an emotional week, for sure, which was captured beautifully in many of the stories about Kelly’s efforts.

From The Fayetteville Observer:

Mitchum’s spot in the event originally belonged to Mike Townsend, a former All-American at Methodist University and the head pro at the Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique Course in South Carolina. Townsend earned it when he won the Carolinas PGA Section Professional Championship in July. But less than two weeks after his win he was killed in a car accident, leaving behind a wife and two children.

“It was just an incredible tragedy,” Mitchum said. “I just can’t imagine what they’ve had to go through.”

From WTVD:


When PGA Professional Kelly Mitchum prepares to tee off in Thursday’s first round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club, he’ll hear his name announced — but he’ll have Mike Townsend in his thoughts.

“This is going to be a different event for me,” Mitchum said. “It’s one that I wish I could give back. I’ve already tried to kind of imagine what the first tee shot’s going to be like. I’ll definitely have thoughts of Mike there. It really has been very tragic, and we’re trying to honor him in the best way we can. But it’s kind of hard to put into words.

“Mike was a great guy, so personable. I played with him a fair number of times and he was just one of those guys who was easy to talk to, always friendly, always had a smile on his face. Just a good, fun guy to be around. And obviously a fantastic player on top of that. It was one of those kind of sitatuions where you can’t believe when you heard the news of what happened.”

From WRAL:


This week was different, though. The black ribbon on his cap said it all.

Mitchum had been friends with Townsend for more than a decade. The first time the two played golf together was at the Carolinas PGA Assistants Championship, and Mitchum came out on the short end of the stick.

“So I didn’t like him at first,” he said, clearly joking by the broad grin on his face. “No, Mike was a great guy. Fun to be around. Always smiling. Always in a good mood. He’s very much missed.”

From Golfweek:

“I went back quite a ways with Mike,” Mitchum said. “He was about 13 years younger than I, and when he first got into the section, I played with him early on in the (Carolinas) Assistants Championship. He beat me – I’ll fess up. It came down to the last hole, and he won, and that was my first experience with Mike.

“I knew him from then on, and he was just a super guy. Very personable, very friendly, easy to talk to. He was a good guy for our section – we want guys like that. He was supposed to play here this week. I shouldn’t be here. I can’t imagine what that first tee shot is going to be like.”

Finally, also from WTVD:



Michael Townsend is pictured with his family (l-r), son Spencer, wife Katherine and daughter Ana Kate.

My dad is the one who told me about the beautiful tribute Kelly had planned for Michael. I was completely and totally shocked. It’s been almost nine months since he passed; I can’t help but mark the months because he died on Ana Kate’s first birthday. Everyday I see the world around me continue to move forward, especially with the kids. Each day that passes I see their memories of their father quickly fade. They’ll never know the amazing man that I was so fortunate enough to spend 16 years of my life with. They do have his love for the game of golf and I hope that brings them some sort of connection and comfort in the years to come.

What Kelly is doing means more to me than any dollar amount he raises. He’s showing the world, the golf community, and most importantly my children that the game of golf is about honor and respect. It’s about banding together to support one of their own on and off the course in their time of need. While the kids’ memories of Michael are all but gone, Kelly is showing us that Michael’s spirit will forever live on in the game that he loved. Kelly is a true gentleman and a great role model. Michael was lucky to have him as a competitor and more importantly, a friend. I cannot thank Kelly and the members of the PGA enough for all that they have done for us. I wish that I could be there to cheer him on but I hope he knows I’ll be cheering from the set. I wish him the absolute best of luck and I know Michael would be so incredibly proud of what he’s doing. My heart aches because this was Michael’s dream and he was never able to see it come true, but I still can’t help but be over the moon Kelly has this opportunity.


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Tiger Woods’ 16th hole chip-in…with Legos

In your life have you seen anything like that? #TigerWoods #VerneLundquist #PGA

A video posted by Jared Jacobs (@goldyeller) on

We first caught this at Geoff Shackelford’s site and just had to share it as well.

If your kid is into Legos, golf, or just one or the other, show him or her this. Maybe it sparks a new obsession.

Also, to @goldyeller, any chance we could get a Payne in 1999 one of these?

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