October 25, 1999. We still miss you, Payne.
Don Potter stood in the middle of Pinehurst No. 2′s 18th fairway, 155 yards from the green. In the distance, he could see the iconic Payne Stewart statue. No one has played the 18th better in a bigger spot than Payne Stewart.
But Don Potter tried.
A heady wind facing him, Potter made his wisest decision of the day. “I listened to my caddie,” he said.
Just 155 away, Potter’s caddie told him to play it 170. Potter took the advice, pulled a 5 iron and set up for a punch shot as his approach.
Potter rifled the shot on a line Payne has seen few times in his time adjacent to the finishing green of one of the world’s most demanding courses. Potter knew it looked good.
Then he heard the roars.
Potter came to Pinehurst with his group S.T.A.G. – The Royal Society of Soon-to-Be-Ancient Golfers. Most of his group had finished its round, and awaiting the final pairings to come up the 18th, the group was watching the action from the Resort Club’s back veranda. They are the ones who saw Potter’s ball roll straight into the cup for an eagle 2.
“I only heard it,” said Potter, who hails from Chicago. “It was downright fantastic.”
Potter was given the flag from the pin as a keepsake for his eagle. It was a great cap to a trip in which S.T.A.G. donated $7,000 to the Carolinas Golf Association to promote junior golf.
Oh, and one more thing: On the tee, Potter needed eagle to break 80.
He got it.
Pinehurst Resort’s newest attraction, Thistle Dhu, continues to draw rave reviews from guests and members alike. At just about any time of day, one can find players enjoying themselves on a course like few have seen anywhere.
Now we offer you a look at the maturation of the course, which is playing firm and fast just a few months after ground was broken and the design of Coore and Crenshaw’s Toby Cobb and Dave Axland came brilliantly to life.
Kudos to the incredible staff at Pinehurst. It truly is amazing how quickly Thistle Dhu came together.
Pinehurst’s Maniac Hill practice range was full of golfers on Monday, enjoying their warmup in cool seasonal temperatures before they embarked on a memorable round at one of Pinehurst’s famed courses.
But in the middle of the range stood a man possessing dark sunglasses, striking white hair and a soft, soothing voice. In front of Joe McAuley were two of his grandsons, McAuley, 6, and Porter, 4.
And the three of of them were having the time of their lives.
Especially Grandpa, who gave perhaps the best piece of advice for everyone who introduces the game to kids. Check out the video’s final frame for that sage wisdom. We could all learn a thing or two from Joe and his grandsons.