Video: Pinehurst Stories – Fletcher Gaines: Great Caddie, Better Player

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.

“Ross used to hate it when someone broke par on No. 2. He always considered par to be an elusive animal and never wanted to see anybody shoot in the 60s.” -Fletcher Gaines

And were it not for Gaines’ steady hand in the mid-70s, who knows whether Strange’s game would’ve ever become so tailor made to win U.S. Opens.

“He was a great help,” Strange told author Lee Pace for Pinehurst Stories. “I really got to know No. 2 with Fletcher. Playing those greens requires a lot of local knowledge. Back then, I was just kind of booming it. I didn’t have much management or strategy on the golf course. I would hit it long and go chase it. Fletcher tried to condense that strength and manage me around. He did a great job. He read all my putts.”

Strange was easy work for Gaines, who even caddied for Donald Ross.

“Ross used to hate it when someone broke par on No. 2,” Gaines told Pace. “He always considered par to be an elusive animal and never wanted to see anybody shoot in the 60s.”

Gaines’ best advice carries on around Pinehurst.

“The secret to putting the greens on No. 2 is not to play as much break as you think and to remember that all putts under 6 feet will not break if hit firmly towards the cup.”

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