The East Lothian Junior Golf League from Scotland stands at the clubhouse before playing a match against Pinecrest High School on Pinehurst No. 2. Harry Rogan is second from right.
By Alex Podlogar
With the bronzed countenance of Donald Ross peering over his shoulder, Harry Rogan couldn’t help but have his stare drawn to the nearby 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2. Tall and broad well beyond his 17 years, Rogan would’ve towered over his countryman Ross. But it was the diminutive Scot’s legacy that loomed large instead.
“Those greens,” Rogan says in a trailing, wistful Scottish lilt native to his hometown of Haddington. A slight nod and a shake of the head brings him back a bit, his eyes, though, still radiant.
“It’s an extremely historical place,” Rogan says. “Being designed by Donald Ross, with U.S. Opens and a Ryder Cup having been here, and all the famous names who have played here, when I go home, whether I’ve played bad or good, it will have been a memorable experience because it’s Pinehurst.”
Rogan is a member of the East Lothian Junior Golf League, a group of 10 junior golfers who traveled from Scotland this month to play a variety of courses, several of them at Pinehurst. Their trip was capped with participation in a Winternationals Junior Series event, though earlier in the week, they played a friendly four-ball match on No. 2 with local high school Pinecrest, the three-time defending state champions who are ranked seventh in the nation.
It was there Rogan and his teammates were re-engaged with, and re-educated by, their countryman.
“If you’re on the green in one, you’re OK,” Rogan explains. “But if you peel off to the right or left, just a little bit, you’re off the green into a bunker or a roll-off, and you’re faced with a classic Donald Ross dilemma.
“You may think you’ve hit the right club, but if you’ve hit it high, and it spins back, there you go because the greens are so much more reactive.”
These are reflective moments for Rogan. A day has passed since he came off that 18th green, and still the shots stay with him. He ponders what happened out there – the bounces that strayed into the sandy wiregrass, the creativity he found forced to consider when only a few passing minutes before he might’ve thought nothing but full steam ahead with the driver in hand.
“You can stand on the tee, and think to yourself, ‘Well, it does look kind of simple.’ But, realistically, if you mess up just slightly, you are faced with the full effect of Donald Ross. Too hard, and you’re off the green. Too soft with it, and you’re facing something edgy for bogey.”
David Warren, the secretary of the East Lothian Junior Golf League, speaks to players before they play a match on Pinehurst No. 2.
The gregarious man who brought Rogan and his mates to Pinehurst stands idly by, wearing the cherubic grin of a man who knows. Few understand and feel the game like David Warren and his fellow Scots. He’s watching as Rogan works through his memory, mixing appreciation with some sort of soft-spoken awe. Were Warren to stand next to the Ross statue staring kindly back at the both of them, the similarities would be as striking as they are in contrast with the lad.
“Clearly, what struck us the most is the severity of these greens,” Warren says, building to a genial patter. “You can see why we kicked Donald Ross out of Scotland.”
And why, when Rogan, Warren and the others returned home, they had Pinehurst No. 2 to bring with them.