After 73 years spent caddying on Pinehurst No. 2, Willie McRae is rarely wrong about golf.
But at the first tee on a brisk November morning in 1951, an 18-year-old Willie McRae made the wrong read.
“I don’t get it,” McRae recalls saying in his memoir, On the Bag. “Not only is he itty-bitty, but he damn near died in that car accident a couple of years ago. How they think he’s gonna be able to get the job done?”
Willie McRae, at far left, caddied in Ben Hogan’s group during the 1951 Ryder at Pinehurst No. 2. (Photo Courtesy of the Tufts Archives – May not be used without permission)
“He got up on the first hole and said, ‘Have a nice round. When he finished, he said, ‘Have a nice day.’ He shot 32-34. I said, ‘Yeah, he can play.'” -Willie McRae on Ben Hogan
But McRae, who’s trusted his eyes on No. 2 for seven decades, couldn’t see how the diminutive Hogan could possibly still compete with the world’s best players on the terribly difficult No. 2, which was playing to 7,007 yards for the 1951 Ryder Cup.
It didn’t take long for McRae to change his mind.
“He got up on the first hole and said, ‘Have a nice round,'” McRae told ESPN of that first Ryder Cup round. “When he finished, he said, ‘Have a nice day.’ He shot 32-34.
“I said, ‘Yeah, he can play.'”
Looking back 65 years later, McRae believes Hogan’s Ryder Cup 66 may have been the best round he’s ever seen on Pinehurst No. 2.
“I couldn’t stop raving about that itty-bitty fellow at home that night,” McRae writes.
As you can see, Tommy is without much of his right arm, but that hasn’t slowed him…AT ALL. He’s impressed golfers of all ages, including meeting and playing with many of the game’s greats, from Tiger Woods to Arnold Palmer, from Phil Mickelson to Gary Player, to Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson.
And Tommy did not disappoint. One of the fun things he and his father like to do is to mimic great players’ golf swings. In the video above, you’ll see Tommy’s takes on the swings of Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Fowler, and yes, even Mickelson’s. You don’t want to miss this, and you especially don’t want to miss his last impersonation.
In between those mighty cuts, you’ll see what golf truly is for Tommy and his dad – pure fun. And that’s the best golf tip of all.
As a second-grader Gary Brown knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up – a piano player.
While most kids dream of being an astronaut or President of the United States, Gary’s idol was closer to home. He wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.
Robert Murphy delighted guests in the Carolina Dining Room with his music for three decades before being diagnosed with cancer. He passed away in 2012, but his memory lives on thanks to his family.
You see, Gary isn’t the only member of the Murphy family who plays at Pinehurst. His uncle, Paul Murphy, has been known to take on dinner shifts when he’s not busy at his church.
Gary was just a freshman at Pinecrest High School when he started playing at the Carolina, but piano wasn’t his primary instrument. Instead, he played the drums as part of a trio featuring the Murphy family.
I’ve been playing here for almost 13 years now and it seems like I just started yesterday,” Gary said. “There’s never a dull moment and I love what I do. When I come here, I don’t feel like it’s work at all.”
It didn’t take long for him to graduate to the piano. After all, he’s been playing as long as he’s been walking.
“The piano just drew me near,” he said. “Every time I was around it, I would go and play.”
Gary took piano lessons, but his grandfather helped him hone his skills.
It was Robert Murphy who introduced him to musicians like Beethoven, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. He also instilled in Gary the value of hard work.
“My grandfather always taught me about providing a service and being able to do your best, have integrity and letting your work speak for itself,” he said. “I’ve always tried to carry that on.”
When Gary isn’t playing in the Carolina Dining Room, he’s busy tuning and cleaning pianos, skills he learned from his grandfather. His lessons got underway in 2006 when he was just a junior in high school.
“He was grooming me to take over the family business,” Gary said.
Gary plans to pass his love of music on to his son, Gary Jr., and daughter, Kaelyn.
“My son cries for the keyboard,” Gary said. “I bought him a baby recliner, and when I put the keyboard in front of him, he just plays and plays.”
Kaelyn, who is 5 years old, is more interested in vocal music.
“She’s has an absolutely beautiful voice,” Gary said.
A sponsor of Jason Day – RBC – has released a mini-documentary about Day’s life, and if you’ve marveled at Day’s play over the last two months and still haven’t heard his backstory, this is 10 minutes definitely worth your time.
It also reminds us of a 2012 interview we did with Jason when he visited Pinehurst as part of an outing with Lexus. It came minutes after Day’s first look at Pinehurst No. 2 (and a few weeks before the Ryder Cup, of which Jason made a prediction).
Looking back, it almost feels like we talked to Jason Day before he became JASON DAY.
Day treated the people at Pinehurst beautifully that morning and afternoon and was sincerely kind at every turn. We’ve been fans of him ever since. And after you watch the above documentary, you may become a fan for life as well.