Escaping a bout of freezing rain, Connor Haviland sat bundled up in a golf cart beside his father, Bob.
His hands stiff from the cold, the 17-year-old boy didn’t hesitate to suggest making the milestone golf trip to Pinehurst a permanent family tradition.
“He said, ‘You know what dad? I would really like to carry on the tradition by bringing my son here when he is junior in high school,'” Bob said. “That’s when I knew that the trip had been a success and that my son was now a loyal Pinehurst fan for life just his father and his grandfather.
“I told him that the only thing that could make it better would be if I was still around to come back with he and his son when the time came.”
Bob traveled to Pinehurst with his father for the first time during his junior year of high school. It wasn’t just his first golf getaway, but his first time on an airplane and his first time playing with a caddie.
“The whole experience was full of firsts for me,” he said.
When Connor took up golf, Bob decided to plan a trip with his son. As Connor’s junior year got underway, they started deciding where to go.
“My wife said ‘Why don’t you go to Miami or Puerto Rico,’ but I didn’t want to go to any old place and play any old golf course,” Bob said. “I wanted to play a world class golf course. I wanted to go to the most special golf course in my heart.”
That course was Pinehurst No. 2.
The Havilands enjoyed blue skies and sunshine when they played Pinehurst No. 8 during their first day in town. It was a bit colder when they took on Pinehurst No. 2 the next day, but nothing they couldn’t handle.
“The course was tremendous as always and the caddies could not have been better,” Bob said.
By Sunday, Mother Nature made it clear winter wasn’t quite over and temperatures plummeted. The father-son due toughed it out for a while before deciding to head home a tad early.
On the way back to the clubhouse from Pinehurst No. 3, Connor told his father he’d like to bring his son to Pinehurst during his junior year of high school.
“The weather wasn’t great that day, but that warmed my heart,” Bob said.
First trip to Pinehurst
Bob visited Pinehurst for first time in 1980 after his father had traveled here for business.
“It was a real treat to go to a place that’s so beautiful,” he said. “The weather was spectacular, the food was spectacular.”
Bob said he spent weeks telling Connor about the Carolina Hotel’s famous breakfast buffet before their visit.
“That is something I remember,” Bob said. “Growing up, we had never seen a breakfast buffet.”
Connor was taken by the Southern hospitality during his first time here at the end of February.
“Everyone was very, very nice at the hotel and all the courses,” he said. “It was a really enjoyable trip.”
Playing Pinehurst No. 2 with a caddie
Before coming to Pinehurst, Bob had never played golf with a caddie.
“That was a real treat,” Bob said. “I spent my entire youth at a golf course in New Jersey working as a caddie.”
Connor, who also works as a caddie during the summer, had played with a caddie before, but he still basked in the experience.
“My caddie, Josh, was really cool,” he said. “He was very helpful on the greens. If I had gone out by myself it would be been impossible.”
Bob said having been a caddie makes him more appreciative of their advice.
“Always do what the caddie says, never make up your own mind,” he said.
Soaking in the history
When Connor found out he would be traveling to Pinehurst, he knew exactly what he wanted to wear when he played No. 2.
It had to be knickers, a homage to the 1999 U.S. Open winner Payne Stewart.
“I planned it out for weeks,” he said.
Bob said his son pulled it off well.
“He was stylin’ hard with the knickers on,” he said. While playing No. 2, Connor thought about the players who had competed in the U.S. Open there less than a year before.
“I was amazed by how long the course was and how good these players had to be to post numbers like they did,” he said.
Bob got caught up in the history of the resort while roaming the hallways of the clubhouse and hotel. The legends he read about stayed with him as he played Pinehurst No. 2.
“It was a privilege and kind of a humbling experience,” he said. “It’s like walking in history and being part of it.”