With McRae’s fellow caddies and family looking on, Carolinas Golf Association officials make announcement at Pinehurst No. 2
Willie McRae has caddied among the towering longleaf pines of Pinehurst for more than seven decades. On his 10th birthday, his father, also a caddie at Pinehurst, brought Willie to the golf course to work. It spawned a career few could ever hope to replicate.
On Thursday, the Carolinas Golf Association announced McRae, 83, will be enshrined in the CGA Hall of Fame in February. Joining McRae behind the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2 as fellow caddies and family members surrounded him, the CGA celebrated one of golf’s greatest careers.
“It’s a very proud moment for the Carolinas Golf Association to make this announcement at Pinehurst,” said G. Jackson Hughes Jr., the chairman of the CGA Hall of Fame selection committee. “Willie McRae has meant so much to so many people for so many years here at Pinehurst. It’s a well-deserved award.”
McRae’s legendary time at Pinehurst traces much of the area’s rise in the annals of American golf. He has caddied for five presidents, for celebrities from Mickey Mantle to Michael Jordan and many of golf’s greatest figures, including Donald Ross, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead.
“Willie McRae has meant so much to so many people for so many years here at Pinehurst. It’s a well-deserved award.” -G. Jackson Hughes Jr., CGA official
“I’ve always been thankful to be able to work at a place like Pinehurst,” McRae said. “Everybody’s always been so nice to me. They’ve always made me think I was the important person.”
McRae is one of just two living participants of the 1951 Ryder Cup, which was contested at Pinehurst. He has caddied in several of golf’s greatest championships, ranging from the Ryder Cup to multiple U.S. Opens and U.S Women’s Opens. A great player in his own time, in the 1950s the U.S. Army stationed McRae at Fort Dix instead of shipping him overseas, installing him instead as the captain of the golf team.
“Willie always says that everybody is somebody, that everyone has a right to be treated well,” said Pinehurst President Tom Pashley. “But what we all know is that Willie has always been one of the most important people at Pinehurst.
“It’s nice to know that with his enshrinement into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame, Willie’s picture will be on the Hall of Fame wall in The Carolina Hotel forever. To know that his family will always be able to walk by that photo and see how much Willie has meant to the game of golf is really special.”
McRae’s legacy continues at Pinehurst. McRae’s son, Paul, has been one of the leading instructors of the Pinehurst Golf Academy for more than 20 years, and his grandson, Darick, also caddies on No. 2. Willie McRae’s philosophy is the embodiment of the Pinehurst spirit: “To me,” McRae says, “everybody’s a celebrity. Everybody is special in their unique way.”
The Hall of Fame announcement was a wonderful moment for the McRae family, Darick said.
“It just shows the value of hard work and what it can do for you,” Darick said. “He’s 83 years old and has been caddying for 73 years, and today shows how that hard work pays off.
“It’s his inspiration that keeps me going. Now, I may not be doing it for 73 years, but today was awesome.”