Golfweek has named retired Pinehurst President Don Padgett II its Father of the Year, an honor previously awarded to Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper and Peter Compton.
Padgett, who served as president and chief operation officer of Pinehurst from 2004 to 2014, led the yearlong restoration of Pinehurst No. 2 in 2010. Conducted by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the project restored the course’s natural and historic character.
Coore and Crenshaw removed some 40 acres of grass to re-expose the natural hardpan sand and unkempt look the course’s designer, Donald Ross, so embraced in the early 1900s.
Padgett’s father, Don Padgett Sr., served as Pinehurst’s director of golf from 1987 to 2002. He is credited by then-CEO and President Pat Corso as being the “insider” in the world of golf who opened doors and lent credence to Pinehurst’s drive in the late 1980s and early 1990s to land a major golf championship for No. 2.
Padgett II came to Pinehurst to replace Corso in 2004 after a successful tenure as director of golf and general manager at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. His experiences on the PGA Tour in the 1970s (he shot a 66 in the 1977 U.S. Open) gave him a unique perspective on the nuances of the Pinehurst golf experience.
After the 2005 U.S. Open, Padgett came to the gradual realization No. 2 had become too homogenized with its svelte green sheen and a maintenance protocol that had course workers only half-jokingly say they’d catch fallen pine cones “on the first bounce” rather than let it reflect its natural ambiance that reminded Ross of his native Scotland.
“His leadership on the No. 2 restoration was remarkable,” said Jay Biggs, the club’s senior vice president for golf and club operations. “I’ve thought about it often: ‘If I were in his shoes, would I have had the courage to pull that trigger?’
“He had the idea and the vision to go to Mr. Dedman at a time when the economy was poor, the golf business was suffering. It was a big gamble. But it paid off and Pinehurst is better off for it.”
Padgett remains active around the resort with the title of Executive Emeritus. His office moved from the executive suite on the second floor of the resort clubhouse to a smaller office on the first floor — one that coincidentally his father occupied two decades before.
I can feel my dad’s spirit in here,” Padgett said. “It’s kind of like coming full circle.”
Read more about the Padgett family legacy at Pinehurst by clicking here.