Padgett III returns to his “second home” for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball
By ALEX PODLOGAR
Don Padgett Sr., the director of golf at Pinehurst from 1987-2002, one day took his grandson to Pinehurst’s famed practice tee, dubbed Maniac Hill, and told him to imagine every great golfer the game has known—from Hagen to Hogan, from Palmer to Nicklaus to Stewart to Woods — and know they all hit balls onto that vast expanse.
“If you can’t get excited over that, maybe you should take up tennis,” Padgett later said.
Donald Padgett III got the message.
“Every time I think about Pinehurst, I think about my grandfather.” -Don Padgett III
An accomplished golfer who over the last two decades has competed among the highest levels of the amateur game, Padgett III returns to Pinehurst to play in his fourth USGA event – the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Padgett III and his partner Dan Belden shot a 2-over 72 on Pinehurst No. 2 in the first round on Saturday.
Few competitors in the field will have as much experience on Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 8 as Padgett III, who has visited Pinehurst countless times in the years since Padgett Sr. was the director of golf and Padgett III’s father, Don Padgett II, served as president of the resort from 2004-14.
“It’s always a privilege to qualify for a USGA event, and to have it at Pinehurst, which I consider as a second home since I was 12 years old, makes it that much extra special,” Padgett III says.
Padgett III has forged his own path professionally in golf as well, serving as the executive director of the World Golf Championship’s Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club. But his amateur credentials are equally impressive, particularly at Pinehurst. Padgett III, 42, played in the North & South Junior from ages 12-18, and then competed in the prestigious North & South Amateur – the longest consecutively running amateur championship in the United States – from ages 19-33. In 1997, he survived a dramatic eight-hole playoff to win medalist honors at the North & South, which has been played at Pinehurst every year since 1901.
It was a proud moment for the family, and still remains one of Padgett III’s greatest memories in golf.
“It was special to get the Putter Boy trophy, and I have it in a place I can look at it every day,” Padgett III says. “But even more special is that my grandfather gave it to me that day. And I have that picture of him presenting the Putter Boy to me and shaking my hand.”
Padgett III and Belden fired a 66 over two days in a rain-delayed qualifier to earn entry into the Four-Ball. After an uninspired front nine was interrupted by a lengthy rain delay, the pair went for broke and it paid off. As darkness delayed play again – this time overnight – the duo had made five more birdies and needed a par at the last to punch its ticket.
They got it.
And now, Padgett III will return to his second home to compete again, only this time it’s not a Nassau with his dad or memories of practices balls on the range with his grandfather.
“Every time I think about Pinehurst, I think about my grandfather,” Padgett III says. “Whenever I’m there, I go to the Learning Center, named for him, and I read his plaque and I go into the main clubhouse and look through his case again. Not only did he do such great work at Pinehurst to bring the resort back to national prominence, he was also just a great guy. I will always miss him, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be looking down and smiling as I tee off.”