Pinehurst Top 10 in 2017 – No. 2: Legendary Caddie Willie McRae Retires After 70-plus Years

Editor’s Note: As the year comes to a close, Pinehurst will reveal its Top 10 Stories from 2017. We’ll have one recap a day with links to the original stories if you would like to reflect more. We appreciate your engagement with each of these stories and several others from throughout the year, and we look forward to making more news in 2018.

And since we like numbers at Pinehurst, that’s exactly how we’ll count these down:

No. 10: Pinehurst No. 3 Brings It All Back – Charm, Strategy…and Wire Grass

No. 9: The Deuce is named Best New Restaurant in Golf

No. 8: Pinehurst Announces it will Open a Microbrewery

No. 7: U.S. Open Champion Calls North & South Runner-Up After Championship Match

No. 6: Isabella Fierro Makes History in Winning the Women’s North & South Amateur

No. 5: Teenagers win the U.S. Amateur Four –Ball

No. 4: Pinehurst Moves and Expands Putting Course Thistle Dhu

No. 3: Gil Hanse Begins Redesign of Pinehurst No. 4

No. 2: Legendary Caddie Willie McRae Retires After 70-plus Years

On May 19, 1943, Willie McRae turned 10, and his father asked him if he was ready to caddie at Pinehurst.

Seventy-four years later, McRae is still willing to caddie.

He’s just finally ready to slow down a little.

McRae, one of the last two remaining men alive to have participated in the 1951 Ryder Cup on Pinehurst No. 2, officially retired from day-to-day caddying at Pinehurst in October. McRae still plans to take special requests, but they will be limited.

“I love Pinehurst. Everybody has always been so good to me here,” McRae says. “This place has been my whole life.”

He began a legendary career that led to enshrinement into three different Halls of Fame on that spring day with his father, earning $1.75 a loop.

“I’d bring that $1.75 home to my mother, but I’d get 50 cents for a tip, and that would be mine,” McRae recalls. “I’d spend 25 cents of that on candy, and I’d have candy for the whole week.”

McRae’s career at Pinehurst parallels much of the great history of the game of golf. He has caddied for five presidents, celebrities from Mickey Mantle to Michael Jordan and many of golf’s greatest players, including Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead. Along with American player Jack Burke Jr., McRae is one of just two living participants of the 1951 Ryder Cup, and he remembers looping for Donald Ross on Ross’s crown jewel, No. 2.