Charlie Spain looked fondly on this portrait of himself from a 2012 magazine spread about Pinehurst’s caddies, sharing it several times over the years on his Facebook page. We at Pinehurst are saddened to learn of Charlie’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
In 2017, we were terribly saddened to hear the news of the passing of veteran caddie Charlie Spain, who caddied at Pinehurst for more than two decades. He was 60.
Spain, who also caddied for several years at such notable places as Whistling Straits, garnered attention over the last couple of years as the inventor of the popular new putting grip, the Flat Cat. Released in March 2016, Olympic and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose has been using the grip, which was designed to help a player feel more square to the ball when putting.
The grip, with flat sides all around, allowed the golfer to have the feeling of being square to the ball in the palm of his or her hand. Spain noted: “When you can actually feel what square feels like, you’re gonna sink more putts. It’s that simple.”
While he enjoyed the growing popularity of the Flat Cat, Spain will most be remembered by his closest friends as a kind and gentle soul.
“Charlie was an original at Pinehurst, from the old school,” says former Pinehurst Golf Professional Jeff Crabbe. “He mentored so many of the current caddies, all working hard to live up to his example.
“Charlie was one of a couple caddies I would use when I got to play Pinehurst No. 2 because I enjoyed being with him, not for his knowledge of the course – which he knew like the back of his hand – but for our friendship. The caddie program at Pinehurst has lost a legend, Pinehurst Resort lost a person who has made thousands of guests enjoy their round on No. 2, and so many of us lost a friend. Old Charlie was a good soul, called off the grass too soon.”
Todd Camplin, a former Pinehurst golf professional who tabbed Spain to be his caddie when Camplin qualified for the PGA Championship, says he always leaned on Spain.
“Charlie and I first met in 2000 after I quit playing golf for a living and obtained a job as a caddie,” Camplin says. “He and I hit it off quickly as we both enjoyed playing the game in the afternoons/late evenings following work. We played numerous rounds together then and through the years.
“Charlie caddied for me in two of the three PGA Tour events I played in, including the 2011 PGA Championship, as well as the only Web.com event I played. My brother caddied for me in the other PGA Tour event I played in, so you can see what kind of company I held Charlie in. He was also on the bag for each of my five starts in the PGA National Championship, most recently in 2016 at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY.
“We shared a lot of times together through the years and these events and both were always talking about our next venture together. He would always say to me, ‘Hey Pro, when we going back to the Show?’ I can hear him this very moment saying it to me in his raspy voice that is so recognizable.
“Charlie loved people and loved caddying. He will be missed by many, especially this guy, his pro.”
Fellow Pinehurst caddie Mark Tinnen remembers Spain as a mentor.
“He took me under his wing when I first started caddying at Pinehurst, and never left my side,” Tinnen says. “We became inseparable. We caddied all the time and played just as much golf together. I’ll always remember him as a fierce competitor, but also as a dear, dear friend.”
Spain passed away in Kohler, Wisconsin. He is survived by his wife and son.