For as long as there has been golf at Pinehurst, there has been a thriving caddie program. Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, in conjunction with CADDIEMASTER®, is honored to announce the second class to be enshrined into the Pinehurst Caddie Hall of Fame.
(Black and white portraits are by photographer Tim Sayer.)">The 2nd class of the Pinehurst Caddie Hall of Fame: Jesse Jones (left), Charlie Spain (top center), John Ross (top right), Thomas Trinchitella (left center), Bobby Hill (right center), Jimmy Smith (left lower) and Bob Scheirer (bottom right). (Black and white portraits are by photographer Tim Sayer.)
In a ceremony on Dec. 5 in the Pinehurst Resort Clubhouse, seven new members were inducted, celebrating the careers of Jesse Jones, Charlie Spain, John Ross, Bobby Hill, Robert Scheirer, Thomas Trinchitella and caddiemaster Jimmy Smith. They will join the inaugural class from 2001, which included, among others, such Pinehurst legends as Jimmy Steed, Fletcher Gaines and Willie McRae.
Over the last century and more, Pinehurst’s caddies have witnessed some of the greatest achievements and moments in all levels of golf. They have walked with the very best players ever to play the game, and they have been by the sides of the many guests and members who make this such a special place every day of the year.
The new class includes four caddies currently working the grass at Pinehurst. Ross has been caddying at Pinehurst since 1954, a staggering 64 years. No caddie currently at Pinehurst has worked longer. Scheirer won the 2008 U.S. Amateur on the bag for Danny Lee, who at the time was the youngest to win the Amateur. Scheirer has also helped two players to North & South Amateur titles. Trinchitella has trained more than 80 percent of the caddies who have come through Pinehurst since 2001, and regularly travels the country training more. Bobby Hill has been at Pinehurst since 1984 and is considered one of the best greens-readers in Pinehurst history.
Francis “Jesse” Jones was soft-spoken, but was considered a giant among the caddies of Pinehurst, with few understanding the subtleties of No. 2 better. Jones passed away in 2015. Spain was considered another gentle soul who caddied at Pinehurst for decades. Not long before his untimely passing in 2017, Spain had invented the “Flat Cat” putting grip, which is used by several PGA Tour professionals today.
Smith came to Pinehurst as a caddie in 1998, quickly ascending to caddiemaster in 2000. A former golf professional, Smith becomes the second caddiemaster to be enshrined into the Pinehurst Caddie Hall of Fame, joining Jack Williams, who at the height of the Pinehurst caddie program would oversee as many as 500 caddies a day.
n 1943, when he was brought to caddie at Pinehurst for the first time on his 10th birthday, Willie McRae got a few words of advice from his father, also a caddie.
Seven words, to be precise.
“Show up, keep up and shut up.”
Today, the old caddie’s mantra is to be applied only among the most stoic of clients. At the ceremony Wednesday night to induct the second class of caddies into the Pinehurst Caddie Hall of Fame, the effusive praise of each inductee’s presenter illustrated a vastly different experience in these relationships forged on the grass – recollections that included joy, laughter, and, in a couple of quiet reflective moments, a few tears.
But the caddies themselves? As usual, they seemed content to let their golfer do the talking, even on their biggest night. And so while the great McRae’s presence was certainly felt – the ceremony opened with a moment of silence to remember the genial looper who died in October – his father’s advice did in fact make its way from the caddyshack all those years ago to the St Andrews Room of the historic clubhouse.
The new hall-of-famers showed up.
When their names were called, they kept up.
But when their presenters finally shut up, each honoree quietly exited the stage and away from the glaring spotlight – as if they were simply walking off the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2 at dusk.
Leave it to the quietest of them all, John Ross, who has been caddying at Pinehurst for 64 years, the longest tenure of any caddie currently at Pinehurst, to set what became the preferred tone for all of the evening’s inductees.
“Thank y’all, ladies and gentlemen,” Ross said, barely above a whisper. “Thank y’all for the opportunity to be here.”
And with that, Ross turned and shuffled off the stage. The audience, though, many of them Ross’s fellow caddies, greeted his 4-second address with thunderous applause.
What more needed to be said?
A lot, it turned out.
If the caddies themselves were going to remain quiet and humble, the stories were still going to be told for them.
“As you can see,” said Ross’s presenter Les Miller, “John is a man of few words, like, ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ I did once get him to say, ‘Maybe, but I don’t think so.’”
Ross was joined in the second class by fellow caddies Bobby Hill, Bob Scheirer, Thomas Trinchitella and Caddiemaster Jimmy Smith. Caddies Jesse Jones and Charlie Spain were inducted posthumously.
A member of the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2001, Jimmy Steed won three North & South Opens as Sam Snead’s caddie in the 1930s and 1940s. Steed died in 1985, and his family was unable to be located for the first ceremony in Pinehurst 17 years ago. On Wednesday, Steed’s niece Connie West was on hand to celebrate Steed’s career.
“(Steed) was the best caddie I ever had,” Snead said in 1994.
There were more stories.
Todd Camplin, a former Pinehurst golf professional who had Spain on his bag during the 2011 PGA Championship, told of one harrowing moment he and Spain – who was missing two fingers on his right hand – shared on one of golf’s biggest stages.
“I had hit a great shot into a long par-3 that was bordered by water, and I’m puffing my chest out a little bit as we’re walking to the green, though both of us knew all the double bogeys would be coming later,” Camplin said. “Feeling pretty good about myself, I walked up to mark my ball and went to toss it, all in one motion, to Charlie. All of a sudden, I see him lunge for it. It’s headed straight for the water, which, if you don’t know, would’ve been the most embarrassing penalty for replacing a ball. Somehow, Charlie got in front of it.
“Back on the green, I asked him, ‘Hey, what happened there?’ And right there, on the 13th green of the PGA Championship, Charlie says, ‘Pro, ya know ya can’t feed The Claw. Ya gotta throw it to my good hand!’”
There were poignant moments, too. Former Pinehurst President Donald Padgett II presented for his longtime caddie Trinchitella.
“Anytime we ever had a special person, for whatever reason, who needed a caddie, I always said, ‘I have just the guy – Thomas,’” Padgett said. “When Tiger was here? Thomas. Rory? Thomas. Keegan? Thomas. The President of the United States? Thomas.
“I can say I’ve had three of the best caddies ever here at Pinehurst. One was Fletcher Gaines. Another was Willie McRae.
“But the one man I knew I was going to play my best with? Thomas. Just like Fletcher, just like Willie, when you only need to know the one name, you know he’s special. That’s Thomas.”
Former Pinehurst Golf Professional Jeff Crabbe presented for Jones, effectively summing up the evening with one particular memory.
“Jesse was a kind and gentle soul,” Crabbe said. “He never wanted the limelight. He never wanted his picture taken. He just wanted to go out on the golf course and do a great job.”
“These are not merely caddies,” Padgett said. “These are ambassadors for Pinehurst. They are the best ambassadors for Pinehurst. And they are part of the fabric of the place.”