Pinehurst boasts caddies as great as the players who've walked its fairways

Pinehurst.com
By
Bill Kirby Jr.
The Fayetteville Observer

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Sunday, December 02, 2018 | 11:36 a.m.
PINEHURST -- The thought of golf at this renown golf Mecca, and you can't help but recall legends like Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Payne Stewart, Phil Mickleson and Tiger Woods.
 
They are among the champions who have mastered the game along these plush fairways, most notably at the Pinehurst No. 2 course, home of such events to include the U.S. Open men's championship in 2014, 2005 and 1999, the U.S. Women's Open in 2014 and the World Golf Hall of Fame Classic from 1973 to 1982.
 
But let us not forget the caddies, who have come to know every blade of grass on the putting greens and precise yardages along the fairways.
 
"It's a big night for them," says Pat Corso, who in 2001 as president and chief executive officer of Pinehurst Resort & Country Club founded the Pinehurst Caddie Hall of Fame along with Don Padgett, the golf director, and Mike Granuzzo, owner of Caddiemaster Inc., and installed the first class of 10 to include Jimmy Steed, Fletcher Gaines and Willie McRae. "Maybe the biggest night some of them will ever have."
 
Seven more caddies are scheduled for induction at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5 in the St. Andrews Room at the club.
 
The inductees-elect are John Ross, Francis "Jesse" Jones, Charlie Spain, Bobby Hill, Robert Scheirer, Thomas Trinchitella and caddiemaster Jimmy Smith.
 
"Over the last century and more, Pinehurst's caddies have witnessed some of the greatest achievements and moments in all levels of golf," according to a news release from Pinehurst Resort & Country Club. "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."
 
You can't say it much better.
 
Ross has been caddying at Pinehurst since 1954, according to release, and no caddie has worked longer at the club's eight courses. Jones, who died in 2015, is considered a giant among club caddies and was said to to know the subtleties of Pinehurst No. 2 better than any who carried a golf bag. Spain caddied for decades at the club, and was known for developing the "Flat Cat" putting grip used by many Professional Golf Association tour players. Spain died in 2017.
 
Hill has worked the fairways of Pinehurst since 1984, and is noted for his uncanny ability to read the greens better than anyone in Pinehurst history. Scheirer was on the bag for Danny Lee, when Lee won the 2008 U.S. Amateur and he twice caddied for winners of the club's North & South Amateur. Trinchitella has trained more than 80 percent of the caddies who have come through Pinehurst since 2001. A former golf professional, Smith became a Pinehurst caddie in 1998 and two years later took over as caddiemaster.
 
Induction into the Pinehurst Caddie Hall of Fame, Corso says, is meaningful to the loopers, another name for a caddie. He still remembers 2001, when Fletcher "Fletch" Gaines was inducted.
 
"Fletch caddied for Donald Ross," Corso says of Ross, who designed Pinehurst No. 2. "So Fletch was the dean of caddies. Fletcher Gaines hired a limousine to bring him to the front door, and he was dressed in a tuxedo."
 
And if Gaines was the dean in the caddie quarters, there also was the late Willie McRae, a Pinehurst caddie for 75 years, who carried golf bags for five presidents and golfing greats Bobby Jones, Gene Sarzaen and Sam Snead. McRae was 85 when he died Oct. 28.
 
McRae, Gaines, Steed, John T. Daniel, Jeff "Ratt Man" Ferguson, Teddy Marley, Robert "Hard Rock" Robinson, Hilton "Doctor" Rodgers, Robert Stafford and early-era caddiemaster Jack Williams were inductees in the inaugural class.
 
"Now we have a new crop of caddies, and they are worthy of the recognition," says Corso, now executive director of the economic development group Moore County Partners in Progress. "They are the first guys guests meet, and they truly have a lot to do with the opinions people have of being on the golf course."
 
 
This article is written by Bill Kirby Jr. from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.