U.S. Open: At Pinehurst, the Caddies Are Key

With their knowledge of the course, they can save players “several strokes a round.”

Willie McRae, a caddie who spent more than seven decades at the Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, the host of this week’s U.S. Open, was a beloved figure who did his utmost to help his players.

“My dad would always tell the story that his job depended on what kind of tip he got,” said Paul McRae, his son who is a golf instructor at the Pinehurst Golf Academy. (His father died in 2018 at 85.) “He’d occasionally come home with holes in his pocket so he could drop a ball for a golfer. Those other guys would say, ‘Man, you sure play good when Willie is here, but you don’t when Willie isn’t around.’ He knew how to make players feel good.”

Pinehurst is a cradle of American golf. Donald Ross, one of the most prolific golf course architects, lived in the town and tested out ideas about course design at the club. But it also has an underappreciated role in American caddying.

What was once a profession that was looked down upon, caddying has gained respect over time. It’s now an integral part of the experience at golf resorts around the world. After all, there is no one else who spends five or six hours with guests as guides, psychologists and storytellers.

“During the last U.S. Open, Justin Rose came in early and took my dad out on No. 2 so he could read the greens for him,” McRae said. No. 2 is the championship course. “My dad caddied for Ben Hogan. Hogan would ask him, ‘Where should I aim?’ My dad would say, ‘Aim at that tree.’ Hogan would say, ‘Which part of the tree?’”

The caddie Willie McRae at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.David Goldman/Associated Press

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Source: Golf -


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