McRae, Gerring Selected to Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2017
SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (Oct. 17, 2016) – A longtime teaching professional and a Pinehurst Resort caddy -- both still active in the game of golf into their 80s -- have been selected for induction into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
John Gerring, 81, who won the Atlantic Coast Conference individual golf title his senior year at Wake Forest and is a member of the PGA Hall of Fame, was selected by members of the Carolinas Golf Association Hall of Fame committee, as was Willie McRae, 83, who has caddied for presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford – and thousands of others for more than 70 years -- at famed Pinehurst No. 2.
The two will become the 73rd and 74th members inducted into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame at a banquet staged by the CGA at a date and location yet to be determined.
Gerring, a High Point native who used to log daily practice rounds with Arnold Palmer as a freshman on the Wake Forest men’s golf team, still teaches lessons five days a week at Eagle Zone Golf Improvement Center in Greenville, S.C.
“I am still going strong, and I try to hit 100 balls a day myself,” said Gerring, who was runner-up in the 1956 Carolinas Amateur and was the PGA Professional of the Year in 1981. He has also been head professional at Biltmore Forest in Asheville, N.C., and Green Valley CC and Greenville CC in Greenville, S.C., before working at Eagle Zone.
Gerring shakes his head at his more than six decades in the game of golf.
“After I finished at Wake Forest I kind of envisioned I was going into the military,” he said. “Then I realized that I could still play a little bit so I decided to explore that, and then after that I kept on going.”
Arguably Gerring’s biggest contribution to golf has been his ability to teach ordinary golfers with handicaps from 15 to 35 to enjoy the game.
“I have tried to teach a golf swing for the recreational golfer,” Gerring said, “It’s sort of old school vs. modern and I am an old school teacher. If you are 24 years old and are 30 inches in the waist line you can probably handle the modern swing for awhile, but the recreational golfer is not in a position to do so.”
Meanwhile, McRae started caddying at Pinehurst Resort in the early 1940s, even looping for famed golf course architect Donald Ross and Richard Tufts, the grandson of Pinehurst founder James Walker Tufts.
“I got tired of working on the farm so hard so when I was 10 my daddy asked me if I would like to caddy and I said ‘yeah,”’ McRae said. “I’ve met so many good people that I wouldn’t have met on a regular job. Everybody has been so nice.”
The Pinehurst Resort caddymaster still receives as many as eight requests a day for McRae to forecaddie for groups, and the 83-year-old at times comes in at 6:45 a.m. and will log 36 holes.
“I figured out three things early on about caddying – show up, keep up and shut up,” McRae said.
When asked if he was ever nervous caddying for presidents, the affable McRae laughed and shot back: “No, I have nerves of steel. When you come to think about it they ain’t no better than you. Presidents put their clothes on the same way as you; they don’t jump into them. He has to put them on and pull them up. He may have a higher job than me but that don’t mean nothing because in God’s eyes we’re all the same.”
Story courtesy of David Droschak, who has covered golf in the Carolinas for more than three decades. Droschak is also the media representative of the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame Selection Committee.