A Chat with Putter Boy

After holding the same pose for 112 years, it’s no surprise golf’s eternal child has become a little bent

One of the game’s oldest living statues, Pinehurst’s iconic Putter Boy turned 112 this year. Despite his advanced age, the lad’s mind remains sharp—indeed acerbic—and he was gracious enough to grant LINKS Magazine a rare interview during the run-up to the 124th U.S. Open. We joined him at his home at the center of the Thistle Dhu putting green.


LINKS: Thank you so much for making time for us.

PB: No big deal. Hell, what else have I got to do?

LINKS: Right, well, first off, how would you prefer to be addressed, as Putter or Mr. Boy?

PB: Putter will do fine. I hate my surname.

putter boy
Putter Boy (photo courtesy Pinehurst Resort)

LINKS: Why is that?

PB: How do you think you’d feel if, for the last century-plus, people had called you “Boy.”  Other than being ageist, sexist, and racist, it’s a splendid name.

LINKS: I see… Well congratulations on your longevity—112 is older than any other American.

PB: Yes, I’ll admit to being quite proud of that. You know, Hogan, Nelson, and Snead were all born the same year I was—1912—and they’ve all been dead for decades while I’ve managed to stay fairly youthful, except for a spot of corrosion here and there.

LINKS: Yes, you seem quite spry, actually.

PB: Well, when you begin life bent from the waist at nearly a 45-degree angle, even when the arthritis sets in, no one really notices.

LINKS: How has your golf game held up? What’s your current handicap?

PB: What are you, blind? My handicap is that I’m two feet tall and my feet are welded to a plinth.

LINKS: Right…

PB: Believe me, I’d love to hop off this damned pedestal and stroke a few putts. As long as I’ve been standing here with nothing to do but watch people play on this green, I know every inch of it. I suspect I could make a nice living hustling hotel guests, even with this ridiculous club I’m stuck with. It’s not even a putter, it’s a hickory-shafted driver with a gooseneck hosel. What the hell were they thinking when they named me Putter Boy? Couldn’t they have gone with “Driving Force” or “Mighty Mite” or something like that?

LINKS: So I gather you’re not wild about your first name then either.

PB: Bingo.

LINKS: I heard the reason for the long club is that you originally were a sundial and the club shaft needed to be long enough to cast a shadow on the clockface. Is that true?

PB: Well, yes, I did spend most of my working life as a timekeeper under the name Sundial Boy. Back then I stood just outside the clubhouse. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Putter thing caught on. God knows why.

LINKS: That must have been taxing work, out here 24 hours a day in every kind of weather.

PB: You’re damn right it was. Don’t believe that, “It’s a beautiful day in Pinehurst” stuff. We get some real stinkers here in January and February. The worst part was, on any day when the sun didn’t shine, I couldn’t do my job.

Postcard of Putter Boy
(photo courtesy Pinehurst Resort)

LINKS: I would have thought the hot and sunny days were almost as brutal. Explains that floppy hat, I guess.

PB: You had to bring up the hat, didn’t you?

LINKS: Not fond of it?

PB: Would you be happy looking like a mini version of the Gorton’s Fisherman? I mean, it’s not as if I’m at risk for skin cancer. My skin is literally bronze.

LINKS: Was there ever a time when you got some relief from the elements?

PB: Yeah, back in 1978, just after my sundial days ended, I got moved into the World Golf Hall of Fame, which was then headquartered here in a monument to tastelessness behind the 4th green of No. 2. I must admit I enjoyed the air-conditioned comfort, but it was a crashing bore. Almost nobody came to visit. I was relieved when the PGA Tour took the Hall down to Florida—without me—and I came back here. These days, since I don’t have to work, I’m enjoying Pinehurst pretty much like the other resident retirees.

LINKS: But the World Golf Hall of Fame has returned to Pinehurst, no?

PB: Yeah, the USGA has taken it over, and they’ve put up a fancy new two-story building just a short walk from here.

LINKS: Any word about what that will mean for you?

PB: Nothing, I hope. Every time I see someone in a blue blazer walking toward me, I get nervous. The last thing I want is to go back to being a museum piece. Like Tiger, I’m not ready to become a ceremonial figure. I prefer to be out here where the action is, where guys are always patting me on the back, I get the occasional kiss from a young lady, and pose for dozens of selfies every day. Not long ago, someone told me I’ve racked up more selfies this year than PSS.

LINKS: PSS?

PB:  Payne Stewart’s statue. We refer to each other as PBS and PSS. We’ve always had a bit of a competition going. Obviously, he’s much better looking than I am, and he also enjoys a more prestigious location [behind the 18th green of No. 2], so to be ahead of him, particularly at my age, is a hoot.

LINKS: What about the U.S. Open coming to town? Anyone you’re pulling for?

PB: Brian Harman.

LINKS: Ah, the reigning Open Champion. You like to see him score the double, right?

PB: Nope. I’d just like to see someone score one for the little guys.

Thank you for supporting our journalism. If you prefer to read in print, you can also find this article in the Summer 2024 issue of LINKS Magazine. Click here for more information.

THE BEST OF GOLF

FOLLOW US ON

Discover endless entertainment and opportunities at UK casinos not on GamStop, offering you a chance to play without restrictions. Join now and elevate your gaming experience!