EDITORIAL: For Amateurs, It's The Joy of Playing
If you visit Pinehurst Country Club over the next few days, check out the statue of Richard S. Tufts on the "Walk of Fame."
The smile on that bronzed face, looking out from among the other statues there between the 18th green and the clubhouse, will be a little wider this week. The gathering of 315 of the world's finest amateur golfers at the resort for the 108th playing of the U.S. Amateur Championship is what Tufts was striving for as he built Pinehurst into one of the world's greatest golf destinations.
It was always about the amateurs for Mr. Tufts. He allowed the resort to stray from that premise for a brief period with the hosting of the North and South as a PGA Tour event. But when they demanded a larger purse after the 1951 tournament, it didn't take long for him to decide that professionals didn't meet the criteria of what he considered in the best interest of the game.
Not even the fact that the great Ben Hogan won his first professional championship on the Pinehurst No. 2 Course was enough to sway Tufts' outlook. He loved the purity of the game, and he felt that amateurs respected that more than did the professionals.
'For the Joy of Playing'
The late Don Padgett held much the same view as Tufts, although he was a major role player in bringing the 1999 U.S. Men's Open to Pinehurst. Padgett needed very little prompting to recite "The Creed of the Amateur" to demonstrate the passion for the true essence of the game that both he and Mr. Tufts shared.
Richard S. Tufts wrote "The Creed of the Amateur" in 1968 and read it during his induction into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. It reads:
"An amateur is one who competes in a sport for the joy of playing, for the companionship it affords, for health-giving exercise, and for relaxation from more serious matters. As a part of this light-hearted approach to the game, he accepts cheerfully all adverse breaks, is considerate of his opponent, plays the game fairly and squarely in accordance with its rules, maintains self-control, and strives to do his best, not in order to win, but rather as a test of his own skill and ability. These are his only interests, and in them, material considerations have no part. The returns which amateur sport will bring to those who play in this spirit are greater than those any money can possibly buy."
A Cherished Legacy
The hosting of the 1999 and 2005 U.S. Opens were a magnificent achievement for Pinehurst and Moore County. But Richard S. Tufts would look at the staging of the National Championships in 1962 and again this week as the ultimate accomplishment.
Anyone who truly loves the game of golf and cherishes its legacy understands the depth of Mr. Tufts' concerns. There is no questioning the talent possessed by professional players. The PGA Tour fields have never been stronger. But for pure love of the game, it's still about the amateurs.
The pros tee it up for megabucks every week. The amateurs tee it up for love. The golfer who wins here this week will more than likely turn professional shortly thereafter. But he'll never forget the thrill of hoisting the trophy that declares him the Amateur Champion.
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