When I served as historian of the Pinehurst Country Club, I relied upon the rich resources of the Tufts Archives to learn about the fascinating history of the famed golf courses created by Donald Ross under the aegis of several generations of the Tufts family.
Inquiries there sparked my interest to learn the provenance of the legendary “Putter Boy” sundial statue, which has served as the well-known trademark of Pinehurst golf since 1910.
The statue is located outside the clubhouse by the putting green. Competitors will often rub the statue for good luck. Children like to be photographed standing next to it. Yet in spite of its worldwide recognition, almost no one in town can tell you who sculpted the beloved diminutive figure.
The artist who created it did so at the suggestion of Gertrude Ware Sise Tufts, the wife of the club president, Leonard Tufts. Her name was Lucy Currier Richards.
Gertrude and Lucy were close friends. Lucy’s inspiration for the statue was Pinehurst’s “Golf Lad,” who appeared in early advertising and on calendars sent each year to guests and travel agents to promote the resort. When she received the commission to do the work, Richards was a prominent Boston sculptor (or sculptress, as women who worked with clay were called in those days).
She had studied at the Boston Museum School, and in Europe with Krops in Dresden, Enstritz in Berlin, and at the Académie Julian, when Thomas Hart Benton, Henri Matisse, Diego Rivera and Edward Steichen also attended. Her bronzes were exhibited at the 1912 Chicago Art Institute and the 1915 San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition.
The archives of the Roman Bronze Works (which was located in Brooklyn, New York, from 1899 until 1977) show that Lucy Richards made one bronze casting of a “Golf Boy Sun Dial” on Aug. 5, 1910. This could be the one she presented to the Tuftses. Today at the club, one may purchase replicas in various sizes and materials. Winners of club events are often presented trophies of the famous lad.
When I was researching Lucy Richard’s life, I was informed by Marty Grover, then curator and archivist at the Castle Preservation Society, located within two miles of Richard Tufts’ home in New Hampshire, that she’d discovered a 1906 portrait of Lucy in the possession of the Smithsonian Art Museum.
The oil painting had been done by Marie Danforth Page and showed Lucy at her modeling stand, creating the figure of a woman.
The Smithsonian has no record showing the fate of the painting, which is no longer in its possession.
Lucy died Aug. 31, 1919, and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, a national landmark in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On July 30, 1947, her second husband, Frank Wilson, moved her remains to Belfast, Maine, where the two are buried side by side.
2019 will be the centennial year of Lucy Currier Richard’s death. I’d like to see Pinehurst Resort take steps to honor her lasting artistic achievement. Her famous bronze “Putter Boy” sundial has for too long anonymously symbolized the spirit of golf here.
Meanwhile, the Pinehurst village government might deem it fitting to name a street, or the proposed Recreation Center, in her honor.
Pinehurst, you owe Lucy a big vote of thanks for providing her remarkable and durable symbol of the joys of golf!
Paul R. Dunn lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at email@example.com.