A group of Aramco Retiree Golfers, determined to play the top golf courses on their “Bucket List” in North America and around the world, bagged world-renowned Pinehurst May 3-7, 2021. The courses hosted the Men’s U.S. Open Championships in 1999, 2005 and 2014 and the U.S. Women's Open Championship in 2014.
The Pinehurst Resort, built in 1895, is a quintessential resort encompassing three historic hotels, a wealth of recreational activities, and 2,000 breathtaking North Carolina acres. Wide verandas, afternoon tea, walking trails, and idyllic pathways meander through the quaint New England-style village, which is full of shops, galleries, and more. The North Carolina pines whisper the legends of Hogan, Snead, Nicklaus and Palmer. And the fairways of Pinehurst No. 2 offer a walk unlike any other.
The eight golfers stand behind the iconic topiary PINEHURST that graces the entrance to the historical Pinehurst resort. The golfers on this trip included Ken Pitts, Mike Haas, Jimmy Phillips, Mel Knotts, Robin MacDonald, Will Kochinski, Ray Krygsman and Gregg Skinner.
Below, Ken Pitts (L) and Will Kochinski (R) pose next to the Payne Stewart statue at the golf club. Payne Stewart won the 1999 U.S. Open and his winning gesture on the 18th hole was immortalized in a bronze statue at the site of his historical victory. The statue is the center of attention for golfers as they prepare to challenge the Pinehurst courses with many making that same victorious pose of Payne Stewart.
Becky Pitts celebrated her birthday while on the trip with Ken, her husband, arranging for a surprise birthday cake at the 4-bedroom resort cabin parlor area. Mickie Haas is pictured in the background and everyone joined in to wish her happy birthday, but no details given about her exact age.
Part of the group celebrated Becky’s birthday at the Ironwood Restaurant in Pinehurst serving a wide range of delectable foods. The photo below (L to R) includes Shayne Skinner, Gregg Skinner, Mike Haas, Mel Knotts, Ken Pitts, “Birthday Girl” Becky Pitts, Will Kochinski, Marti Knotts and Mickie Haas. Will Kochinski graciously hosted the event for all the birthday guests.
The group played Pinehurst Courses, 2, 4 and 8. Pinehurst 2 is the world-famous golf course with stunning views through all 18 holes. Caddies were used to provide course knowledge about where to hit the ball and were especially helpful to read the greens. The Caddie Master warned us that we would probably shoot 10 over our handicap on Pinehurst 2 due to the challenging course and slippery greens, and even though the course was tough, everyone thoroughly enjoyed their rounds.
The weather was beautiful the entire week and was glorious walking down the fairways with the whispering tall pines, water features and marveling at the difficulty of the “turtle back” greens.
Below is probably the best group photo of the week (L to R) Mel Knotts, Mike Haas, Ray Krygsman, Jimmy Phillips, Robin MacDonald, Will Kochinski, Gregg Skinner and Ken Pitts kneeling.
The group finished on Pinehurst 8 on the last day of the trip. The below photo includes (L to R) Mike Haas, Mel Knotts, Jimmy Phillips, Gregg Skinner, Ray Krygsman, Ken Pitts, Will Kochinski and Robin MacDonald. The famous Pinehurst black Fox Squirrel on Robin’s right shoulder with a bright white nose is actually a stuffed animal he purchased in the golf shop. The live creatures are bountiful throughout the course and very friendly.
The final dinner was held outside the 4-bedroom cabin on the back patio area and was hosted by Robin MacDonald. The dinner included local roasted Blue Point oysters, jumbo boiled shrimp and crab claws as appetizers, thyme roasted sea bass and beef filet mignon as the main course along with salad and steamed vegetables. The dessert was bourbon caramel pecan cheesecake.
The photo below includes seated at the left table Gregg Skinner, Mel Knotts, Marti Knotts, Shayne Skinner, Becky Pitts and Ken Pitts and seated at the right table Will Kochinski, Mickie Haas, Ray Krygsman, Jimmy Phillips and Robin MacDonald. Not shown, photographer Mike Haas.
The group bid farewell to each other as everyone headed back home after a memorable week of golf and visiting among Aramco retiree friends. It was a fantastic event and everyone is looking forward to finding another “Bucket List” course.
The group has already played the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, Pebble Beach in California, Kiawah Island in South Carolina, Cabot Links in Cape Breton Nova Scotia, TPC Sawgrass in Florida, Shadow Creek in Nevada along with other notable golf courses.