PINEHURST, N.C. — For golfers who have qualified for the U.S. Amateur, nothing will top the memories of competing in the national championship. But each year USGA officials try to provide the 312 players in the field with a unique memento to help them remember the experience.
In 2014 at Atlanta Athletic Club, players received a replica of Bobby Jones’ famed Calamity Jane putter. At Riviera in 2017, it was a pair of AG Jeans made in California. Last year at Pebble Beach, competitors received a photo of the seventh hole with their name etched in the frame.
This year at Pinehurst Resort, the USGA teamed up with Heritage Flag Company, a business based in nearby Southern Pines, to create wood flags that mimic the design of an American flag. There’s a backstory to the flags, however, that adds to the uniqueness of the gift: Each of them is made from trees that once stood on Pinehurst No. 2.
In 2016, Pinehurst was hit hard when Hurricane Matthew slammed into North Carolina. In the storm's wake, about 160 long-leaf pine trees at the resort had been damaged or fallen. Bob Farren, VP of golf course maintenance at Pinehurst, contacted Heath Trigg, owner of Hertiage Flag, to see if he was interested in the wood for his business. The answer was a quick yes.
Three years later, as Pinehurst and the USGA were preparing for the U.S. Amateur, and there was still wood available from the Pinehurst haul, the group came up with the idea of the flag that had the sentimental connection to the resort.
“There is just nothing like that tree growing on the course they’re playing on being turned into an American flag and being gifted to them,” Trigg said.
The flags were personalized with each player's name carved into the lower right part of the flag.
For those more curious about the process, the USGA put together this video about the venture.