Carolina Hurricanes' broadcaster Chuck Kaiton on his favorite North Carolina golf courses and memories
At NorthCarolinaGolf.com we traverse the state in search of notable North Carolina sports figures to talk about their favorite golf courses and experiences on the links.
Carolina Hurricanes' NHL Hall of Fame broadcaster Chuck Kaiton, an alumnus of the University of Michigan, began his career in 1979 with the Hartford Whalers, then relocated to the Canes when the Whalers' franchise moved to the Triangle in 1997. Kaiton has also been serving as the president of the NHL Broadcasters Association since 1986.
An avid golfer both in and out of season, Kaiton shared his thoughts on the game, golf courses he enjoys and colleagues who can tear up a course.
NorthCarolinaGolf.com: When did you start playing and how has your game progressed over the years? What PGA Tour players do you enjoy watching?
Chuck Kaiton: I began playing somewhat seriously in 2000. I never had a lot of time raising three boys in Connecticut prior to that as I coached baseball from Little League through Legion Ball with them all. I play three times a week in the summer and try to play at least once a week during the hockey season when time and weather allows.
I play Titleist all the way from clubs to balls. My handicap is a lack of consistency, or 18, whatever comes first. I love my pitching wedge and three-wood. My short game and putting are my fortes, but that doesn't mean I'm ready for the Champions Tour. I never played golf in high school or college, in fact I couldn't stand the game then. My favorite pro is Mark Weibe, who is a good friend of mine. He's a big hockey fan, whom I met at the SAS Championship several years ago. I had the good fortune of playing a practice round with him, and we just hit it off. Of the younger players, there's something about Jordan Speith I like, though I've never met him.
NorthCarolinaGolf.com: What would be your three favorite courses to play around North Carolina and what makes a course challenging to your game?
Chuck Kaiton: My three favorite courses are Pine Needles (Southern Pines), Mid Pines (Southern Pines) and Raleigh Country Club. They are all very playable and yet challenging enough for a hacker like me. All are very fun and are always kept in beautiful shape.
I also love Crooked Creek Golf Club in Fuquay-Varina, because it's almost two different courses in one as the front and back nine are completely different.
To me, a challenging course is one in which there are a combination of short and long holes, elevation changes and reachable par 3s, where I can really score!
NorthCarolinaGolf.com: What are your favorite individual holes to play?
Chuck Kaiton: My favorite hole is No. 18 at Mid Pines. That visage of approaching the clubhouse and hotel and the way the course is manicured -- there's none better. Next would be No. 18 at Pine Needles, where I always think of the First Lady of Golf, Peggy Kirk Bell, who lives on the right side of the fairway on that dogleg left hole.
NorthCarolinaGolf.com: What's the most alluring aspect of the game of golf to you?
Chuck Kaiton: The camaraderie of playing a round of golf with good friends makes the day! And with the folks I play with, it doesn't matter how good or bad I play, I always feel a sense of fellowship. Plus, when the weather is perfect, which it is in North Carolina during the fall and spring, there's nothing better than being on a beautiful course.
NorthCarolinaGolf.com: What's the closest you've come to a hole in one?
Chuck Kaiton: I actually do have one hole in one. It came on the third hole I think at Gates Four in Fayetteville on July 23, 2013. It was an elevated green from about 140 yards, so I never saw it go in the hole. But I was playing with my pro friend, Henry Leon. I've gloated ever since! He's never had one.
NorthCarolinaGolf.com: Who are some of the best athlete/broadcast golfers you know?
Chuck Kaiton: Easily the best players I've seen are former Cane Jeff O'Neill and Ray Whitney. I've played with Jeff but never with Ray, though it would've been fun. Currently, Ron Hainsey, Cam Ward and John-Michael Liles are the best players I know, all scratch golfers. Rick Peckham, the Tampa Bay Lightning play-by-play man, who used to do the Whalers with me, is the best broadcaster/golfer I know. He's getting better all the time thanks to living down in the Tampa area.
NorthCarolinaGolf.com: What courses are on your golfing bucket list?
Chuck Kaiton: I'd love to play Oakmont, Marion and Pebble Beach someday, but I'm not holding my breath.
Chuck Kaiton image courtesy of Berger Bytes.
December 12, 2014