When Tyler Strafaci was younger, his parents would tell him stories about his late grandfather, Frank Strafaci, an accomplished amateur golfer who died in 1988, 10 years before his grandson was born. Among those tales was how much Frank Strafaci adored Pinehurst, where he won two North and South Amateurs, in 1938 and ‘39.
It didn’t take long for Tyler to see why.
“The first thing we would do [when we’d come to Pinehurst], my dad would walk me into the locker room and we’d find Grandpa’s locker,” Tyler said. “We’d sit in there and look at all of the names.
“I never thought that this day would ever come.”
For years, Frank Jr., Tyler’s father, tried to join his dad as a North and South champion, just like the Nicklauses, Jack and Jack Jr., did in 1959 and ‘85, respectively. That day never came for Frank Jr., but it did for his son.
Now 21, Tyler joined his grandpa as the only grandfather/grandson duo to win the North and South, as the Georgia Tech senior took down Sam Houston State senior William Holcomb V in Saturday’s final, 3 and 1.
His grandpa may have given him a little help, too. With the match tied through seven holes at Pinehurst’s No. 2 course, the young Strafaci badly blocked his tee shot right at the par-4 eighth hole. However, when he and his dad, who was caddying, arrived at his ball, they found that it had miraculously kicked back into the fairway.
“I was like, ‘Grandpa, you are a silly, silly man,’” Tyler said.
Strafaci birdied the hole, then added two more, at Nos. 14 and 17, the latter coming after he stuck his tee shot to 4 feet. The ensuing made putt, for a fifth birdie of the match, clinched victory, as father and son embraced moments later.
“This place has such an unbelievable special history and feeling for me and my family,” an emotional Frank Jr. said. “And my dad … this is just so special.”
It had been a long day for Strafaci, who downed Jonathan Yuan, a 9-and-8 winner in his second-round match a day prior, in Saturday morning’s semifinals. But he and his dad spared enough energy to walk back to the clubhouse. As they set off down the 18th hole, Frank Jr. turned to his son and said, “You did it, bud.”
Tyler did something his dad could not.
His name will be emblazoned on the Perpetual Wall of Champions in Pinehurst’s History Hall.
And he’ll get his own locker, too.
Just like his grandpa.
– Quotes and other information via Pinehurst content manager Alex Podlogar