Northwest News

The Nose: Meet Pete, the larger-than-life golfer you won’t see at U.S. Open

You’ve heard The Schnoz sniff about how the U.S. Open volunteer shirts and hats were made in China. You’ve heard us fuss about how most of the recent tournament winners were made in Europe. And one of the main TV commentators, Greg Norman, was made in Australia.

All the while, the golf championship czars pledge that they procure their goods and services from local sources as much as they possibly can.

Well, here’s a chance for them to prove it before the clubs start swinging on June 15.

This week we discovered a 12 1/2-foot tall tribute to the game of kings and commoners that not only was made in America, not only made in Washington state, but made right here in Pierce County.

Introducing Pete the Putter, an eye-popping piece of pop-culture sculpture. He’s a Frankenstein monster working on his short game, a freak show assembled from 1,200 golf balls screwed and welded to steel-tube limbs.

And he would look simply stunning standing outside the main Chambers Bay entrance on Grandview Drive.

Sure, that oil painting of the 10th hole that the U.S. Open commissioned from some guy from New Hampshire is an attractive piece of art, as far as it goes.

But inviting Pete to the party would be the piece de resistance. He is the handiwork of Chuck Fitzgerald of Puyallup, a retired educator who spent 23 years teaching graphic arts and career-tech classes at Auburn and Clover Park high schools.

Alas, Pete to this point has been prohibited from the premises by U.S. Open poobahs.

“They’re a little picky about these things,” Chuck told The Nose this week, standing next to the flatbed trailer he uses to haul Pete around the region in search of a buyer, charity partner, corporate sponsor, mobile advertiser — or just new friends. (Perhaps you saw Pete and Chuck rolling through Tacoma, Puyallup and Sumner in the Daffodil Parade several weeks ago.)

Chuck would love to turn some heads during next month’s internationally televised golfapalooza. But access to neighborhoods around Chambers Bay is stricter than Alcatraz. He thinks South 56th Street in Tacoma is the closest anyone will let him park his trailer.

For every door that has seemed to open, another has closed. But it’s not for a lack of trying. Chuck welded a donation lockbox to Pete’s feet, hoping to raise money for a youth golf foundation or other charity. He has shopped his creation around to Pierce County, the United States Golf Association, Nike and Titleist, among others.

Not on your life, pal, they all told him — or words to that effect.

While Pete is shown lining up a putt for birdie, the world treats him like a bogeyman.

Seems like now is the time for Snores Truly to get involved, flare our intimidating nostrils and exert our considerable influence.

Ya know, the same influence we exerted to get the Tacoma Dome turned into a giant golf ball for the U.S. Open.

Memo to the USGA: Quit being such fuddy duddies. Loosen the top button on your Ralph Lauren polos. Take some starch out of your chinos.

Do it, for the sake of supporting American ingenuity.

Do it, for the sake of a retired high school teacher who had 1,200 golf balls and a dream.

Do it, for Pete’s sake.

He’s not looking for a handout. But Chuck Fitzgerald wouldn’t mind making a few bucks on his golf sculpture, just as he did with the 64 foot massagers he recently sold to his competitor at the Washington State Fair. (Chuck Fitzgerald, Northwest Designs.)
He’s not looking for a handout. But Chuck Fitzgerald wouldn’t mind making a few bucks on his golf sculpture, just as he did with the 64 foot massagers he recently sold to his competitor at the Washington State Fair. (Chuck Fitzgerald, Northwest Designs.)

He also does foot massages!: You might’ve run into the creative designs of Chuck Fitzgerald more than you realize. He sells everything from Seahawks decals to “Jesus Saves” stickers on his website.

The man has been installing large-scale sculptures around the Northwest for 25 years, including the grasshopper above the dance floor at the Swiss Tavern.

He also had in hand in making some of those coin-operated foot massagers (aka kinetic sculptures) you’ve probably enjoyed at the Puyallup Fair.

Come to think of it, with all the hoofing through the fescue grass next month, we’d like to see those at the U.S. Open, too.

Long live the king: They ran a tight ship at PLU last week during the visit of His Majesty King Harald V of Norway, what with a phalanx of Norwegian and U.S. secret service agents and various Lute courtiers running interference.

But one bit of printed protocol for the news media left us puzzled: “At no time may any member of the press walk backward in front of the King.”

We assume it’s a sign of disrespect to show your hiney to Your Highness.

A strict rule? Ya sure, ya betcha. No ifs, ands or butts about it.

Egg on our Nose, times two: We bollixed up a couple things in the column two weeks ago.

First, we confused the gender of Waffles, the dog that showed up for a Gov. Jay Inslee bill signing. He is actually a she.

Then, we gave the wrong concert that Bill “Mac Daddy” Gates and his family attended at the Tacoma Dome. It was Katy Perry, not Miley Cyrus.

On the bright side, we didn’t confuse the genders of anyone in the Gates family.

We regret the errors and offer apologies to all who might have been offended including but not limited to: Waffles, Waffles’ owner, Waffles’ publicist, the Gates family, Miley Cyrus and readers repulsed by the image of Bill Gates twerking.

That is all.

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