Welcome back Valley Golfers. It’s hard to believe it, but this week is actually the last major championship of the year on the PGA Tour, the PGA Championship.
This year, the tour takes “Glory’s Last Shot” to the amazing Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to get to play The Ocean Course. A very good friend of mine, Jim Phillips (we call him Senior), has a son, Danny (we call him Niedermeyer) who caddies at The Ocean Course. When I got the invite to go down and celebrate Danny’s birthday at The Ocean Course, I was more than willing to accept.
One of the neat aspects of playing the Ocean Course is that 99% of the golfers down there have to take caddies. It was a great experience.
Sadly, caddies have become a forgotten part of the game.
Truth is, caddies are often times almost as important as the players themselves. Whether it be guiding players around the course, helping pick target lines, reading putts, talking strategy, or just simply helping control emotions, there’s a reason why the top caddies on tour today are “two comma” earners (over $1,000,000).
On a personal level, I’ve always loved having a caddy. Being able to walk down the fairway and actually think about a shot seems to help me so much more than quickly driving my cart to my ball and firing right away.
Over the years, I’ve had remarkable caddy experiences in tournaments. My friend Mike Ferranti caddied for me in high school when I qualified for the second stage of the US Open Qualifier. And my dad, David, and my brother, Justin, caddied for me in a number of junior and amateur tournaments.
But my top caddy memory has to be from the old junior match play tournament at Stambaugh (The Muny!) in Youngstown. My grandpa Karzmer used to get a pull cart and caddy for me each year.
As a 10- or 12-year-old, I hadn’t quite mastered all of the intricacies of the game yet. And even though “Gramps” wasn’t a huge golfer in his own right, he was able to teach me something I’ll always remember…
Back then, whenever I hit a good approach shot onto a green, I would start walking toward the green. But Grandpa stopped me. I can still hear him in my head as I type this tell me: “Take your putter. There’s no better feeling in golf than walking down the fairway with your putter in your hand.”
He was right. To this day, I still like to take out my putter as soon as I hit the green and enjoy the walk my grandpa taught me 20 years ago.
On a local level, there really aren’t a lot of opportunities to use caddies anymore.
From a revenue standpoint, I understand why the local courses and clubs have gone strictly to renting electric carts. But from a golfer’s standpoint, I think we all would enjoy a round or two with someone there to help us.
In a few short weeks, there is a chance to play with caddies.
For those of us who are competing for the Greatest Golfer of the Valley title, be sure to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Regardless of how you play, if you can create a memory half as good as the one I have with my grandpa, I promise you’ll enjoy the experience.
As always, thanks for reading, and until next week, “Hit ‘em Straight.”
Jonah Karzmer is a former player at YSU and a member at The Lake Club. He works in insurance when not writing a golf column every Sunday in The Vindicator. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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