As one of my fellow caddies, James, pointed out, “Every round of golf you see something remarkable. It may not be good remarkable, but it’s still remarkable.”
He’s right, from a wildly errant drive bouncing off a split rail fence back into play and a high-handicap hitting the shot of his life, I’ve witnessed memorable feats.
Here are my award winners for the 2013 golf season:
Best Shot I Didn’t See, or Best Caddy Advice of the Year: The 15th hole at Machrihanish Dunes in Scotland, where I caddied for the summer, plays about 140 yards and is by the sea. In July, as a group stepped to the tee, the caddy, Alex, asked his player what club he had chosen. When the guy replied “8-iron,” Alex suggested he go to a 9.
“There’s wind,” the player responded.
“There was wind,” Alex replied. “Right now there’s no wind. Hit the 9.”
The player followed his advice and aced the hole.
Best Shot I Saw: Fifteen holes into an important club event, the player I was caddying for, a 16 handicap, holed out for eagle, net double eagle, from 125 yards. Once again, I was reminded how golf remains possibly the only sport when for the briefest of moments an average person can truly play like the best in the world.
He closed out the match on the next green.
Dumb Comment Award (PGA Tour Player Category): Johnson Wagner blames too much topdressing for the issues on a green at Quail Hollow in the week leading up to the PGA Tour event there. Wagner, a member at Quail Hollow, doesn’t have a background in agronomics.
Best Response to a PGA Tour Player’s Dumb Comment: Andy Pazder, the PGA Tour’s chief of operations, debunking Wagner’s assertion.
“There were a number of factors involved which contributed to the decline in the conditions of the 10th green, but over-topdressing wasn’t one of them.”
(Somebody nominate Pazder for the GCSAA’s Old Tom Morris Award, please.)
Dumb Comment Award (Recreational Golfer Category: “There is no reason for there to be Poa on any of these greens,” said the irate man from California while standing on a Scottish course, “and I know how to get rid of it.”
I couldn’t bring myself to ask.
Best Round I Caddied for or Best Reminder of How Golf Should be Played: One of the groups I caddied for at Machrihanish was the Mozen family from California: Eddie, Barbara and their son, Isaac, 12.
Barbara suffered a series of strokes, rendering her left side almost completely paralyzed, but that doesn’t stop her from walking and golfing 18 holes, which she did with caddie Duncan on her golf bag. Eddie, an emergency room doctor, carried his own, and I toted Isaac’s clubs, his first experience with a caddy.
Barbara’s best tee balls travel no more than 120 yards, and she duffs shots fairly often. She is unable to make her way in and out of bunkers, so when she did find sand during the round, it was Isaac, much to his delight, who played the shot for her. I nicknamed him Bunker Boy. (Much to Duncan’s delight; his player hit it from the sand, and I had to do the raking.)
Their round took somewhere in the neighborhood of a respectable five hours on a layout where a threesome usually plays in about four and a half hours.
From the very start, what struck Duncan and me about the Mozens was the obvious pleasure they have golfing together. At no point did Eddie or Isaac act as if they were aggravated by Barbara’s pace or ability.
Barbara enjoyed herself, too. She’s one of those golfers who realizes a day on the golf course is not just about how you play or score.
Isaac is a solid player, but what I liked best about his game was that I couldn’t tell what kind of shot he hit by his disposition. He’s not expressionless like a PGA Tour robot. If the golf ball was pured or thinned, he still headed down the fairway as if there was no other place on earth he’d rather be.
Eddie can get his game going and found joy in a well-played effort of his own – especially when he edged out Isaac to win a hole – as well as in the accomplishments of his wife and son.
“We love and cherish our family and the ability to golf together,” Eddie told me.
James was right. You see something remarkable every round.