Monday, April 1, 2013
The Finance Director
Steve excelled in all sports but his great love was golf. He competed in numerous Junior Golf Tournaments and during one match he took future PGA Pro Duffy Waldorf to a sudden death playoff before losing on the second extra hole.
Steve and Duffy became great friends and drinking buddies. (Steve would be Best Man at Duffy's wedding.) As Duffy's golf career began to take off, Steve asked if he could caddy for Duffy in a tournament. Surprisingly, Duffy said yes.
Their first tournament together was the Winnebago Classic on the mini-tour. The environment was casual and relaxed and Steve's lack of caddy skills posed no problem. At least until the second round. Duffy was on pace to set a course record. As they reached the 18th green, Duffy had a 10-foot putt to set the record. Steve reached into the bag for the putter but it was gone. "You don't have your putter do you, Duff," Steve asked. Duffy stared back. "No."
Realizing he'd left the putter on the previous hole, Steve sprinted to the 17th green, grabbed the club, ran back to the 18th hole and watched as Duffy calmly drained the putt. Duffy went on to win the tournament and Steve earned $750 for his 3-day effort as caddy.
When Duffy joined the PGA Tour Steve again asked to caddy in a tournament. Duffy offered Steve the 1992 Phoenix Open. The PGA environment was different. Most of the caddies were pros themselves and caddying was how they made their living. They didn't take kindly to outsiders coming in for a weekend of casual fun.
Duffy gave Steve a few tips: where to stand, when to tend the pin, make sure to avoid the eye line of other golfers. "Return the club to the bag after I'm done with it. I don't need you sprinting through the course for forgotten putters." Steve viewed his job primarily as cleaning clubs, carrying the bag and keeping Duffy loose and relaxed. Their chemistry was effective. As they played Round 4, Duffy was tied for the lead with 9 holes to go. Mark Calcavecchia went on a birdie run to win the tournament but Duffy took second place earning him $108,000. Steve's share as caddie: $2,500.
Steve would caddie for Duffy numerous times over the next few years. Duffy's playing partners included some of the game's greats: Phil Mickelson, John Daly, Rocco Mediate. At one tournament, as Steve stood on the green Duffy yelled out, "Don't move. You're standing on Mickelson's mark." Duffy walked over and instructed Steve to press down hard then slowly lift his foot. If the ball mark were to move, Duffy would suffer a two-stroke penalty (costing him thousands of dollars). Fortunately, the mark did not stick to Steve's foot and Steve was able to resume breathing again.
Caddies are not allowed to wear spikes. During the 1994 Kemper Open in Maryland, the tournament was interrupted by rain. As play resumed, Steve was carrying Duffy's bag up a steep hill when he lost his footing on the slick grass. The bag went airborne and Duffy's clubs were thrown into the rough. The gallery gave Steve an ovation as he collected himself and gathered the clubs.
Though Duffy finally hired a permanent caddy in 1998, Steve would have one last stint as caddy. Golfer Paul Stankowski, who Steve met through Duffy, needed a caddy for the 1998 Los Angeles Open. On the second hole, Stankowski asked for Steve's feedback on a putt. Steve studied the break then said "the putt will break 6 inches right to left." Stankowski struck the putt. The ball started right, as Steve predicted, then it broke even further right far from the hole. Steve didn't realize that all greens at Riviera Country Club broke toward the ocean.
Steve no longer caddies but his love for golf remains. He is still friends with Duffy. More important, he makes sure to return his club to the bag after each use. (5" x 7", black ink print)