Friday, September 10, 2010

Caddies Tales: 'Let's Just Go For It'

On Friday at the P&G NW Arkansas Championship (say that five times fast), I was standing on the 18th tee with Irene Cho, my friend and boss as she has started to mandate, jokingly of course. Irene had hit the ball magnificently all day after a rough start to the round that had us scrambling for pars left and right on the first three holes.

She had just hit the pin on the par-3 17th with a 4-iron on the fly, the second time in five holes that she hit a 4-iron within inches of the cup, a feat that I'm sure you can appreciate no matter your skill level (Hell, I remember years ago Golf Digest running a cover story with the question, "Are You Good Enough to Carry a 4-Iron" plastered on the front page).

She had rolled the lip with her birdie putt to stay at even par for the day, and wasn't exactly frustrated, but you could tell she was absolutely honed in on making a closing birdie on the par-5 18th.

She ripped a drive on the final hole, and started storming down the fairway engulfed in determination. She looked over at me and said, "We're going for this green," and kept walking. I liked her attitude. We'd come too far on Friday not to get in red figures before it was time to sign the scorecards.

As we approached her best drive of the day, we noticed a marker a dozen or so yards behind her ball. It read "250" and we knew that it was going to be a stretch to get the ball on the putting surface. The two players in our group hit their lay-up shots, short of the lake that sat about 40 yards short of the green. She asked me a simple question that got my newfound caddie blood a-flowin' - "What do you think?"

I replied as bluntly as I could. "Fuck it, let's go for it."

We sat discussing what exactly to do for a few minutes as the players in the group ahead exited the green. The boom mike guy from "The Golf Channel" hurried up to us to hear our conversation, something I'm sure he hadn't got all day because it seemed nearly everyone else was taking the safe approach. Irene had a twinkle in her eye. I had the same thing. We were going for it. No turning back now.

Irene hit a great three-wood up the right side, just short of the green but in a nice spot to get it up and down. She accomplished the task, and we walked away with a 1-under 70 for the day.

A friend of mine told me a few weeks back that he has got to the point where he enjoys caddying for his brother more than he enjoys playing. I thought it was crazy, because playing golf is one of my favorite things in the world.

I'll be honest - on Friday at Pinnacle Country Club, I started to understand what he meant. It's a different type of pressure when you aren't the one trying to hit the shots, but it's a different sense of happiness when your player does it. As good as Irene hits it, trusting in her to pull a certain shot off isn't so much a risk as it is a treat. I get to sit back and watch a great player hit great shots, up close and personal. I get to interact with her, chat it up with her, and occasionally just tell her, "Fuck it, let's do this."

To me, that's pretty cool. Oh, and on 18 tomorrow? I guarantee we have that same conversation.

Jonathan Ferry, Getty Images


Anonymous said...

That's awesome, Shane! How'd you get that gig?

courtgolf said...

What did her face do when you said that ?

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