Magenta Shores CC, March 29-31, 2024

HAYES: Being a Bagman Brings New Perspective

Today at “work” for me was epic.

My very understanding boss gave me a leave pass from “normal” duties to go and “do something different”.

Ten minutes later, I had, in professional golfing parlance, “found myself a bag”.

I was particularly lucky to walk to a friend Jordy O’Brien, who, by virtue of her good play this summer, found herself in a great draw. And I don’t just mean exceptional golfers, I mean lovely people, too.

So it was with Jordy, outstanding amateur Sarah Hammett and nominal tournament favourite Momoka Kobori that I set off as WPGA caddie, living the dream of many old hacks (of both the journo and golf varieties).

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Even though there are none at Tuncurry Golf Club, to be “inside the ropes” is akin to finding a Willie Wonka ticket if you’re a golf nerd.

Don’t get me wrong, Jordy – with extreme wisdom – didn’t want any “guidance”, not even with a simple number from the range finder. Smart girl, this O’Brien character.

But she didn’t exactly employ the “shut up and keep up” philosophy some caddies cop; my instructions were to keep talking with her and have fun.

I actually thought Jordy knew me better because the latter half of that request was a given as soon as she agreed to have me along for the ride.

I provided on request her yardage book and range finder, cleaned her ball – a lot given it was preferred lies and the greens were soft after torrential rain overnight – and was responsible for re-racking her sticks once used.

She had sufficient confidence in my “knowledge” – and our friendship – to accept feedback on what I’d seen after the fact, plus my thoughts on direction and strength changes in the light but gusting breeze.

I stuffed up a few times – forgot to give her ball back on the green twice after cleaning it and later dropped her putter cover inside the bowels of her bag.

Jordy laughed at the first two, but told me the third offence was “sackable” and that it would cost me my entire day’s pay given she had to contort herself to retrieve it.

But anyone who knows Jordy is fully aware she’s far too nice to be malicious.

Given that my own game has such gross limitations, to be even distantly involved with such lovely golf makes for a special day.

People sometimes ask whether it’s better to watch elite men or elite women play golf and my answer occasionally oscillates, but tends to the women predominantly. Watching Jordy and her mates play up close simply reinforces why.

The women rarely overpower the course, regularly hitting the lengths of the very best male club players.

But without mincing words, they just get it in the hole so much faster.

We didn’t look for one ball and combined to rake a grand total of one bunker for the round.

It’s golf, but not as I play it.

So this is heaven.

Hayes 1920 20230324 Womens NSW Open RD1 2039
There’s three jobs to get right as a caddy; turn up, keep up and shut up.

Jordy plays with great hands, regularly getting up and down with the great surety. She would probably like to go back out and replay the par-5s – she played the five of them one over the card in her two-over-par 75 – because even if she takes three shots off she’d have been in red numbers and in the top 10.

Sarah is a special talent. She’s still just 16 and heavily involved at the pointy end of her schooling on the Gold Coast. But when she comes out to play – and she has a happy knack of doing very well south of the border – she’s rarely far from the action.

Sarah sprayed a couple of approaches, but generally is a flusher and had she not left about six putts kick-in range from the cup, her round of one-under 72 could have been anything.

And I’m far from the first to say that Momoka is very, very good.

The well credentialled Kiwi bends the ball in both directions to suit the hole, has great escape skills if things go awry and was made to pay with bogeys for each of the two poor shots she played all day in her “almost exemplary” 70.

She even blew fellow pro, partner and caddie Kerry Mountcastle’s mind when she played a long bunker shot to kick-in birdie range on the par-5 11th. Us caddies (!!!) just shook our heads and said sand maestro Jordan Spieth would have been proud to call the shot his own.

What a day. What a great experience. Thanks to all the women, but particularly Jordy for letting me reinforce my opinions and just generally have a fun time doing something I love.

Oh, and thanks to my boss – you go all right, too!

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