Thursday, June 25, 2015
WHO'S YOUR CADDIE? THAT WOULD BE ME.
I'm always up for trying new things, so when I was given opportunity to caddie in the
Travelers Pro-Am I said, "Hell, yeah, why not?" I mean, there are worse things than
spending five hours on a beautiful golf course, getting fed like a king, and having a
blast with some really great people.
My longtime friend from Boston, Mike Cavanaugh, who is now the hockey coach at
UConn invited me up to Cromwell, CT, home to one of the PGA Tour's most underrated
events. And it was pretty much an All-UConn day as we were joined by athletic
director Warde Manuel, who at 6'5" and about 320 lbs, is one of the biggest human
beings I've ever seen. Manuel was a defensive lineman at Michigan where he was
a teammate of Jim Harbaugh and played for Bo Schembechler. A golf ball in his hands
looks like a Tic-Tac.
Chris Dailey, who has been Geno Auriemma's right-hand woman on the bench for 30
years, was also in the group. Carl Petersson, a grinder on the PGA tour, was our pro for
the day. He went to NC State while I went to UNC, so I had visions of coming to blows
like Happy Gilmore and Bob Barker did during their infamous round on the links.
I played in the Deutche Bank Championship Pro-Am while I was a sportscaster in Boston
and remembered how much fun these events are. The hosts spend an entire year prepping
for these tournaments and they roll out the red carpet for all those playing in them, including
the caddies. The Travelers Pro-Am was off the charts when it came to hospitality and they
fed us like we were royalty--which is one of the main reasons I enjoy these things so much.
And really, these pro-am events have very little to do with golf. They are all about the
camaraderie, food (and drink), and just enjoying the day. I looped for Cavanaugh, who
was a former assistant coach at Boston College for 18 years before getting his first head
coaching gig at UConn. He's a salt-of-the-earth type of guy and a pretty darn good
golfer, too, which made for a pretty easy day on the course, especially when he didn't
have a bag the size of his boss, Warde Manuel. No heavy lifting on this day.
The greens at the TPC River Highlands were undulated and fast. I can read greens
like Walter White deciphers a chemistry periodic table of elements. It took Cavanaugh
a few holes to realize that and trust my green's acumen. Once he did, the guy was like
Jordan Spieth at Augusta, rolling nearly everything in.
As I mentioned, there was great food everywhere, even on the course. This was definitely
my kind of tournament. There were chefs every fourth hole---yeah, chefs! Never seen
anything like as they whipped up crab cake sandwiches, barbeque, and chicken teriyaki.
Best part of the day is when we arrived at the 15th tee---they had a damn wood-fire
pizza truck! Yeah, I'm training for an ironman and I need to watch my calories, but
on this day, all that went out the window. I must've eaten an entire pizza in six minutes.
Food, glorious, food! What a day!
Oh, yeah, back to the golf. The course was immaculate and very fair. By the time our
group walked down the second fairway, the scoreboard posted the leading score of
20-under. 20-under?!! Our group knew there was no chance of winning so everybody
just had fun and enjoyed the day and it turned out to be one helluva great one.