Paul Richards is caddying for George Zahringer at the USGA Senior Amateur at The Beverly Country Club in Chicago. Richards will file daily reports for Golfweek.com detailing his experience on the bag and inside the ropes.
CHICAGO – In my long and ‘illustrious’ (cough, cough) caddie career, the best score I can recall looping for was a 66 by Duke Delcher, who at that time played on the PGA Tour, but has since regained his amateur status. If memory serves me correctly, he shot a pair of 33s during that round. He was such a nice guy that he actually asked me to go on Tour with him as his caddie. However, I wasn’t prepared to quit college for that life – so it was, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Soon after Beverly reopened following Ron Prichard’s 2004 restoration, I hosted a friend, Dan Jennings, who has been club champion at Los Angeles Country Club multiple times. Jennings played college golf at Arizona for the national championship team that included Jim Furyk. Jennings scraped away his 6-inch par putt on the first green – so his score is unofficial – but he still recorded seven birdies with just one bogey . . . and that was from the tips! His 65 would have been the new course record, except for that scrape-away, of course.
Today was the first round of match-play at the USGA Senior Amateur. George was paired against John Benson, a nice fellow from Punxsutawney, Pa. George started strong with a par at No. 1 and a 18-footer for birdie at No. 2. He two-putted for par at the third, and a par at No. 4 left him 3-up in the match. At No. 7, his second shot reached the left greenside bunker and, almost impossibly, George proceeded to hole out his third shot for eagle. At No. 9, his wedge approach ended up 12 inches away and his birdie was conceded. He was 5 up after a front-nine 32.
This was undoubtedly the best ball-striking nine holes of golf I have ever seen as a caddie. George hit eveny green in regulation and only missed one fairway, the second – yet still made birdie. I feel his confidence in my green-reading ability is growing.
At No. 10, George left his birdie putt short, dead on line – despite an acorn that fell just as he started his backstroke and bounced next to his ball. This was just another demonstration of George’s intense concentration. A few missed shots on Nos. 11-13 left the door open for a comeback by Benson. But George’s 7-iron shot to 18 feet at No. 15 closed out the match.
What amazed me today, besides his scorching 32 on the front, was the fact that despite the shortish nature of the set-up and the slower greens, the USGA did a fantastic job of finding interesting pin positions on these Donald Ross greens that have tested the players thoroughly.
Our match tomorrow begins at 9:03 a.m. The USGA has disallowed caddies from wearing golf shoes, so I switched to my jogging shoes. Despite having survived 36 hole a day in Ireland for eight days in June with the golf spikes, I am collecting blisters all over with these jogging shoes. Time to rest these tired feet!