PGA Tour players, caddies shoot hoops at legendary Hoosier Gym

PGA Tour players, caddies shoot hoops at legendary Hoosier Gym

PGA Tour

PGA Tour players, caddies shoot hoops at legendary Hoosier Gym

CARMEL, Ind. – Austin Johnson figures he’s watched the movie Hoosiers at least 10 times.

“It’s one of my all-time favorites,” he said.

So when he got an email from fellow caddie John Wood, he jumped at the chance to visit Hoosier Gym, home of the Hickory Huskers, in Knightstown, Ind., on Tuesday night.

Four years ago, Wood had a day off ahead of the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick and was looking for something to do and discovered that the gym, made famous by the 1986 cult classic starring Gene Hackman as Coach Norman Dale, was just 45 minutes away and welcomed visitors.

“I went over by myself. It was an unbelievable experience,” Wood recalled. “I figured if we ever came back I’d ask if you could rent out the whole thing and they said yes.”

More than a dozen caddies joined Wood this time, including pros Bubba Watson and Bill Haas. Neither of the potential Ryder Cup captain’s picks played in the pickup game to avoid any sprained ankles or more serious injuries, but that didn’t prevent Haas from showing off his deft shooting touch.

“Haas’s jumper is butter,” Wood said. “He was canning threes like Ray Allen.”

From the theme song playing over the loud speaker to changing in the locker room where Coach Dale tells his team “I love you guys,” the gymnasium is a museum to another time, when unheralded Milan High School won the 1954 Indiana State Championship.

“You feel like the guys are going to come out in Chuck Taylors and start playing with you,” Wood said. “Nothing has changed. I thought we’d shoot around and take a quick tour but the guys got into it.”

Johnson, who works for his brother Dustin and whose grandfather played basketball at South Carolina and is inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, dunked a few times. But it was Jordan Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller, who stole the show.

“Greller went full Jimmy Chitwood with the uniform and short shorts,” Wood said. “I knew it was his favorite movie and had a hunch he’d do something like that.”

It worked. Greller won every game of knockout.

“I don’t whether it was talent or if he was channeling (the spirit of) Jimmy Chitwood,” Johnson said, “but he was the big winner.”

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