As I have made clear in this space over the life of the My 2 Sense blog, playing and watching sports has always been a big part of my life.
Beginning at an early age, basketball, baseball, football, and even soccer, were all in my wheelhouse. One sport that was not however, was golf. I guess the reason for that was my father was not a player. Golf showed up on my radar when I began hanging around with a friend in Junior High. His family lived and breathed the game, so much so that their beloved family dog was named “Bogey”. They also happened to belong to a golf club that I had never heard of, but would luckily soon be acquainted with, Baltusrol.
I first set foot on the grounds of the historic golf club in Springfield, New Jersey in 1982, when my buddy asked me if I wanted to make a few bucks. He had been going over to the club early in the morning that summer to caddy for members. I knew very little about caddying, but was intrigued the idea of earning some money, so, I joined him one day. I recall us getting out of his mom’s car and finding a place to sit on a fence that surrounded the practice putting green, just behind the 1st hole of the lower course. There we waited with a large group of gentlemen for the caddymaster to assign us a couple of bags for a loop. Well, as you can imagine, the new kid on the block was passed over time and time again that first day, whereas my friend, who knew the caddymaster, went out pretty quickly. When I was finally summoned, I was lucky enough to be partnered with a veteran caddy who took me under his wing. What I got was a walking lesson in everything from: where to position myself when players were teeing off, to how and when to tend the pin, to help with locating the distance markers on each hole, and even where to find the shadiest spots to get out of the sun for a minute. I’m pretty sure I was of no help to anyone that first trip around Baltusrol, but thanks to my caddy that day, I certainly got better with each subsequent time out. Thank you, whoever you are!
Caddying was not the only thing I got to experience at Baltusrol however. At the great club, which has hosted seven U.S. Opens, four U.S. Amateur Championships, two U.S. Women’s Opens, two U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships, and one PGA Championship, I learned how to play the game! Caddy day afforded me the opportunity to play rounds, and my friend and I took full advantage of it. Imagine a 14 year-old golf novice playing the same course Jack Nicklaus had won the U.S. Open on just two years earlier. And, speaking of the U.S. Open, when the 1985 Women’s Open was played at the club, I had the thrill of working as a scorer on the third hole. That was undoubtedly a cool way to spend a week that summer.
The last time I was at Baltusrol was 2005, for the final round of the PGA Championship (won by Phil Mickelson). Some pretty amazing memories came back to me as I made my way around the course that day. So, while it does not look like I will get to a round this year, I hope the folks who do enjoy their time at the club half as much as I ever did.
And that is My 2 Sense for this week.