PERHAPS the easiest way to shave strokes off your golf score is to partner with a good caddie. A healthy marriage between player and caddie is usually essential to have any significant success at the professional level, but what about the amateur weekend golfer? Is it beneficial for he or she to use a friend or family member as a caddie during tournament play?
Let’s say you advance deep into the New Hampshire Amateur Championship, but one of your golf buddies is eliminated early in match play. Should you bring him on as your caddie? Or would you be better off by continuing to go it alone?
Keep in mind that a good caddie does a lot more than carry a player’s golf bag. Caddies can also be helpful in the following areas:
• Course knowledge
• Shot selection
• Reading greens
• Boosting a golfer’s morale (especially after a bad shot)
James Pleat had his father Phil caddie for him when he won last year’s State Am at Nashua Country Club, where both Pleats are members. Phil joined his son after he was knocked out of the tournament.
Derryfield Country Club’s Tara Watt said she rarely plays in a meaningful tournament without longtime caddie Bob Mickle, who served as her caddie when she won last year’s NHWGA Amateur Championship.
“I’d say for probably the past eight years he’s caddied in every State Am I’ve played in, the New Englands, he’s done the mid-am, my qualifier for the USGA — he’s done everything,” Watt said. “Before every round, I tell him I need you for this, this and this, but mostly for me I like to not think about golf when I’m out there, so it’s helpful to have someone to talk to.
“Golf is such a mental sport you’re constantly thinking about the next shot. He also provides a lot of positive affirmation. Sometimes it’s something as simple as reminding me to ‘Trust the club.’”
“For me, having a caddie, especially when I was younger, was invaluable,” added Beaver Meadow Golf Club’s Jim Cilley, who won the NHGA Amateur Championship in 2011. “Having someone to talk to can distract you from the pressure of the situation, and if they’re someone you play with regularly, they understand your game, especially on the greens.
“If you have a caddie who doesn’t understand how you putt or what you see on the greens, it’s tough to trust them. I’ve been fortunate to have some great caddies in all my wins. When I won the 2008 (NHGA) mid-am, my friend, Eric Trottier, who was the assistant at Pheasant Ridge, caddied for me and he kept me relaxed, mostly commenting on how his shadow looked like Shrek.
“In 2011, when I won the (NHGA Amateur championship) I was fortunate to have 2005 state am champ Craig Cyr on the bag. Craig was a fantastic green reader and there were multiple times he helped me, including wearing pants in the final that had one black pant leg and one white one. He looked ridiculous, but took some of the attention off me.”
Watt estimated that having Mickle as her caddie is worth anywhere from three to five strokes per round. They have had their issues on the course, however.
“Back in the day, when he first started caddying for me, we had what I’ll call an episode on the golf course,” Watt recalled, “I said, ‘I’m gonna hit this club,’ and he said, ‘No, you should hit this.’ I was like OK, fine. I hit it and I dumped it in a hazard. I don’t think we spoke for three holes.”
In recent years, Cilley has had his friend Wayne Farmer caddie for him during big events. He said a good caddie can be extremely helpful, but stressed that there are situations when having a caddie can hurt an amateur player’s game as well.
“My dad used to try to caddie for me and I think they were the only times I missed cuts,” he said. “Not because he did anything wrong, but more so that he tried so hard to help and say the right thing that I was always on edge and maybe didn’t focus as well as I would have liked to. I think wanting to do well for him also put underlying pressure on me and that prohibited my success. We figured it out and it’s been more enjoyable for us both for him to just be a spectator.”
Mitchell Cormier (Keene CC) and Sam Timmer (Youth on Course) won the NHGA Junior Team championship Tuesday by beating Sam Maurice and Jeremy Burke in a one-hole playoff at Crotched Mountain Golf Club.
The teams were even with nine holes remaining in regulation, but Cormier and Timmer made double bogey on the 10th hole and trailed by four shots before rallying. Cormier and Timmer forced a playoff with a birdie on the 18th hole.
“We had two putts at it,” Timmer said. “The way we played on the last four holes, we were confident one would go in, and we tried to stay focused.”
Former Gilford resident Mark Baldwin is among those who entered the Korn Ferry Tour’s Live and Work in Maine Open, a 72-hole tournament that concludes today at Falmouth Country Club. This is the first pro tournament held in Maine since 1993, the final year of the Ben Hogan Tour’s New England Classic, which was held at the Woodlands Club in Falmouth.
Baldwin attended Gilford High School before he transferred to the New Hampton School. He played golf at Notre Dame — he was the Big East Player of the Year in 2005 — and turned pro in 2006. His first professional victory came in the New Hampshire Open.
A reminder that registration remains open for the NHWGA Junior Championship that will be played Thursday at Beaver Meadow Golf Course. Girls ages 5 to 17 of all playing abilities are welcome. The $20 registration fee includes lunch and a welcoming gift valued at $70.
Those interested can register at NHWGA.org (click on events). Anyone with questions about the tournament can contact Diana Gauthier at 603-504-2049.
Rules question: In stroke play, a player strikes the sand in frustration with his or her club after the ball remains in the bunker following the first attempt to hit it out. What is the ruling? (Continue reading for the answer.)
The final round of the Seacoast Amateur Golf Championship will be held Sunday at Portsmouth Country Club. The leaders are scheduled to tee off last, and will likely begin their round a little before 11 a.m.
Londonderry resident Jim Browning made a hole-in-one Monday with a 5-iron on the 165-yard, par-3 ninth hole at Londonderry Country Club. The shot was witnessed by his son Carter Browning and friends Kiet Totten and Nathan Marshall.
Answer to rules question: There is no penalty. Striking the sand in frustration or anger is not a penalty as long as the player has not improved the conditions affecting the stroke. (Rule 12.2b).
Source: USGA Rules of Golf.
NH Golf Calendar
June 27: NHGA State Am qualifier (Beaver Meadow GC)
June 28: Hoodkroft Junior Open
June 28: NHGA State Am qualifier (Abenaqui CC)
June 28: NHGA State Am qualifier (Maplewood GC)
June 28-30: New England Women’s Amateur (Agawam Hunt/East Providence, R.I.)
June 29: NHGA State Am qualifier (Loudon CC)
June 30: Junior Tour (Owl’s Nest)
July 1: NHWGA Junior Championship (Beaver Meadow GC)
July 1: Mini Series (Rockingham CC)
July 6-7: Junior All-Star Championship (Mt. Washington Resort GC)
July 8: Junior Tour (Candia Woods)
July 12-17: NHGA Amateur Championship (North Conway CC)
July 19-21: Mike Ryan Memorial Championship (Derryfield CC)
July 20-22: New England Amateur (Great River Golf Club/Milford, Conn.)
July 22: Junior Tour (Keene CC)
July 26: Junior Tour (Breakfast Hill GC)
July 27: Junior Tour (Loudon CC)
Aug. 2-4: Junior Championship (Pease GC)
Aug. 2-4: NHWGA Amateur Championship (Laconia CC)
Aug. 15-17: New England Junior Amateur (Val Halla Golf Course/Cumberland, Maine)
Aug. 19: Junior Inv. (TBA)
Sept. 14-15: New England Senior Amateur (Manchester Country Club/Manchester, Vt.)