Slept in today, went to Tims for some free wi-fi and a double-double and then picked up Mike Mezei from my house with his big tour bag and made the short drive to Scarboro Golf and Country Club, host of this year’s Canadian Tour Championship, and perhaps more importantly, my emergence as a caddy after a decade away.
Was it a success? Hard to say. I maintained the caddie motto of, “Show up, keep up and shut up.” That means I didn’t read any putts, kept the clubs clean and tried to stay out of the way. That’s tougher than it sounds. I’m a chatty guy and Mezei, an aficionado of great golf courses, did talk about places we’d both been. Strangely there was a lot of talk about Morfontaine, a French course that has apparently captured Mezei’s attention.
Right from the start I was in the wrong spot on the first green when Mezei went to putt his eight foot snake for birdie. In other words I was visible. So I tried to disappear, which is tough for a man who weighs 210 and is six feet tall dressed in a green bib. But I found my ways to act like a ghost the rest of the time, or at least Mezei stopped telling me to move. Maybe he just grew frustrated and stopped trying to regulate my movement around the greens. Hard to say. But I did become adept at catching his tossed golf ball, cleaning it and his clubs and keeping his tour bag from falling over (which only happened once).
How’s Mezei do? Pretty damned well. I’d say he mishit one shot all day — a 4-iron into the fifth green that found the bunker. He couldn’t get up and down, despite a classy chip. On the other hand we started on the 8th hole, which is odd. Imagine hitting up a hill to a fairway you can’t see and you’ve got a sense of Scarboro’s old school 8th. I like the hole, but it is a hell of an opener. Mezei smoked his drive and hit a 9-iron close. But he missed the birdie putt. He missed birdie putts on each of the next three holes before slamming one off the flagstick on the 12th, but he made bogey back-to-back on 13 and 14.
The highlight of the round came on the 18th hole, which was mid-round. Mezei hit a great wedge into the green, but it landed just left of the flag and bounded into the bunker.
“The best shot I hit all day and it goes into the bunker,” Mezei said. There might have been some added adjectives, but I’ve taken them out to protect the not-so-innocent. Those words might have been four letters and started with “f”.
Mezei proceeded to hit a great bunker shot and the ball found the bottom of the cup for a birdie, his second in a row, enough to get him back to even on the day. People nearby applaud. They should — it was a great shot. I went to rake the bunker.
Now I’ve read Rick Reilly’s book (or at least that’s where I think I read it — might have been Michael Bamberger’s work about caddying on the European Tour) where he was chewed out by a player for not raking a bunker properly. So I took a lot of time and did what I thought was a good job. Significantly better than the half-assed job I’d do in a round I was playing in. Anyway, Mezei seemed unhappy with it, so he went back to rework it while his playing partners putted out. After putting the finishing touches on the job, he made comment: “I’d give that rake job a B+,” he said. Then, as he walked up the steep slope back to the green, his feet went out from under him and he slid back down into the freshly raked bunker on his tour pro ass.
Mezei is nothing if not resilient, and he popped right back up, a little sheepish, but largely unhurt aside from a nasty grass stain down the back of his resplendent Under Armour trousers.
“It looks like I’m in Grade 3 and just fell off a swing set,” he said, laughing.
I told him it served him right for critiquing my fine bunker job. He agreed.
“It wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked when I got down there,” he replied.
Mezei finished the round at 1-over to put him middle of the pack. He tips it up again tomorrow at 8:50 and I’ll be on the bag once again.