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Heatwave at the US Senior Open

Professional Caddy Mark Huber's behind the scenes look at the Tournament

Posted Aug 03, 2011 by Mark's Kaddy Korner

Hey All,
Heathrow is no fun coming or going. I thought it was going to be smooth sailing Sunday evening but there was a two hour delay dropping off the rental car; Bob misplaced his passport and thought I had it in the hat bag, and I didn’t eat till after midnight before claiming my spot on the hotel room floor. The 4:30 wake-up call for my 7:45 flight came early but I wanted to be first in line for a bulkhead seat with more leg room.

That’s where the trouble began and I was labelled a security risk, watched closely by airport personnel, searched twice, questioned extensively and had my passport held until I boarded the plane. The extra leg room was worth it and I slept peacefully while the flight attendants kept an eye on me. I landed in Flint, MI at 2:30 jumped in my Indian van and headed for Toledo. Kevin Archer, my Marriot connection hooked me up with a nice, clean, inexpensive room and I made a quick pit stop before walking Inverness.

Back to back majors are a pain in the posterior especially when travelling across the pond and dealing with the USGA (US God Assn.). At Walton Heath caddies were treated with a touch of respect, at Inverness I took one step inside the locker room door and security immediately tossed me. Bob said, “Remember you’re back to being a dog this week”. In England we were allowed full use of the locker room, go figure.

Thankfully the Inverness members provided a nice air-conditioned tent with continental breakfast and a lunch buffet catered by Carraba’s. The caddy volunteers, members, players, spectators were badmouthing the USGA almost as much as we were. Most of the complaints were about course set-up, communication, clubhouse meals and that air of superiority inflicted from the USGA ivory tower.

Inverness is a Donald Ross gem and the USGA destroyed its integrity when they rerouted the course. I’m not quite sure why folks want to mess with a masterpiece. Inverness is competing for the 2020 U.S. Open and the USGA is making the club jump through hoops claiming the course isn’t large enough for an Open. Toledo and Inverness are perfect, the crowds are supportive, the course is challenging and 2020 would be the 100th year anniversary of the first Open at Inverness. They’ve held approximately ten majors over the years and know what they’re doing.

Rains softened the course, the treacherous greens were slow and receptive but still difficult to putt, read and judge how irons would respond when landing I walked nine holes late Monday afternoon, we played nine and I walked nine Tuesday, then we played 18 Wednesday and I roamed around later reconnoitering a few strategic holes. Walton Heath had a tough finishing stretch; Inverness was just as challenging the last six holes. We never really got comfortable with the greens, struggled with the putter, leaving a bunch short in the jaws. I heard one caddy tell his player, “I’ve never seen the cup come to the ball, get it there would’ya!”

Thank the golfing Gods for Bob, the Dorr Street Café owner, longtime Inverness member and caddy volunteer. He provided cold malt beverages, homemade food, dark cool atmosphere, and course information about a par 5 from the clubhouse. The Indian van wouldn’t make it back to the Comfort Inn without a quick stop every afternoon. I can remember hotter days on tour but not many hotter weeks, the Café was a welcomed respite after each round, I had to replenish my liquids, you know.

Bob struggled but never gave up all week. His body was feeling better with Fred Funk’s help. They rented a house with Mike Goodes and Fred’s wife said the living room looked like a MASH unit every night. They forgot to rehab the putter and we barely made the cut.

With all the qualifiers in the Senior U.S. Open the field is rather weak but the cut is only top 60 and ties. After our late afternoon Thursday round, a light dinner with my Detroit buddies at the Café, a cold shower we were +1 and the cut was looking like +4. We were scheduled for an 8:50 tee time Friday morning, a quick, good night’s sleep was important; I nearly went over from heat exhaustion Thursday afternoon.

A few caddies required medical treatment, one ended up in the hospital and the USGA officials wouldn’t let some struggling “loopers” take off their cumbersome bibs. They were the first to allow shorts back in the mid 90’s but we’re still pulling teeth for other accoutrements. The USGA does a lot of wonderful things for golf, especially junior golf, but we’re not on their radar.

After a three hour rain delay Friday we finally finished up late in the afternoon. Coming down the stretch I was thinking the cut was going to be four over, and if I’d have known the cut was staying at +2, maybe my tennies’ would have been shaking. We made the cut on the number after the field finished Saturday morning and we were the second twosome off. A quicker pace of play was nice but exhausting.

I was missing about ten pounds after we finished Sunday and our two doubles didn’t help the bank account. I thought we might have a 68 in the bag Sunday but a splash on 12 and a poor, almost shanked, sand wedge from the middle of the 18th fairway cost us four shots leaving us pretty close to DFL (Dead %#@*%&@ Last). We’re close again, our score may not seem like it, but next week at Minneapolis might be a good one.

Bob headed for Wounded Warriors outing, hosted by Vince Gill in Aspen, CO with a few players and I loaded up Bob Tway’s bag heading for Chicago and Milwaukee for a little work and a visit with my daughter, Cassie. He was on a Lear Jet, I was in my loaded down Indian van but feeling good, can’t wait to get to the North woods and closer to home. A couple days of R&R will do us both good. The 3M Tournament in Blaine, MN next week is free, come on out, watch some good golf and look me up.

- Mark Huber

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