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Mark Huber at Pebble Beach

Professional Caddy Mark Huber at the The Pebble Beach First Tee Pro-Am

Posted Jul 12, 2011 by Mark's Kaddy Korner

pebble beach

It was the longest week of my caddy career.

I was on the road and out of Canada before John Cook was crowned the winner. Phone calls, texts and memories of Dad kept me going, it was a long drive to Havana. Somewhere around Columbus, OH I slept in a Walmart parking lot then continued on early Monday morning stopping at my sister’s outside of Champaign, IL for a beer, brat and a quick nap.

Strong families and friends are important in life especially during these times, I had both. We picked each other up, laughed more than we cried, and remembered “Pops” the best we could. The visitation was scheduled for 5 to 7 Tuesday evening, there was an hour and half wait in line, the folks starting coming through at four and we left the funeral home at nine. This was Dad’s seventh inning stretch and it was a long one. I was to do the eulogy at the funeral service but the crowd provided better stories and memories than I could ever tell.

Luckily we were playing Pebble Beach this week, a course Bob and I could play without a yardage book we’d been around it so many times. I booked a flight out of Milwaukee for Thursday afternoon planning to be in San Jose that night and on the practice tee by seven o’clock Friday morning. First, we laid Dad to rest Wednesday afternoon.

He hated suits so Mom dressed him up in an old, blue, Callaway golf shirt and a faded pair of khaki golf shorts. He looked comfortable while we shared memories with the congregation. With my daughter Cassie at my side I shared my thoughts, read stories from Dad’s closest friends until the minister cut me short. I could have gone on forever. We talked about his community service, dedication to family and friends, younger days and of course his flatuation issues, nothing was sacred, then we ended with a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. He was an avid Cub fan, maybe that’s what caused the heart problems.

The Delta agent had no record of my reservation Thursday afternoon; I had booked it for the 14th instead of the 7th. They were great about it, waived all the extra charges but it still cost me half an arm for the flight. Things got worse during my layover in Minneapolis, the flight was delayed over three hours and I didn’t land in San Jose until 10:30. It was a short night; I had to be on the practice tee by 7 a.m.

Luckily, I was staying with old friends in San Jose and the aromatic drive to the Monterrey Peninsula is quite relaxing through the garlic fields, eucalyptus groves and artichoke and avocado farms. Things could be worse but my extended family helped me through the weekend. Peter Jacobsen shared a tear for dad and I can’t tell you how many players and caddies checked on me and the family. Everyone wanted to know how Mom was doing.

The Pebble Beach First Tee Pro-Am is a one of a kind and we all look forward to it each year. We tee it up with two amateurs and a teenager from the First Tee program. The kids are scratch golfers and even better people. Austin Landis, our roly-poly 18 year old, kept calling me sir all weekend until I finally told him to quit. Friday we were paired with a father-son team. It was tough watching their interactions but so enjoyable at the same time. I guess if you’re going to do a little mourning Pebble Beach ain’t a bad spot.

The weather was cold, windy and dreary all week but Pebble was in the best shape ever. Bob shot a respectable 70 Friday morning, we practiced a bit and I headed back to San Jose for much needed rest. I was out on the couch by 7:30. Our late tee time Saturday at Del Monte gave me time to regroup. The short old track can cause nightmares with its tight fairways and slick, unreadable, poannua greens. We hit it good but couldn’t get it in the hole. Another 70 left us tied for 16th but better yet Austin was in the hunt for the kid’s title.

Austin was chasing a young girl for the lead. She was paired with Ben Crenshaw and hadn’t beaten him by nine strokes Friday morning. Ben just shook his head when we asked him about the round. The camaraderie and spirit of this tournament is unmatched on tour. The pros and kids are high-fiving, hugging, laughing and throwing barbs at each other all week. We were skeptical the first year of the event; I’d hate to miss it these days.

We got it to six under early in the round Sunday and had a chance for a top ten finish. Maybe our concentration faltered, or it might have been we were enjoying watching Austin a bit too much. The double cross five iron into the Pacific Ocean on 17 created a smooth five and we limped in at -3 tied for 21st.

Austin finished in style. His mammoth drive settled between the two Cypress trees in the middle of the 18th fairway. I tried to talk him into laying up but he pulled out his driver with a big grin and said, “I’m pretty good at cutting a driver off the deck, watch this!” The ball soared out over the ocean, cut beautifully toward the green and settled just short of the bunker. His gentle pitch shot left him a 20 footer which he calmly ran into the back of the cup. The smile on his rosy red cheeks brought a few tears and there were high fives all around the green. Austin finished second alone and couldn’t have been happier.

I’m exhausted but pleasantly so. Emotions ran amuck this week but it was a good finish. I’ve got next week off, heading for Havana for more time with family then a quick trip to Florida before I fly to London for the Senior British Open. There may not be a Kaddy Korner next week, hopefully I’ll think of something to share.

- Mark Huber

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