All week, Shane Bacon will be at the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore., writing about his experience on the bag for the LPGA's Irene Cho. Stop by each day to read about the happenings from the day's round.
Pro-ams. They're necessary, but it isn't like a day at Six Flags. Anyone that has ever been on the professional side on one of these five-hour nightmares knows a thing or two about what to expect. There are a few stereotypes that you have to be ready for, and some that come out from left field that would even surprise the most grizzled veteran.
When I arrived in Portland to meet up with LPGA star Irene Cho, the first thing she told me was that we'd be playing two practice rounds this week. "Great," I thought. "Two rounds will be perfect to get us accustomed to the ins and outs of her golfing ability (very good) and my caddie ability (I'm like a lifetime .250 hitter)."
Then I found out it was pro-ams. Two of them. 2.
Now, before Monday's first professional and amateur partnership, something that we all know is mandatory because of the partnered struggled between the LPGA and economy, I knew one thing about being a caddie in one of these "tournaments." They are not much fun.
But that didn't turn out to be the case. Not at all. Both our Monday and Wednesday pro-am groups were fantastic, a breath of fresh air in the stuffy Port-A-Potty of pro-am life.
Before I continue, you must realize some of the types of guys you'll meet in these events.
The first is Macho Manny, the dude that shows up knowing he can hit it further than these pesky female professionals, talking on the first tee about "the big dog" and what hole the long-drive competition is on. This is the guy that spends all day trying to swing as hard as possible, wishing that he'd gone with that extra-stiff shaft instead of the stock stiff that they placed in his r9 driver. It's a typical man, and when he quickly realizes that he won't be finding many fairways on these tournament-ready golf courses, the tail tucks between his performance-enhanced glutes, and he hangs out the rest of the day behind the others, wondering what it feels like to be in the short grass.
Then there is Super-Competitive Carl, the man that keeps talking of "winning" and how "we need more birdies." This is a scramble, of course, that is highlighted by the free beer (I may have had one on the course) and the interaction with a girl that rarely misses a shot, but Carl doesn't care. He wants to win, dammit, and if you aren't winning, he's bumming. This is the guy that hangs his head when an iron shot finds the bunker, and scolds himself when the 12-footer for birdie burns the top edge. If Carl's team doesn't have a chance to win, he probably isn't going to stay around for the lunch buffet after the round. It just won't taste as good, he thinks, without that first-place finish.
Finally there is Inquisitive Ian, the guy that isn't nearly as bad as Manny and Carl, but does suck a part of your soul away with his constant questions about the game of golf. "Have you ever met Phil Mickelson?" "Do you have any scoop on Tiger Woods?" "How far do you hit your drive?" "What's the lowest you've ever shot?" "What sponsors do you have?" "Have you ever made out on the 17th hole?" (OK, the last question, not so much.) This guy's entire day is made if he can find out anything and everything about tour life. Hell, he might even ask the caddie some questions.
The good news is, neither of our groups had any of these fellows. Our teams had some fun, and one even won the darn thing, but it was all with smiles and high fives and jokes about me making it to Sunday without a sprained shoulder.
Irene tees off on Friday in the first round of the Safeway with hopes that I might bring her some luck. Cross your fingers, everyone. I'd take a round with all three of the men above to be as good at my job as she is at hers.