Planet Golf — 17 February 2014 by Jim Street
Walsh becomes caddy-for-a-day at AT&T

An offer to be a caddy-for-a-day during the third round of the recent AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was too good for Ted Walsh to pass up. It turned out to be an unforgettable 51st birthday for the Mariners’ visiting clubhouse manager at Safeco Field and ardent golfer at Seattle’s Sand Point Country Club.

“It was a great experience and I’d love to go back every year,” said a relaxed Walsh after a nine-hole round at Sand Point CC.

He was far from relaxed four days earlier, when he arrived at the Del Monte Lodge at Pebble Beach to meet up with his celebrity partner, Harris Barton, a former offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers.

Walsh, who formerly worked for the 49ers, and Barton, a first-round draft choice in 1987, have been long-time friends.

“I visited family and friends in the Bay Area during the Christmas holiday and was talking with Harris when he mentioned that he was playing in the AT&T tournament. He said if I wanted to caddy for him on Saturday, ‘I have a spot for you,’” Walsh recalled.

“I told him that it didn’t look like I would be going to spring training (with the Mariners) so I’m in.”

The popular and unique event is played over three Monterey Bay courses – Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Club and Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course. Each pro and his amateur partner are guaranteed to play three rounds.

Walsh was a spectator on Friday, watching the Barton group play Pebble Beach. That’s where he met the remainder of the foursome, which included professionals Greg Owen from England and Scott Langley, a left-hander from Illinois, and Langley’s amateur partner Peyton Manning.

“I was really nervous,” Walsh recalled of his first-ever caddy experience. “I definitely had some butterflies because I didn’t want to screw up.”

Ted Walsh and Peyton Manning at the AT&T

Ted Walsh and Peyton Manning at the AT&T

But the nerves calmed down to a minor flutter when the pro caddies said they would handle the reads on the green, remove and replace the flags.

The Barton foursome was assigned to play spectacular Spyglass on Saturday, teeing off at 8:22 a.m. on No. 10 – immediately after Phil Mickelson’s foursome – that included former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — hit their tee shots. Walsh said the Mickelson gallery was the largest of the day at Spyglass.

Walsh said he concentrated on “etiquette stuff” such tasks as making sure Barton’s stand-down bag would not be knocked to the ground by a sudden gust of wind at an inopportune moment, although the bag he carried was so heavy that it might have taken a hurricane to knock it over.

“I carry my own bag at home and it’s nothing compared to Harris’ bag,” Walsh said. “We had a three-hour weather delay right after we teed off on No. 1. During the delay, I cleaned out his bag a lot. I threw away a lot of waters and Gatorade. He must have thought he was going to lose a lot of balls. There must have been 50 balls in the bag.”

The prolonged delay gave Walsh an opportunity to chat with Manning.

“He is a really nice guy,” Walsh said. “He couldn’t have been more cordial or more down to earth.”

One subject not discussed was the Super Bowl, which had been played the previous Sunday.

“We mostly talked about baseball,” Walsh said. “We talked about Todd Helton, a good buddy who played for the Rockies, and his close relationship with the Colts’ clubhouse guys. He said he makes a speaker-phone call every Tuesday and it pretty much turns into a ‘rag-session’. He’s just a lot of fun to be around.”

The Langley-Manning duo shot a 64 on Saturday for a three-round 16-under, but missed the cut by three shots. The Langley-Barton duo started the tournament with a 63 on Thursday at Monterey Peninsula, but fell out of contention with back-to-back 71’s at Pebble Beach and Spyglass.

“It was a lot of fun and I got to meet a lot of pros and celebrities,” Walsh said.

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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