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.”
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.