`Caddie for a Day' program fair way to get sore shoulder

October 03, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

PROFESSIONAL golfer Bruce Fleisher was a pretty good sport, considering he had a Schmuck for a caddie and an armed escort during the final pro-am event at the Constellation Energy Classic at Hayfields Country Club.

Fleisher warmed up for the weekend on Thursday by leading a foursome of heavy hitters that included Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (who brought along the security detail), future Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Constellation Energy CEO Mayo Shattuck and high-powered local attorney George Stamos.

Since I couldn't be a fly on the wall, I took advantage of the Champions Tour "Caddie for a Day" program to get into the group.

I didn't know anything about the caddie program until I saw WBAL radio and television personality Steve Davis stagger under the weight of Peter Jacobsen's bag for three holes on Wednesday.

Let's get this on the record right now. I'm not some wimpy broadcast guy who can only carry the clubs until the TV cameras are turned off. I lugged those puppies for 14 holes -- much to the apparent delight of Bruce's regular caddie, Dennis Turning, whose right shoulder got a break on the eve of the Champions Tour event. I would have gone 18 but the groups were moving so slow that they put everyone on carts at that point to finish the pro-am before dark.

OK, so that's how they explained it to me. I'm guessing the reason that Dennis and Bruce took the bag away from me was because they got together and figured out that neither of them knew CPR.

I told Bruce that I wanted to continue and that I was having the time of my life.

"That's because you're a very sick man," he said.

True, but I thought I was doing pretty good until I noticed that caddie Michael Meehan -- a fixture at Caves Valley Country Club -- cheerfully carried two bags the entire distance and wasn't even breathing hard on No. 18. The governor's adviser/caddie, J.P. Scholtes, also was still standing at the end, which couldn't have been easy with Ehrlich hitting everything to the far right side of the fairway.

"Center right," Ehrlich corrected me.

In further fairness to Meehan, Scholtes and another fellow caddie, Brian Faulkner, I also had the advantage of walking straight down the middle of the fairway all day, since I was with the pro, but I was starting to lose altitude when Turning told me to put the bag on a cart. He then lifted me into the cart and we headed for No. 15.

The final four holes were pretty easy. I gave Fleisher a little advice on club selection (I prefer that Baja Beach place on Lombard), told the governor how he could end the slots stalemate (move Maryland to Las Vegas) and, as I always do late in the afternoon, visualized pizza.

Fleisher's fearsome fivesome finished tied for fifth in the pro-am with an 18-under-par 54, netting Bruce a hefty $170 in prize money. Since a pro caddie usually gets 10 percent of the purse and I split the job with Turning, that means I now have a cool $8.50 in tour earnings.

The "Caddie for a Day" idea, by the way, is similar to my own "Schmuck for a Day" program, which allows selected professional athletes to carry my computer bag around all afternoon and eat lunch three times. I offered this reciprocal opportunity to Fleisher, but he inexplicably declined, citing prior obligations that included having a life.

Ripken is becoming a pretty good golfer -- despite the funny picture in The Sun on Friday that showed him hacking out of the underbrush. He is the Constellation Classic's honorary chairman for the second year in a row and obviously is enjoying his retirement -- if you can call it that when he's running a minor league franchise and working with half the youth leagues in Maryland.

Don't be surprised if he turns up in one of those big-time celebrity events one of these days.

If he needs a caddie, however, he'll have to look elsewhere. I'm heading out to spend my winnings ... on Celebrex.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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