I'm sure I seem to you like a guy who doesn't miss a major golf championship when it is played at a course five minutes (on a bike) from his home, and it turns out I didn't miss the first round of the 2022 US Open golf championship yesterday. Generously invited to attend by my friend Curtis, we two aging hackers with mediocre backs stumbled around the course for a while, trying to find a good location to watch the action, until we found the par 5 8th hole grandstand, where we could watch famous people in slacks and hats that proclaim which major corporation is sponsoring them hit approach shots, and chip and putt to finish the hole.
After a couple of hours, my friend Curtis felt like he needed to get up and walk. There was a threesome teeing off on the 15th, just behind us, and once they had played their shots the officials dropped ropes and let people pass through, until the threesome coming off the 14 arrived, whereupon they put up ropes again just before we arrived at the crossing. So, Curtis and I were caught there at the 15th tee
This seemed like a hole that was clearly concocted for the US Open. The length of it, a par 4 at more than 500 yards, couldn't have been the regular tee box for members. It would take a drive of 280 yards just to make the fairway, and the tiny real estate that the tee box was comprised of suggested it had been horseshoed in for a major championship. As a result, we were inches from the players and their caddies.
When you watch golf on TV, you usually see huge galleries at the tee, but that's because the networks show you the best players, with fans that follow them around the course. If I can paint with broad brush strokes for a second, I would guess that the American contingent of PGA touring pros is made of up of lots of Christian family-men – guys like Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler – probably Republicans, certainly guys who don't go raising hell the night before playing in a golf tournament. But the group at the 15th were people I had never heard of before – Ryan Gerard and Jesse Mueller, and a third guy named Brady Calkins.
There was a backup ahead, so the caddies and golfers at the 15th started making small talk about where they were staying and the crazy traffic and trolleys going by their windows. I couldn't help but notice that the caddy for Calkins was young and was dipping Copenhagen chewing tobacco, talking smack with Brady like he was a drinking buddy rather than an employee, which is what professional caddies are. Most notably, the golf bag he was carrying was tiny compared to the wardrobe-sized bags that everyone else on the course was using. It was like his boss had played hooky from work to hack around with his buds on a municipal course, grabbing clubs he had bought second hand, and looking for the drinks cart to pass so he could grab a can of local craft beer. It seemed so unlike the players you hear about all the time that I couldn't help but search him up on the interweb, which is how I found this article about Brady in Golf Digest.
Brady Calkins: maybe a Christian, maybe Republican, but at this point in his career definitely not a family man who seeks to get a good night's sleep before he tees off in a major championship.