by Dave Andrews
One of the great pleasures I have had in becoming a big fan of the women’s professional game has been the chance to caddie for young pros from around the world. It has been an opportunity to see the perspectives of players from many different countries about the game that they all have in common. Close to 30 different countries are represented by players on the Symetra and LPGA tours.
In the last ten years I have caddied for players on the Symetra Tour and the LPGA who have come from South Korea, Sweden, France, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Thailand and Latvia, as well as many from all over the United States. Regardless of where they come from, one thing is certain… they all share the passion and determination to take their games to the highest level. It is inspiring to see the amount of time they spend practicing in the days leading up to their events each week.
My two most recent experiences in caddying for international players have come this spring on the Symetra Tour when I worked for Emelie Lindskog from Halmstad, Sweden and for Anaelle Carnet from Jura, France. Both Emelie and Anaelle are rookies on the tour, and they both advanced to the final stage of LPGA Q School last December. They failed to earn their LPGA cards for the 2015 season so they are now playing fulltime on the Symetra Tour, hoping to finish the season in the top 10 on the tour’s money list and earn their LPGA cards that way for the 2016 season. If not, they will go through the Q School process again in the fall.
While caddying for players you have a lot of time together outside of the actual tournament rounds. While having lunch or casually practicing on the range or the putting green you have time for conversations with them. It is then when you find out more about their lives and their interests outside of golf.
For example, Emelie, who is in her mid-20’s, is recently engaged to a young American professional golfer she met five years ago when he was in Sweden. He is now trying to make his way to the PGA Tour. Their busy schedules, crisscrossing the United States to play in their separate events, keeps them apart often during the season. Their shared love of the game will always be a special bond between them.
During one of the weeks I caddied for Emelie in Charlotte, North Carolina, her fiancé happened to have an event in nearby Greenville, South Carolina. He was able to join her in Charlotte for a few days and to watch her play in one of the rounds. It was easy to see that they were meant to be together.
Anaelle is a very young professional golfer. She just turned 21 the week before I caddied for her in a U S Women’s Open qualifier in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her car is packed with golf gear and clothes as she drives all over the United States this season from one Symetra Tour event to another. It has to be an exciting, and perhaps a little intimidating, adventure for this young woman in a new country where a 12-hour drive from one event to the next is not uncommon.
I first met Anaelle at a Symetra Tour event in Florida when she happened to play in the same group as another player for whom I was caddying that week. She later asked me if I could caddie for her in her Open qualifier. I was very impressed with her game and immediately accepted the offer. She comes from a small town a few hours southeast of Paris, not far from the French Alps. She said she grew up skiing but she has given up that sport in favor of golf which she first started playing seriously when she was 14.
Her broken English is charming. My high school French is very poor. She does her yardages on the course in meters instead of yards. So we had a few communication problems out on the course when selecting clubs to hit and reading putts, but that was all offset by the pleasure of working with such a friendly and beautiful young woman.
Many players, pros or amateurs, will often talk to their ball when it is in flight or rolling on the green. You will hear them instinctively yell “Go!” or “Sit!” or “Get in!” in a vain attempt to influence the ball’s course. Emelie and Anaelle are no different in this humorous quirk shared by almost everyone who plays the game. But in their cases they would usually talk to their ball in their native tongue, Swedish or French, leaving me to wonder exactly what they were saying to their ball. I would often chuckle to myself and wonder if sometimes they were swearing, like I often do when one of my shots doesn’t go where I want. Golf can be infuriating sometimes, no matter what country you come from or how good a player you are.
Both Emelie and Anaelle have the talent to reach their goal of playing on the LPGA. It is a long process for most of the players who finally realize their dream. I have seen that dream in the faces of many young players, from many different countries, over the years. Regardless of where they come from or what language they speak, it is easy to understand what motivates them. You can read it in their eyes when they are on the course.
Dave Andrews is a retired television news reporter. He is also an avid golfer who has become a big fan of the LPGA and the Symetra Tour.
He is the author of Pops and Sunshine, a novel and screenplay about a young woman pro’s dream and struggle to make it to the LPGA.
The screenplay has been optioned by a production company in Hollywood. The novel is available at Kindle Ebooks.
Follow Dave online on Twitter @PopsandSunshine
Also by Dave Andrews
A caddy’s view of Canada’s Henderson sisters on their way to LPGA success.
Inside the ropes at the unique Patty Berg Memorial where LPGA Legends play alongside the future stars of the Symetra and LPGA Tours.
The rich history of the South Atlantic Women’s Amateur Golf Championship (The SALLY) where winners seem to automatically become multiple LPGA and Major Championship winners.