When Ben Crenshaw decided to play a limited schedule on the PGA Senior Tour in 2012, he released his caddy. With the first event of the 2012 season approaching, Crenshaw turned to a family friend and Austin golfer George Covert and said, “How would you like to go to Hawaii and caddy for me in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship?” Covert’s response of “Sure”, occurred at the speed of a downhill, downwind putt at the Masters. So, as friends and golfers will do, the two families went to Kona, Hawaii for a vacation and a little golf. Here are a few comments from George Covert about the experience…..
We arrived Saturday at the Four Seasons Hualalai in Kona, on the big island of Hawaii. My anticipation of an incredible week was validated when we arrived at the resort. The entrance, with it's with manicured grounds and landscaping, was awesome. As we drove down the road I began to see glimpses of the golf course. I thought to myself " Finally, I am here" which was immedialty followed by " I can't wait to tee it up with my friend and childhood idol Ben Crenshaw."
We checked into the hotel around 2:00 p.m. local time and headed to the pool to enjoy a much needed beverage after ten hours of travel. Around 5:00 p.m. we headed back to our room to clean up and meet the Crenshaws for dinner.
My wife Laura and I arrived at the restaurant a couple of minutes late and to my suprise the Crenshaw's were with another couple. As we got closer I recognized who the other couple was and said to myself "Holy smoke, that's Tom Watson!" I took a deep breath and just smiled! Laura knew who Mr. Watson was but she didn't know that he has won five British Open Championships, two Masters and one U. S. Open Championship. Needless to say I was in awe of the situation. So, we had dinner with the Watsons and Crenshaws. The night was fantastic and Tom and his wife could not have been nicer to Laura and I.
The next morning (Sunday) I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and thought to myself, "This is going to be a long morning" and tried to go back to sleep. I woke up about every 30 minutes thereafter and finally got out of bed at 7:00. Ben and I headed to Starbucks for some java and then to the course. We arrived around 7:45.
Although I was going to caddy for Ben in the tournament, I was scheduled to play a couple of casual rounds with him prior to the beginning of tournament play. After all, it's a family vacation with a little golf thrown in. I was full of anticipation about the day and hopeful about my own level of play.
We walked into the players locker room at the tournament site and I noticed there is something different about the situation. Every locker has a name on it, just like at my club, but the names are a little different. These lockers are labeled Tom Watson, Bernard Langer, Tom Lehman, Fred Couples , Curtis Strange, Kenny Perry and so on. It was was a somewhat surreal moment for me.
Ben and I changed into our shoes and headed up to the range. We position ourselves next to Curtis Strange and Ben introduced me to Curtis. Then we began to hit balls and I am a bit nervous. After all, I am sandwiched in between two of my golf idols. I have visions of Kevin Costner playing Roy McAvoy in the movie Tin Cup and the scene of him on the practice tee at the U.S. Open when he had difficulty making solid contact with the ball. The visions dissapear and was hitting the ball just fine.
Hitting balls next to Curtis Strange and Ben was going great and I thought to myself " Wouldn't it be nice to play with Curtis also!" After about 30 minutes of warming up, Ben says "George, are your ready?, then adds, "Curtis, would you like to come join us?" Curtis says "I'd love to" and I think to myself, "Damn, this is going to be a great day."
To my surprise I was somewhat calm on the tee box. My drive was a tad left of fairway but in a good position. I reached the green in two and had a 25 footer for birdie. Putting is on or off for me and most days it's off. We didn't hit a single practice putt today so was unsure of the speed of the greens. Sure enough, I knocked my first putt five feet past the hole and precede to pull my par putt for a 3 putt bogey.
We played on and it was great playing with those guys and being on a course in Hawaii. The day ended with me shooting 76 and losing 2 dollars to both Ben and Curtis. It was the best four bucks I ever spent. What a great first day and what treat Curtis was. He was so nice and down to earth, truly a gentleman. Needless to say, Ben was his usual charming and gracious self and a pleasure to be around.
We played another round the next day with the same pairing and I played better, shooting 70 with a double bogey. I was stoked and felt good about that experience.
The caddying began the next day. I had the pleasure of watching some great golf and being around all those great players. The caddies were a hoot and I got some insight into their passion for the game. I truly enjoyed the experience of caddying for Ben and being inside the ropes at a professional tournament. The families had a great vacation and it was an experience we will all remember.