Henley now has veteran caddie

sports@macon.comJune 9, 2014 

Masters Golf

Russell Henley watches his shot out of the rough off the first fairway during the fourth round of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Augusta.

DAVID J. PHILLIP — AP

Fans of golfer Jack Nicklaus are probably familiar with the name Angelo Argea, who worked as his caddie for more than 20 years.

He was on the Golden Bear’s bag for more than 40 wins, including U.S. Opens, PGA Championships and British Open titles. But he never worked one of Nicklaus’ Masters wins. He missed all six because the Masters didn’t allow players to bring their own caddies until 1983, and Argea was retired by then.

For the most part, caddies are nameless faces unless you work for Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. Woods currently has Joe LaCava on his bag and previously employed Stevie Williams and Mike “Fluff” Cowan but fired both. Williams, a New Zealander, now works with Adam Scott of Australia, while Cowan is with Jim Furyk. Mickelson has had former Columbus State golfer Jim “Bones” McKay as his caddie for more than 20 years.

The name Adam Hayes probably isn’t as recognizable, but he has been a caddie in the professional ranks for more than a dozen years and is currently the looper for Macon native Russell Henley and is with him at Pinehurst No. 2 for this week’s U.S. Open. He is the third caddie in Henley’s professional career and by far the most experienced.

Henley’s brother, Adam Henley, served as his caddie during most of his time on the Web.com circuit, as well his two appearances in the U.S. Open while playing as an amateur. Family commitments, including two small children, forced Adam Henley to give it up in June 2012.

Henley then hooked up with Pebble Beach club caddie Todd Gjesvold, who was on his bag for his first PGA Tour win in Hawaii in January 2013. Gjesvold stayed with Russell until Hayes took over at the Memorial a little more than a year ago.

Hayes has an extensive golfing background as both a player and a caddie. The Rockledge, Florida, native played collegiately at Brevard Junior College and then at Central Florida. He then spent a little more than a half a year on the Hooters Tour before joining the caddie ranks. He started out on the LPGA circuit, working for Charlotta Sorenstam, Annika’s younger sister, and Wendy Ward. After three years, he moved to the PGA, first working for Augusta’s Vaughn Taylor for five years and then for Jonathan Byrd for the next five. He was with Taylor for both of his tour wins, as well as Taylor’s Ryder Cup appearance in 2008. He also was with Byrd for his two PGA victories.

He says his current boss is a solid top-50 in the world right now and has the game to be a top-25 player. He said he has all the tools, and when he gets into contention he is not scared of any situation.

Hayes said Henley played his best golf -- since Hayes has been on his bag -- at the TPC Players Championship in Sawgrass last month when he finished 17th. Hayes said Henley calls on him very little for help in lining up his putts because he has such a great feel on the greens, but when he is indecisive on club selection or target lines will get his advice.

Hayes is an officer in the newly formed Association of Professional Tour Caddies, serving as the group’s secretary. The APTC was formed to help caddies secure a health care plan for themselves and their families, to promote a retirement plan and to work on a program for a more consistent treatment of caddies at tour stops. Hayes said some events are great while others leave a lot to be desired.

In terms of payment, the general rule is that caddies are on a salary plus a varied percentage of the winnings based on finish.

Hayes said the worst part of his job is being away from his family, which includes a wife and two children. He is on the road about 25 weeks a year but usually gets home for a day each week, even when Henley plays back to back weeks. Hayes calls working as a caddie his life’s work and hopes to be doing it until he is at least 50.

Bobby Pope is the executive director of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Email him at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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