The Barracuda Championship Week
Day 3 of my journal caddying for Mark Baldwin at the Barracuda Championship
By Ryan French
I was sitting outside of a storage garage where a man who looked like Santa Claus (his words) was stitching new logos on Mark Baldwin’s shirt. Caddying takes you to some wild places.
Mark had planned on a quiet Wednesday; because of his lack of sleep Monday and Tuesday, he expected to hit a few balls and relax. This is one of the main things that players learn over time—to rest when necessary. I was talking to Tour player Michael Gellerman on the range this morning, and he said, “When you get out here, you feel like you have to grind, but you have to listen to your body and rest when you need to.”
On Tuesday, Mark had moved from a hotel in downtown Reno to an apartment above a follower’s garage (more on this later). I was still downtown for one more night and then joined Mark at the apartment on Wednesday.
I played in the pro-am at 7 a.m. with Joel Dahmen, and Mark slept in and came to the range around the time my round was finishing up.
Dahmen and his caddie, Geno Bonnalie, were as good as you would expect them to be in a pro-am: funny, engaged, witty and just all-around good guys. And I want to include an unreal stat on Geno. He holds the world record for most golf holes played in a week (not joking—Guinness approved), and he has held it for more than 10 years. The course had to measure more than 6,200 yards to qualify, but he could take a cart. Joel asked us to guess, but we were all way too low. It’s 2,000 holes. Seriously.
Mark had texted me during the round that he was looking to get his clubs regripped, but there is a grip shortage and he wasn’t able to. He headed to the range, and I met him after my round finished up. Mark worked through his bag. He then got to his 3-wood and, as I said in the last blog, Mark is very long. He doesn’t hit his 3-wood often because he can fly his 2-iron around 270. But we had talked about using the 3-wood on a few holes, so he wanted to hit a few extra with it. He just wasn’t consistent with it, and after he got done, we discussed that with the elevation, 2-iron would be plenty, and we wouldn’t use the 3-wood. These are the kind of conversations that happen up and down the range.
After that, Mark moved to the putting and chipping area, and things were going as planned until he got a phone call. Mark has a friend who is an agent who helps him out from time to time, and he said a company was interested in putting its logo on his shirt for the week. It also sent some diapers and wine to his wife, Sarah, and their son, Miles. Only one problem: It was Wednesday afternoon, and we were teeing off in 18 hours. Mark finished up his putting, and we headed to the apartment to figure out the logistics. (Shout-out to GoPuff for supporting Mark.)
On the way back to the apartment, Mark asked me to reach out to Scott Fawcett (editor’s note: Fawcett created the DECADE Course Management System) about a couple of holes on the course that we had strategy questions on. Scott was nice enough to jump on a Zoom call with Mark and address his questions. That was really cool and great to have Scott discuss in detail the play.
Mark’s friend called back and said they had found an embroiderer to get the logos on, but he was in Carson City, more than an hour away. Mark offered to go, but I insisted he rest. He texted me the address and sent me off with his shirts for the week. When I got to the address, all I saw were storage garages. I called the number Mark had given me, and the man who answered assured me I was at the right place and told me his “company” was located in garage No. 5. When I got there, he opened the garage part way. Out walked a man who looked exactly like Santa Claus; he was sporting a red T-shirt and suspenders. In fact, he sent Mark’s friend a text after we were done saying that if he ever needed a Santa Claus for an event, he would be happy to do it. I waited around for 40 minutes, and then he delivered the logoed shirts to me in the car.
It is really huge for guys like Mark to get such an opportunity because it helps so much financially. Mark gets a small bonus from Srixon for Monday qualifying, and now he was getting some sponsorship from GoPuff.
I headed back to the apartment. We organized the bag, marked his balls with his MB, and mapped out the pins in the yardage book.
The studio apartment is above a garage, with the coolest collection of license plates on the stairs. Mark has a bed, and I am on an air mattress. It has a small kitchen and a TV. It’s perfect for what we need; it is also free. There are just amazing people in the golf world.
We talked quickly through the wake-up times, and we are now headed to bed. Time for the real stuff on Thursday. Mark is playing well; now we need that to continue. At 8:40, we get after it. I can’t wait.