Ties That Bind at the Women’s Amateur
It was a team effort as the players (and their very familiar caddies) moved on to the semifinals
By Alan Shipnuck
August 11, 2023
LOS ANGELES—Golf is the loneliest game…except at the 123rd U.S. Women’s Amateur, where boyfriends, brothers, moms and dads have become an integral part of the competition by serving as trusted caddies. Among the loopers for Friday’s quarterfinals were Rachel Heck’s father Robert, Anna Davis’s twin brother Billy, Hailey Borja’s mother Diana and Megan Schofill’s boyfriend C.J. Easley. These intimates know their player’s game and, perhaps more importantly, their psyches. In the crucible of the most prestigious event in the amateur game, in front a national television audience, the soothing presence of a familiar face has helped the players press forward.
“He keeps me loose and relaxed and that’s really important because it’s easy to feel the pressure out there,” Schofill said after beating Davis 2 & 1 in a taut match during which each player made a lone bogey. Davis’s chemistry with her brother was obvious in Friday’s twilight, as they stood on the edge of Bel-Air Country Club’s 17th green while Schofill was sizing up a birdie putt to end the match. The Davis twins weren’t watching their opponent but rather whispering to each other and giggling. Schofill gutted the putt and just like that, Davis, the charismatic 2022 ANWA champion, had been eliminated from her first Women’s Am. But afterward she said she enjoyed the experience and gave grudging credit to her caddie. “It’s always interesting with him,” she said with a laugh.
“We had a good time, it was relaxed,” said Billy, an accomplished golfer who will play for Auburn in the fall, just like his sister.“We’ve had bad experiences in the past with me trying to caddie for her. Like, she’d hit a bad shot and I would say, ‘What are you doing?’ And she’d get mad at me. That didn’t really happen this week.” Although, it must be noted, the key moment in the match was Davis’s errant tee shot on the par-3 16th hole. “Wrong club,” said Billy. And whose fault was that?
“Well,” he said, “she’s the one who pulled the club of the bag, so…”
Anna said she was hoping Schofill would go on to win the Am since they will be teammates in the fall. Schofill’s romance with Easley began three years ago at Auburn and has endured even as he transferred to Ole Miss to finish his playing career. “He understands me and understands the game at a high level,” says Schofill, “so that gives me a lot of trust.”
Rachel Heck can relate: she was Friday’s most dominant performer, dusting Catherine Rao 8 & 6, and she credited some of her renaissance to the comfort of having her father Robert on the bag. “He just knows me so well obviously because he’s my dad,” says Heck. “We just have fun out there. Most of the time we’re not talking about golf at all. We’re sharing funny stories, catching up on life. Because there is not a whole lot of times I get to spend five hours with my dad, so it’s nice to catch up.”
Robert has made various cameos on his daughter’s bag but Hailey Borja’s mom was pressed into emergency duty this week only after the friend Hailey had lined decided to jet to Hawaii instead; this was only Diana’s second time caddying for her daughter. She strode Bel-Air’s hills like a champ, and after a 3 & 2 quarterfinal victory over Kyra Ly, Hailey hailed her mom for helping her survive a grueling week, saying, “The best thing he does is her keeping me hydrated and keeping me snacking and of course just being fuelled on the course.” Moms for the win. Though her daughter has been flummoxed by Diana’s habit of momentarily losing her head covers.
On Saturday, Borja and Schofill will meet in one semi-final while Heck takes on Latanna Stone, who dispatched Thienna Huynh 3 & 2. Stone has hired a Bel-Air caddie for the week. “I like him,” she says, “but I don’t know him that well.”
The USGA is a partner to the Fire Pit Collective but has no editorial oversight.
In 1994, Alan wrote his first cover story for Sports Illustrated as a 21 year-old intern, and in the ensuing quarter-century he typed two dozen more. He is the author of eight books, including best-sellers Bud, Sweat & Tees; The Swinger (with Michael Bamberger); and Phil. Shipnuck has won 13 first-place awards in the annual Golf Writers Association of America writing contest, breaking the record of Dan Jenkins, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Alan lives in Carmel, Cal.