Brand New Bag

August 23, 1998

Plenty of ballplayers retire to the golf course, but how many
become caddies? Every year since I quit playing baseball in
1993, I have carried my buddy Larry Ziegler's bag a time or two
on the Senior tour. On one of my first attempts, Larry decided
to give me a hard time. He held a ball out, then let it drop
just short of my hand. Later he winged one off my knee and said,
"Hey, I thought third basemen could catch." The gallery loved
our shenanigans.

Things got serious at this year's St. Luke's Classic. Larry was
in the lead when I arrived on Sunday to caddie the final round.
He had won only one tournament since 1976, and even that was
seven years ago. Suddenly here he was in the final group, trying
to close out a victory with me on his bag. Now, I'm not tuned in
enough to pick clubs or give golf advice. I knew that to have
any value out there I'd have to keep Larry from being nervous.
There was just one catch: Who'd keep me from being nervous?

I was keeping things light, talking away about baseball and my
kids, while he lined up a 50-foot putt from the fringe on the
back nine. He said, "Flag it for me." I had no idea what he
meant.

"Flag it?"

"Go up there and put your hand on the flagstick," Larry said,
"like the real caddies do."

"Oh." I did what he said, and as the ball came toward me, I felt
every muscle in my body go absolutely rigid. I was sure that if
I tried to pull the flag, the whole cup would come out of the
ground with it. Luckily for me, the putt veered off a few feet,
and I was saved an embarrassment that would have been on every
highlights show that night. Instead you saw Larry winning the
tournament.

Playing golf is humbling, but caddying is worse. I might look
foolish playing the game, too, but at least I get to hit the
ball.

At a Sept. 22 outing in Augusta, Mo., Ziegler will caddie for
Brett.

COLOR PHOTO: ELI REICHMAN [George Brett wearing caddie uniform and holding golf clubs]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)