BY MIKE FIELDS
When Will Stamm signed up to caddie in the Barbasol Championship pro-am that was held a few weeks ago, he was hoping to make a few bucks to add to his savings for a new set of golf clubs.
Stamm wound up with much more than that. The Beechwood High School freshman had a priceless experience that he and his mom will never forget.
Stamm first heard about the opportunity to caddie in the Barbasol Championship when Brad Hicks, the club pro at Champions at Keene Trace, sent an email to high school and college golf coaches looking for caddies to work the pro-am portion of the PGA TOUR event.
Stamm got the information from Ryan Booth, his golf coach at Beechwood.
Stamm, 14, had never caddied before, but he liked the idea of getting inside the ropes, walking the fairways during a big-time pro tournament, and, of course, making a little cash for some new clubs.
Stamm wound up serving as a caddie for Trey Cahill, one of the four amateurs who played with Hall of Famer Davis Love III for the first nine holes of the pro-am on that sun-splashed Wednesday afternoon.
When Love’s group reached the 7th hole, Cahill stepped aside and let Stamm hit his tee shot for him.
Using a 7-iron on the 137-yard par 3, Stamm’s ball landed on the front of the green and rolled rapidly toward the hole. It glanced off the flagstick and stopped 12 feet away.
Cathy Smith, Will’s mom, recalled the reaction from the other golfers.
“When the ball hit the pin, there was a huge eruption from these grown men cheering for this 14-year-old kid, hitting him on the back and congratulating him,” she said. “It immediately brought me to tears.”
The best was yet to come.
When they reached the green, the other players and their caddies stepped aside, leaving Stamm and Love, who had stuck his tee shot 5 feet from the cup, on center stage.
Stamm confessed he was nervous when he stepped up to his birdie putt. “I was shaking,” he said.
Despite his jitters, Stamm sank the putt, prompting more cheers from his group, and a memorable high-five from Love.
“Nothing could have prepared me for that,” Will’s mom said. “I cried again.”
Brian Lane, who coaches basketball and golf at Transylvania, captured Stamm’s tee shot and putt on video with his phone. (Lane’s sons Harrison and Henry were also caddies in Love’s pro-am group, along with Jack Bergstrom.)
Lane sent the videos to Stamm and his mom, who’ve shared them with family and friends.
When Stamm told his Beechwood teammates about making a birdie in the company of a Hall of Famer, they didn’t believe him. “So I had to send them the video,” he said with a laugh.
Hicks, of course, was delighted to hear Stamm’s story. When he signed up 80 caddies (most of them in high school and college) to work the pro-am, he was hoping they would enjoy themselves.
“The pro-am is one of the biggest parts of a PGA TOUR event,” Hicks said. “No other sport offers a chance to be right there on the same ‘field’ as the professional athletes.
“And giving back is such a big thing with the PGA TOUR, so letting these kids be part of it is so cool.”
Lane said he appreciated the way Love, his caddie and the amateur players interacted with the young caddies and let them take a few swings.
Cathy Smith was over the moon with how the Barbasol Championship pro-am played out for her son.
“What Will came away with was 100 times the experience we were expecting,” she said. “It was amazing.”