Chattanooga, Tenn. – In the summer of 2005, Barry Smith was told by Bobby Collins, his caddiemaster at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., to take a ride over to the neighboring Apawamis Club, where the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur was being conducted to see if he could pick up some work.
When Smith, then 52, arrived, he learned that one player in particular needed a caddie.
“Unbeknown to me,” said Diane Lang Saturday after shooting 7-over-par 79 in the first round of the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur at The Honors Course, “the caddies there were betting on players to make the cut. No one wanted to take my bag. They didn’t think I’d make the cut.”
That’s when a lone voice volunteered his services. “I’ll do it,” said Smith meekly. Smith would carry her bag if she would have him. It’s turned out quite well. Not only did Lang make the cut; she rambled through six matches to win her first of three USGA Senior Women’s Amateur titles.
By the time she made the cut that year, Smith said, the Apawamis Club caddies were begging to take over. Especially the Jamaican loopers who had found out Lang was born in their home country. The then 50-year-old Lang would have none of it, telling the Apawamis caddiemaster that they couldn’t pay her to get rid of Smith. Little did either of them know, but it was the start of a blossoming relationship that still features Smith on her bag today.
In all, Smith has caddied eight championships for Lang – all on his own dime. Smith, who caddies at Westchester from April through October and then at Ocean Forest Golf Club between November and April, spends most of his time in his hometown of Brunswick, Ga. When he learns of a championship Lang will play in, more times than not he will hop in his car and drive. The only time he flew was in 2007, to Oregon. On that trip, after renting a car, he drove six hours the wrong way. When he showed up at Bandon Dunes, someone pointed out that Sunriver (Ore.) Country Club, where the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur was to be played, was on the other side of the state. He still made it in time.
Smith has driven to Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons Island, Ga., Tulsa Country Club, The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va., Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla. and now here.
“This is like my vacation,” said Smith. “Most of the time I break even. I’ve seen a lot of the country that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen. It breaks the boredom for me. … But I like to drive. When I drove in Oregon I saw the deepest valleys and highest mountains.”
It’s Smith’s unflappable demeanor that appeals to Lang. She’s comfortable with him because he’s been with her at all three USGA Senior Women’s Amateur victories.
“We’re going to be together until the day I die, or he does,” said Lang.
To which a laughing Smith quipped, “Well, she just needs to keep winning then.”
Ken Klavon is the USGA’s online editor. E-mail him for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.