LORTON, Va. – Glenn and Joyce Przybylski survived the surprise.
No, not the surprise heat that Mother Nature brought to the first day of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, which began Monday at Laurel Hill Golf Club.
Rewind to 1997 – when a mutual friend set the two up on a blind date. An account executive who worked at Glenn’s company called Joyce with an unusual request: Would she be interested in going on a blind date with one of his co-workers?
Glenn and Joyce talked on the phone and agreed to meet. Though these were the days before Google and social media, Glenn’s picture wouldn’t be hard to find. He had just won the Joliet Amateur in their home state of Illinois and had received some notoriety in the local paper.
“I told her if she wanted to see what I look like she could look at my picture in the paper,” Glenn says with a laugh.
She drove to the gas station and saw a picture in the paper of what would become the missing person in her life. They went on a few dates and soon after, he asked Joyce to caddie for him in the U.S. Amateur Public Links at Kearney Hill Golf Links in Lexington, Ky., under one condition. Could they get there by driving her month-old car down from Chicago?
“That was probably the make-or-break date,” she says with a laugh. The couple still resides in Frankfort, Ill.
It was during a seemingly innocuous moment at the event that Glenn knew he had found his life partner. While working up a sweat hitting shots on the practice range, Joyce approached with two lemonades in hand. She stood by her man in the blazing heat for hours and watched as he worked on his game, pounding shots both good and bad.
“I thought, ‘OK, this girl … I definitely have to keep her,’ ” Glenn remembers.
They were married in 2000 and the wife-caddie-husband-player relationship has endured from the start, as both knew what to expect early.
“I knew right away [on] the second [date] because she’s very ambitious and outgoing and I wasn’t as much. Her personality was the selling point,” Glenn says.
Joyce chuckled at the comment. “And he had really nice legs,” she said.
On the national stage, she’s been on the bag for Glenn’s two appearances at the APL, and his three starts at the U.S. Mid-Amateur. She’s using a push-cart this week, but her dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed. The question of who worked harder on Monday is a toss-up; both came off the course with their golf attire drenched from the high humidity. Glenn logged an opening-day, 4-over 74. And Joyce passed the endurance test.
“She’s doing a great job. This golf course is a bear to walk, let alone push clubs. It’s very warm,” Glenn said.
The player-caddie relationship is atypical of any other employer-employee situation. In addition to the physically burdensome duty of carrying a cumbersome golf bag around, there are certain dynamics a caddie must appreciate, such as when to speak up and, perhaps more importantly, when to stay silent.
That’s when Joyce understands it’s helpful to know her player—on the course and off.
“I can read him. He’s the same at home as he is on the course. I can tell when something is bothering him. I can try to talk him through it or around it,” she says with a smile. “I’m able to realize when he needs to take a deep breath and clear his head a little bit. He knows when I might need to push the cart a couple of minutes.”
Glenn will occasionally ask his wife to read greens, and prior to this week’s event, she diagramed the breaks on the putting surfaces. But her primary role is keeping Glenn even-keeled.
“She’s more of a relaxing comfort to me,” said Glenn, who was nine shots back of early first-round leader Garrett Rank. “If I start getting edgy, she’ll say something to call me down. I’m pretty even-keeled, but inside I’m grinding.”
Both admit the strength of their bond is having an appreciation for one another’s interests. Joyce gains great satisfaction from being a financial cost accountant for StarCon, a construction company where she manages a $100 million region with 17 people reporting to her on a regular basis. For Glenn, golf is his passion; when the work day is over, he heads straight to the course to play, practice or both.
They coordinate their vacation time so Glenn can play in amateur events in Florida or in national championships. This week, Glenn, 46, is a mid-amateur in a field filled with young players.
“We’re just trying to have a good time as we’re getting older,” he says “This is kind of a bonus for us. We look at this [event] and these kids could be our children. We’re just trying to keep up with them.”
For all of Glenn’s skill, Joyce is the only one to own a hole-in-one, though he made a double eagle at an event last year, holing out his 8-iron approach on a par 5. As far as Joyce is concerned there is no debate as to who holds the upper hand when comparing the accomplishments.
“I’m 1 up,” she laughs.
Andrew Blair is director of communications for the Virginia State Golf Association. He is assisting the USGA this week at the APL.