U.S. MID-AMATEUR
Wednesday Notebook: Local Caddie Lends Hand September 28, 2010 By Stuart Hall

Todd Burgan rode the experience of Atlantic Golf Club veteran caddie Skerving Godfrey to a spot in the U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinals. (Robert Walker/USGA)

Bridgehampton, N.Y. -- Todd Burgan woke Wednesday to the possibility of playing at least 52 holes — the completion of his third-round match against Tim Jackson and then quarterfinal and semifinal rounds.

Burgan admits to never having played three rounds in one day.

Not so for Skerving Godfrey, a local legend around Atlantic Golf Club. Members know him as Tommy G, a sturdy 55-year-old looper from Jamaica. Some call him the Godfather because of his seniority among the club’s caddie ranks.

He’s been here since before the sand traps, said Rocco Casero, the club’s caddie master.

With Godfrey, err, Tommy G, it’s hard to tell myth from truth.

Myth: Tommy G made a shelter and lived near the bridge on the 13th hole during Atlantic’s construction in 1991. Fact: Godfrey took residence in a building meant for the maintenance crew — until he was caught.

Casero said that in August, when the club logs about 140 rounds a weekend day, club caddies occasionally pick up a third round late in the afternoon. Godfrey says he has done three rounds, but it can be grueling, especially when you are carrying two bags on your shoulder, he said.

Godfrey started looping in 1973. His mother, Sister, would sell foods to hotels and courses around the island. A man named Lou Gunn convinced Godfrey to start caddieing. In 1989, he came to the United States, taking up residence in the Bronx, where his wife and 13 children live. Godfrey works a fairly normal five-day work week, his off days being Monday-Tuesday, and he heads back into the city.

I’ve seen him carry a bag, hop in his car, go visit his family and be back the next morning, a fellow caddie said.

Burgan was paired with Godfrey by good fortune, and credits him for a lot of his success this week. Heading into Wednesday’s semifinals, Burgan was the lone remaining player to have an Atlantic Golf Club caddie on his bag.

When I arrived and checked in, I was told I had the club’s best caddie, Burgan said. Then four others told me the same thing. I knew after about eight holes that they were right, and he certainly has not let the club members down this week.

After a while I knew he knew this course and started putting where he told me. Even if I read something one way and he reads it differently, I trust him. And that can be a great thing during this week because it frees me up to just hit the shot.

Regardless of Burgan’s outcome, Godfrey’s mythical status has been elevated.

They call him G for many reasons, Casero said.

After this week, G for good may no longer suffice.

Tough Opponent

It was hard not to notice on the left side of the 64-player U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship match-play tree the name Nathan Smith. Two-time champion of the event, a Walker Cup member.

Anthony Barrera knew that if seeding held true, then he would have to face Smith in the quarterfinals en route to the scheduled 36-hole final. Wednesday, that meeting occurred, though the result, a 3-and-2 loss, road-blocked Barrera’s march.

He’s good, and that’s why he’s the champ, said Barrera on his way to the parking lot.

Prior to this week, Smith had totaled 17 matches in his U.S. Mid-Amateur, Amateur and Walker Cup career. Barrera? One — a first-round loss in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship earlier this summer.

If nothing else, Barrera, 26, of San Jose, Calif., is now 3-2 in his USGA career.

I wish I could have given [Smith] a better match, but that’s the way it goes, Barrera said. What makes [Smith] so good is that his misses are good. He is so experienced that even if he can’t make the right shot, he misses in the right place so he can get up and down.

Barrera said he would take away plenty of experience and moments from his stay in Bridgehampton, including a loss to a two-time champion.

Stuart Hall is a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA championship websites.