Public Links players getting comfy with local caddies

Camped out under the “Ye Old Caddie Shack” at The Home Course in DuPont, handing out bibs and calmly explaining instructions is Lakewood’s Scotty Overbo, the caddie master for the week.

It doesn’t happen to be just any week – it is the 38th U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links tournament, which is being held for the final time by the United States Golf Association.

Most golfers in the 156-player field bring their own caddies to this public-course national championship. The ones who don’t often request local caddies.

That is where Overbo comes in. Not only is he the caddie master, but he also is the chief recruiter of golf-bag help.

“I have a great relationship with a lot of great young golfers in the area,” said Overbo, a former standout golfer at Washington High School who is now the facilities manager at Tacoma Country and Golf Club.

Overbo first worked in this capacity at the 2007 U.S. Junior Girls Amateur in Lakewood. Because parents are not allowed to caddie at USGA junior events, Overbo was in charge of matching 93 local caddies with golfers.

The pool of caddies needed this week isn’t as extensive – it’s around 30. Overbo started calling prospects starting in May trying to gauge their interest.

He targeted college golfers, such as former Bellarmine Prep star James Feutz, a UNLV junior who is on the bag for Doris Chen, last year’s Public Links runner-up. He also got three current members of the Pacific Lutheran University women’s golf team — Kelly Miller, Kadyn Coltom and Desirae Haselwood — to help.

But he also contacted older adults who caddied at the 2007 U.S. Junior Girls – such as Rob Hoover, the golf coach at Spanaway Lake High School; Tim Morrisey, a men’s club member at The Home Course; and Terry Elvrom, a former bartender from University Place.

And some of the caddies have come from the host site itself, directed by Brent Hathaway.

Overbo said 22 of his caddies are getting full-time work this week.

All of them were required to attend a one-day training session in late June at The Home Course.

“It was just to go over … some of the guidelines,” Overbo said. “Ninety-five percent of our caddies know the rules of golf because they are great players or had caddied before.”

Each caddie receives $50 per day for practice and tournament rounds, plus tips.

As far as pairing up a caddie with a golfer, Overbo said the USGA requires it be selected by random draw.

That’s how Feutz got paired with Chen, the reigning NCAA Division I champion from USC.

There was very little interaction between the two Monday in the first round of stroke play. Feutz said he was consulted on how far some approach shots were when an afternoon breeze kicked up. He was never asked to read any putts, however.

“You need some luck (on caddie selection),” Chen said. “James is a really good caddie. We are both college players … and sometimes I need some information. But I don’t have that much of an expectation; I just need somebody to carry my bag.”

Added Feutz: “Different things go through different players’ minds – and I have stuff that normally goes through my mind on certain shots. But I have to filter what I say. She doesn’t like to hear too much.”

That is a stark contrast to Coltom’s experience with teenage golfer Alice Jo.

“I know some golfers do not want a caddie to start a conversation, but (Jo) told me, ‘If I mess up, I get quiet and upset … so talk to me and help cheer me up,’ ” said Coltom, a Cascade Christian graduate. “I can tell stories, so I knew I could do that.”