PINEHURST, N.C. – As the temperature reached toward the mid-90’s at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club on Tuesday, LPGA Tour caddie Greg Sheridan was following his player Natalie Gulbis off the practice putting green.
They had just finished a practice round as well as some work on the range and putting green afterwards in preparation for the upcoming 2014 U.S. Women’s Open that starts first-round play on Thursday on Course No 2.
Yes, that Course No. 2 that was redone by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and one which Gulbis is looking forward to playing and making her 13th appearance in the national championship tournament.
As Gulbis was flanked by dozens of autograph seekers, Sheridan provided some insight on his 32-year career in carrying the bag for professional golfers that have included Christie Kerr, Beth Daniel, and Kathy Whitworth.
“What’s changed mostly is that we work a lot harder,” Sheridan said with a smile.
“They practice a lot more than anybody ever did. It’s not uncommon for them to play 18 holes, practice and hour before and two hours after. We’’re puttin’ in seven, eight, nine hour days now.”
Much of those long days are spent carrying a golf bag, usually a well-decorated and stiched leather cart bag with sponsor logos that include the player’s clubs, balls, gloves, apparel, snacks and more that pushes its weight to 30 pounds or more.
In between intervals of carrying that bag throughout the day, Sheridan, like other caddies, assists Gulbis to manage her way around the course and literally taking a physical load off here back, while also cleaning a ball or club, looking up yardages, and providing input on club selection.
In the end, regardless of his opinion though, it’s Gulbis’ call.
“She’s the player – she makes the final decision whether it’s my input or not,” Sheridan said.
“She’s gotta’ swing and hit the shot.”
Having worked together for 10 years, Sheridan knows the type of courses that appeal to his player’s eye and the type of game she’s been successful on.
With the challenge that No. 2 will present to this week’s 156-player field, Sheridan believes that it will indeed be a tough week for everyone, but knows what Gulbis is capable of.
“She seems to play the hard courses better,” Sheridan said.
“Where even par is a good score, she usually can finish top-10. If it’s a birdie-fest and people are shootin’ it, 64, 63, 65 on Sundays – we usually don’t play that well. She plays the tougher courses better, so I like it when par is a great score.”