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July 9, 2013

A new perspective

Caddy’s-eye view different for locals

While there weren’t any residents of Murray or Whitfield counties competing in Monday’s U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifying tournament at Dalton Golf & Country Club, there were still local golfers on the course.

Dylan Coffey, a 2010 graduate of Dalton High School, and Ethan Hayes, a rising junior at Northwest Whitfield, both caddied during the muggy tournament that ended with nine qualifiers and two alternates headed to the U.S. Women’s Amateur later this summer in Charleston, S.C.

While most of the players had family members or coaches serving as caddies, Middle Tennessee State University sophomore Avery George chose to have Hayes as her caddy, and Coffey would have been part of the biggest story of the tournament had 13-year-old Duluth resident Leiko Niwano qualified. Niwano was the youngest player in the tournament and finished with a 22-over-par 94 as the course played at 6,439 yards and par 72.

“We were in the clubhouse one day and (DGCC staff members) just asked us if we would be interested in caddying for the qualifier,” Coffey said. “We had nothing else to do, so we thought we would do it when they asked. I caddied when I worked at Atlanta Athletic Club and a little bit over in Tuscaloosa.”

Hayes had the same excitement when asked to be part of the tournament.

“When they asked, I told them I would love to do it,” he said. “It was my first time caddying for anybody, but it was really a lot of fun.”

Both Hayes and Coffey have played in tournaments across the Southeast, and having to face a golf course with very little preparation time can be an extreme challenge. Both caddies were able to provide a lot of local knowledge of the course to their players.

“That was sort of the reason that I really wanted to do it was to help them out and give them the best opportunity to succeed,” Hayes said. “I have played this course a lot and was able to tell her where she wanted to put the ball and places she wanted to avoid. Having that local knowledge about a course can help a golfer out in a lot of ways.”

Gaining a new perspective on the game was a learning experience for both. Taking a loop on the bag gave them a chance to see the game from a completely different view. Coffey, especially, found himself turning into a cheerleader for Niwano.

“She had a rough day, but she is only 13,” he said. “That was pretty incredible. She had some rough holes, but there were some tough conditions out there. It was just wet out there, but it was a lot of fun to see a lot of the different approaches to the game.”

With the new perspective, Hayes said he gained a better appreciation of the sport and saw things he could apply to his own game.

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