June 8 2011
Kip Henley won't be carrying Brian Gay's bag this week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He'll be teeing it up himself in the $5.6 million PGA TOUR event at TPC Southwind.
The 50-year-old Henley earned his spot when he won the Tennessee PGA Section event last fall. He debated whether to take the automatic spot -- particularly given the fact that his boss is a former champ of the FedEx St. Jude Classic -- but finally decided to play and have fun.
Make no mistake. Henley knows what he is doing. He played collegiately at the UT-Chattanooga and won "The Big Break II" competition on the Golf Channel. He worked as a club pro and tried to pursue his own dream of playing on TOUR before opting to work as a caddy.
Henley joked that "low expectations" is the strength of his game right now, although he did say he was a pretty good putter. He admits to have a lot of "apprehension and nervousness" at being so far out of his element.
"I got all my friends around me which kind of helps and kind of hurts, too," Henley said. "I don’t want to embarrass myself and I don’t play much golf anymore."
Henley, whose daughter Stormi will caddy for him, said he'd call the week a success if he can make the cut. At the same time, though, he doesn't want to think too much about playing the weekend.
"Anything short of that and I'll be disappointed but you don't want to talk much about the cut," Henley said. "I tell Brian to talk about winning.
"If a caddy sits there who doesn’t play golf any more and talks about winning, everybody will laugh at me. But if you shoot for the cut then you find yourself falling on the cut number then you usually just miss by one or two if you play good.
"I’m going to try my best to do one shot at a time -- it's the old cliché -- and just try to stay in the now the best I can."
And as for his fellow loopers? Well, don't expect them to give Henley a free pass as he trades places for the week.
"They’re killing me," Henley said, laughing. "They’re relentless. You know the caddies. They’re like used car salesmen. They’re going to come at you 100 mph.
"They’re doing it but I like it. I give it to them, so I’m going to get it back."