Caddieing is in their family

By Eric Schmoldt
Published on

ERIN, Wis. -- "Your line is that center bunker."

That was the first of countless instructions from Janesville's Phil Quade as we stepped up to our first tee box at Erin Hills on a recent afternoon.

Nearly five hours later, Quade was able to rattle off a slew of other specific statistics kept on the watch-like device strapped to his wrist. In 297 minutes, we walked 6.8 miles--shorter than usual!--and his heart rate averaged 105 while burning 1,739 calories over 17,581 steps.

Just a day in the life of one of about 90 caddies at Erin Hills, a course that sits about a 75-minute drive northeast of Janesville and will host the 2017 U.S. Open.

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Quade, 48, has made the loop around the 18-hole links-style course nearly twice a weekend for the past three summers. His son, Korey, 20, caddies nearly every day on the course which might end up playing the longest in Open history.

"It's been great. To be able to caddie out there and just walk out on a course where it's in an area where you can't hear anybody or anything is amazing," Korey Quade said. "I think even the players are really going to respect this course and want to come back and play it again.

"I think it'll get everybody to know Erin Hills is out there."

Three years ago, the Quades were in the same boat as many Wisconsinites. Just nine years old and having not yet played host to major tournaments like Whistling Straits, Erin Hills will use the 2017 showcase event to help put it on the map.

For Phil Quade, it represented an opportunity to try something new. He's worked at GOEX for 24 years and is now a training coordinator.

"GOEX is a great company and I love working there. But I thought, 'If I ever want to do something else someday, what would it be? Something in golf,'" he said.

Thus, the new caddie adventure began. Quade called on an advertisement for caddies at Erin Hills, went through an interview process and training, made three loops and was ready to start his new weekend gig.

"If I would've been younger when I started, I would've probably been a caddie and pushed it all the way to making the tour," he said. "Even now, you never know, when you look at Jordan Spieth and his caddie.

"I just love the game. I started playing in seventh grade and played for Parker in high school."

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Korey Quade grew up around the game of golf, as well, and graduated from Janesville Craig in 2013, the same year his father started to caddie.

When he turned 18, he joined Phil in the caddie barn.

"You have to learn a lot of stuff," Korey said. "It's not a walk in the park by any means. You have to know all the yardages so you're not always looking at your book. You have to know the greens because you're always giving your players reads.

"But for the most part it's just a great time and great to be out there. I love golf."

Phil and Korey also enjoy caddieing because they meet people from all walks off life.

They've caddied for blues musician Jonny Lang and Garrett Graham--a tight end for the Houston Texans who played at Wisconsin. Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby was part of a group Korey caddied for one day.

They also see a wide range of incredible golf shots and have seen Erin Hills in different weather conditions and seasons.

The father and son caddied for a father-and-son grouping on Father's Day this year. And almost two weeks ago, Korey made the seven-mile trip around the course twice, caddieing 36 holes for the first time.

"I got through it. It's a really tough walk to do 36 in a day," he said. "It was about 20 miles. When you get to that second round, to the eighth hole, when you're trucking up that hill you start feeling it pretty good.

"I definitely was not in good enough shape when I first started training. They took me out for nine holes, and that was something in itself. It took me a good month to really get into it where I can not be so exhausted."

Phil's latest goal is updating his yardage book with a digital map of every green so he knows the exact slope and direction. He's through six holes thus far.

He wonders if he might parlay his experience into caddieing for an amateur at the U.S. Open.

"I think about it and talk about it here and there," Phil says of caddieing professionally. "I'm not going to leave my job anytime soon. But if somebody came up to me and asked me to carry their bag on tour ... I would."

Korey just might pursue the endeavor a little harder. He's thinking of a move to Florida or Arizona where he can caddie year-round.

"You can definitely make a career out of it if you work at it, make a name of yourself and people like you," he said.

For now, Janesville's father-son caddie duo will continue enjoying the trek to Erin Hills. It's about a nine-hour day from the time they leave town to the time they get back, if they make the loop in about five hours.

And they'll continue to pile up the experience--along with their steps and burned calories.

This article was written by Eric Schmoldt from The Janesville Gazette, Wis. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.