The U.S. Junior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. All rely heavily on volunteers. And if the USGA has a Volunteer of the Year award, a prime candidate is winner Scottie Scheffler’s caddie, David Harmon.
A resident of the California town of Cool, about an hour’s drive west of Truckee and the Martis Camp golf course on which this year’s Junior Amateur was contested, the “largely retired” Harmon is a member of the Auburn Lake Trails Golf Club. A year ago he caddied at U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at the Lake Merced Golf Club, near San Francisco. When he heard that the 2013 U.S. Junior would be held at nearby Martis Camp, he again volunteered.
“The next thing that happened is that I got an e-mail from Scottie’s mother,” recalls Harmon, “and when she said OK, it was then up to the player and caddie to agree to work together from there on out.”
During the 36-hole finals, many in the gallery were mystified as Harmon lagged behind his player, struggling to keep up with his counterpart of Davis Riley’s bag, USGA officials and even the crowd. Scheffler occasionally ran back to the clearly gassed Harmon, grabbed the clubs he needed, and ran back to his ball. After the match, the champion praised his looper, albeit with a left-handed compliment. (And, we of course cut 17-year-olds slack when it comes to eloquence.)
“He’s probably the best caddie I ever had because he was probably the worst caddie, honestly. I mean, we talked, but he wasn’t telling me how to play shots. Sometimes I start playing a little too quick when I’m nervous, but I couldn’t with him. I’d get to the ball, I’d get my yardage and prepare for the shot. (Then) he would show up, I would grab the club and shoot.”
Well, Harmon was indeed struggling to keep up. Then again, he hasn’t played golf in two months because of a shoulder injury, is facing surgery on it in two weeks, and won’t play again for a half-year. He had blisters on his feet during the final. The Martis Camp course sits at an altitude of nearly 6,000 feet, and runs up and down mountainous terrain. But including a pair of practice sessions, the 73-year-old Harmon ground it all the way out with Scheffler’s bag on his shoulder, for 11 rounds in eight days!
The man from Cool was clearly the coolest cat on the course, if not the toughest stud in the entire tournament.