PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Teenager Jeffrey Aronson lucked into a thrilling opportunity at the U.S. Open: caddie for a practice round.
Aronson, a 13-year-old junior golfer who just finished seventh grade back home in Los Angeles, was with his mother, Shelly, watching players on the putting green Sunday when amateur Russell Henley approached him to see if he would carry his bag for Monday’s round at Pebble Beach.
“It’s a great way to kick off the summer,” Aronson said. “I’ll do whatever he needs, get range balls and carry his bags. It’s perfect.”
That was a no-brainer for a kid who picked up his first clubs at age 2. Now, he’s a first-time caddie.
About a half-hour before Henley was set to tee off Monday, Aronson stood at the driving range soaking it all in when Davis Love III struck up a conversation.
“I did not imagine it at all,” said Aronson, who is at the Open only Monday and Tuesday. “I’m so happy right now, living in the moment.”
Henley made a quick call to the USGA to make sure it was OK to use Aronson, then it was a go. Henley’s few requests for Aronson included enjoying the scenery and experience just as he will while playing Pebble Beach for the first time. The University of Georgia star was named Southeastern Conference Golfer of the Year in his junior season this year.
The 21-year-old Henley was a Ben Hogan Award finalist and won his Open sectional qualifying site in Roswell, Ga.
Henley’s older brother, Adam, was set to arrive from their home in Macon, Ga., on Monday night to caddie the rest of the week on the spectacular oceanside course.
“I just figured I would grab somebody to carry my bag like my brother does,” Henley said. “Why not? I saw him at the putting green. If I was 13 again and at the U.S. Open, it would be a good opportunity to get on the course. I’ll just tell him to carry my bag, keep up, hang out and enjoy the scenery.”
Henley’s father, Chapin, had fun observing Aronson’s joy at the unique chance – and appreciated his son’s gesture to the young golfer.
“He told his mama last night, ‘I’m going to find me a young guy to caddie,'” Chapin Henley said. “He said, ‘If I’d gotten asked to caddie for somebody I would have died and gone to heaven.'”
Aronson slung Henley’s Georgia golf bag, nearly as big as Aronson himself, over his shoulders and was ready to catch the shuttle to the 10th tee where they would start.
Aronson figures he’s the youngest caddie out here. Cory Guzzo, the caddie this week for Henley’s Georgia teammate Hudson Swafford, was excited for the teen.
“Too bad it won’t be the whole week,” Guzzo said. “When you’re that age, you’ll get an experience you’ll never forget. It’s great of Russ to do it for him. If I was his age, I would have loved to do that.”