Tour Caddie Kenny Harms Wrestled at Foxcatcher Farm

January 15, 2015
Kenny Harms Kevin Na.jpg

Kenny Harms, a veteran Tour caddie, will tell you that Tiger Woods is the second-most impressive athlete he has ever met. He ranks only Dave Schultz ahead of him. Not Dave Schultz as played (brilliantly) by Mark Ruffalo in the 2014 film Foxcatcher. The actual Dave Schultz, under whom Harms wrestled, at the actual Foxcatcher Farm, a rural Pennsylvania estate and wrestling camp owned and run by the millionaire and sociopath John du Pont. Steve Carell plays him (brilliantly) in the movie, with a fake nose and heavy thighs.

“I never showered at Foxcatcher,” Harms told me. He’s won with Kevin Na, Hale Irwin, Hubert Green, and he has showered in clubhouses all over the world. He used to be married to Emilee Klein, the LPGA player. “I always had a creepy feeling about John du Pont.”

In high school and college, Harms was a wrestler, close to elite but never quite there despite his best effort. He was the captain of his high school team, in Paramus, N.J., and one of the best schoolboy wrestlers in the state, 115-pound division. Golf moved in when wrestling moved out. It didn’t take him long to get to scratch.

“They’re incredibly similar sports,” Harms said. “Both require intelligence, discipline and selfishness.”

His current boss, Kevin Na, credits Harms with speeding him up, getting him stronger and tougher. You don’t hire Harms, a brick of a man with broad shoulders and dark hair and an earnest manner, if you only want somebody to carry your bag. Harms saw how Schultz, as a coach and fellow wrestler, inspired the Olympic hopefuls at Foxcatcher with tough love and encouragement. He did not yell. He did not pound. He taught. Kenny has taken Schultz’s wrestling mat lessons to the golf course. The underlying question is always the same: How deep are you willing to dig? Schultz, like Woods in his prime, was trying to reach China.

John du Pont, as a coach and wrestler, was a pretender. “He’d come into the wrestling room with his singlet on,” Harms said. “And he’d be the weakest person in the room. Everybody killed him.”

Harms was a junior at nearby West Chester State at the time. He’d drive to Foxcatcher several nights a week, get waved through the gate, wrestle and drive back to his off-campus apartment. He was at Foxcatcher for five months, in the 1988-89 collegiate season, as an all-purpose 140-pound sparring partner for wrestlers trying to make the national team.

Schultz and his younger brother, Mark, had both won freestyle gold medals in the 1984 Olympics. Mark Schultz, played (brilliantly) in the film by Channing Tatum, is portrayed as du Pont’s human pet. “We all heard the same rumors,” Harms said, that du Pont was gay, and that he used wrestling as a way to be around physically robust men. “I didn’t care about that. But I didn’t go back for a second year. John du Pont was the reason. He was weird.”

Within a year, Harms had his first job in golf, as a sweep-the-shop assistant pro at White Manor Country Club, down the road from Foxcatcher Farm. Wrestling remains his greatest passion, and, at 49, he’s about as fit as anybody on Tour, caddie or player. He used to wear out the other loopers in those caddie races at Colonial and Phoenix.

Harms said that he’s watched clips of Foxcatcher and planned to see the movie, but that he would do so with mixed feelings. “From what I’ve seen, they’re showing John du Pont as a strong personality.” At one point, Carell, as du Pont, tells his mother, “I lead men.”

“He was a coward,” Harms said. He says he thought that long before the day — January 26, 1996 — that du Pont shot and killed Schultz at his farm. Du Pont died in prison in 2010.

In the movie, du Pont’s horse-loving mother, played (brilliantly) by Vanessa Redgrave, tells her son, “I don’t like the sport of wrestling, as you know. It’s a low sport.”

To Harms, it’s a high sport, the highest. He says Schultz was a great wrestler because he had stamina, resilience and a bottomless capacity for work, mental and physical. Now Harms is trying to help get Na — as Schultz tried to do with his wrestlers — to the promised land. Na remains a work in progress. Harms remembers Luke Donald once talking to Na on a practice range when Donald was the No. 1 player in the world. “Luke walks away and Kevin says, “I work just as hard as he does.” I laughed at him.”

Harms wishes that Woods and Schultz could have compared notes. “Dave Schultz didn’t think about wrestling just in the wrestling room, and Tiger didn’t think about golf just on the course and range,” the caddie said. “It takes total dedication.” From what Kenny Harms has seen, not in the movies but in real life, total dedication is just the starting point.

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