Notebook: Baseball Coach Loops At Senior Women’s Am September 16, 2014 By Lisa D. Mickey

Ryan Waltz (right) caddies regularly at Hollywood G.C. This week, the former baseball and football star caddied for Helene Chartrand. (USGA/Jonathan Ernst)

DEAL, N.J. – When competitive golfers visit courses, they often hire local caddies to teach them the nuances of the layout.. Helene Chartrand, 58, of Canada, hired Hollywood Golf Club caddie Ryan Waltz to help her at this week’s U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.

But it wasn’t just the player who benefited from the caddie’s schooling at Hollywood. Waltz said this week’s championship taught him some valuable lessons about working with more accomplished players.

When you work with the average club player, their needs aren’t as exact, said Waltz, 38, of Hazlet, N.J. When I gave Helene reads on the greens, I’d point and say, ‘Hit it maybe a ball or a ball and half in this area of the green’ and she was like, ‘No, you’ve got to tell me exactly where I should hit it.’

That precision took some adjustment for Waltz, but it came with great appreciation for the championship golf he was able to experience on a course he knows well.

It’s a whole different level of the game as far as the need to be precise on reads of the greens for putts and even chip shots, added Waltz. On chips, these players would ask, ‘What do you think the ball is going to do on the green?’ That’s a player who is really dialed in and knows where they’re going to hit it.

Waltz signed up to work this week when the club’s caddies were informed there would be opportunities to work with championship-caliber players.

These women can hit it, he said. I was surprised because they can really put it out there. I saw some impressive shots this week.

Waltz caddies mostly during the summer months at Hollywood. The golf season in New Jersey usually spans from April to the end of October. Typically, he will loop one or two rounds per week.

He also served as the caddie master for nearly seven years at Essex Country Club in West Orange, N.J., and worked the previous season at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J., site of the 1978 U.S. Amateur and 1987 U.S. Women’s Open. Waltz used to be a scratch golfer and says he now owns a Handicap Index of 5 or 6, but when he’s not carrying a bag, he works as the pitching coach for the baseball team at Matawan Regional High School in Aberdeen Township, N.J.

Waltz was a heralded high school athlete in baseball and football. He was a New Jersey All-Shore quarterback in his senior year at Raritan High School and was voted All-Shore and All-County in baseball. He also played basketball just to keep in shape during the winter months.

The Philadelphia Phillies showed interest in signing him out of high school, but Waltz wanted to go to college, so he enrolled at Towson University in Maryland as a two-sport athlete in football and baseball.

As a freshman, he threw a touchdown pass against fellow Division I-AA opponent Butler University.

It was an 8-yarder, a little fade to the corner, he said. It was pretty cool to throw a touchdown pass in Division I football.

But at 6-foot-1, Waltz soon felt he was too short even for I-AA, so he decided to focus only on baseball and transferred to Bloomfield (N.J.) College. The right-handed pitcher and first baseman earned all-conference honors twice in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference and played four years at Bloomfield.

Waltz’s careful eye helped his Matawan team advance into New Jersey’s state high school semifinals last spring. He hopes to help guide them into another successful season in the coming year.

Coaching is my passion because I like helping people, he said. The same is true with caddieing. You’re working with your player and trying to pull the best out of them.

And this week, his player required the best from him as a caddie. Waltz said the lessons he learned at the 2014 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship will likely make him better in that role.

You have to be precise to really help good players, he said. So now I have more desire to learn the greens a little better when I’m out here.

Chartrand lost, 1 up, to  Joan Higgins, who advanced to Thursday’s final, in Wednesday’s quarterfinal match, but Waltz was upbeat about the national championship that is being staged on his home turf.

To be a part of this event has been amazing, he said. There’s so much good golf out there and it’s been great to watch it up close.

Stewart Streit Has Fingers Crossed For Fellow Canadian

A Canadian-born player advanced to a USGA championship match for the third time this year, and once again, legendary Canadian player Marlene Stewart Streit is glued to live scoring on the Internet.

Judith Kyrinis, 50, of Toronto advanced to Thursday’s final match of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship against Joan Higgins, 58, of Glendora, Calif., after defeating Terri Frohnmayer, 2 and 1, in Wednesday’s semifinals.

Last month, Streit was also tuned in for the final match of the U.S. Women’s Amateur between Canada’s Brooke Mackenzie Henderson and Kristen Gillman, of Texas. Gillman won the championship, 2 up.

I’m thrilled to death for Judith to make it to the championship match, said Streit, a three-time U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion (1985, 1994 and 2003). She has as good a chance as anybody to win it.

Streit has long set the standard for all Canadian female golfers. She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004 and recognized for a winning streak of USGA championships that started when she was 22 at the 1956 U.S. Women’s Amateur and ended in 2003 at the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at age 69.

Streit, whom Kyrinis credits as an influence, became the Hall of Fame’s first Canadian member and was the first woman to win both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.

Streit won her debut in the Senior Women’s Amateur in 1985 at age 51. This week’s championship is also the debut for Kyrinis, a mother of three and a registered nurse at Toronto General Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Center in the Risk Assessment Clinic for Anesthesia.

I’ve known Judith for a long time and she’s always been a good player, said Streit, 80. She works hard as a nurse and practices with a purpose because she doesn’t have a lot of free time.

Streit says they play golf together maybe once or twice a year, but this week, there have been daily text messages and emails of encouragement buzzing back and forth between Canada and New Jersey.

This week’s U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur is the sixth USGA championship appearance for Kyrinis, who has played in five U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateurs, reaching match play four times. Her summer has included third-place finishes at both the Canadian and Ontario Senior championships.

Even though Streit is not in the field at this year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur for the first time in years – having exhausted her 10-year winner’s exemption in 2013 – she’s still tuned in to the progress and success of her compatriot.

It’s fabulous the way she’s playing, added Streit. My fingers are crossed for Thursday.

Higgins Has To Pay For Extended Stay

Finalist Joan Higgins is one victory away from hauling home some major hardware, but she will be a little lighter in the wallet.

Higgins had a free flight home scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, but now that her stay has been extended, she had to purchase a new ticket.

I thought if I lasted until Wednesday, I would be happy with that, she said. I figure my husband won’t mind paying for a ticket, considering the circumstances.

Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites. Associate Writer Joey Flyntz contributed.