'It's even cooler than I dreamed it would be'; St. Thomas Ont. caddie at Masters
LONDON, ONT. -- Walking inside the ropes at the hallowed grounds of Augusta National Golf Club was Jace Walker's childhood dream.
"It was always a dream to play this tournament because it's my favorite golf tournament in the world but caddying is as close as I could get and we're having a good time," says Walker, who spoke to CTV News from the course before the third round Saturday.
The St. Thomas, Ont. native and former professional player is spending his second season carrying the bag for fellow Canadian golfer Mackenzie Hughes.
Walker comes from a golf loving family. He and his brother were both college players, and his father and uncle were low handicappers.
They never missed watching the Masters tournament growing up.
"I always watched with my family, grandpa and uncles. It's just one of those tournaments you just kind of fall in love but you know all the holes before you even here. The way they treat us here is second to none".
St. Thomas Ont.'s Jace Walker interview on April 10, 2021 from Augusta Ga. (Zoom Interview)
Walker is soaking up all he can in this trip to the Masters. He previously attended with his grandfather as a child.
While his dream of playing a round in the major tournament died years ago, he did get to hit a shot on the famed par three 16th hole Wednesday.
The tradition is for players and caddie to attempt to skip the ball across the pond and onto the green.
"It was so cool," says Walker.
"The crowd gets louder for the caddies to hit shots than the players. We saw the guys in front of us go, and Mac always lets me do that fun stuff whenever we are allowed. I luckily after about four skips it got across and just on the fringe. The crowd got a little excited, so that was fun."
Spoke to Jace Walker at Augusta National today. He’s experiencing his first trip to the Masters as Caddy for @MacHughesGolf. On Wednesday he got to attempt the skip shot on 16. The farthest from the camera he skipped it 4x and got it on the fringe. pic.twitter.com/ajDjQPudpL— BrentLaleCTV (@BrentLaleCTV) April 10, 2021
He spent last Sunday and Monday taking in all the views of the impeccable facility, before getting to work Tuesday in preparation.
"They don't have green's books here so everything's completely off of feel," says Walker.
"You know guys who have been here for years have experience of these putts. Mac (Hughes) is the best putter in the world so it doesn't really change our plan on how we go about reading greens or do anything like that. I do think, watching this tournament growing up helps," he says.
There's a couple little chips that I've known for years that will do this or come back off of that ridge before you're even here. It's cool because it's almost like you have experience before you even set foot on the ground by watching so much".
For the things he doesn't know, he's been leaning on friend and fellow St. Thomas native Brennan Little.
Little was on the bag for Mike Weir when he won the Masters in 2003, and now caddies for Gary Woodland.
"I have spent a bit more time with 'Butch' (Little's nickname) this week," says Walker.
"Obviously he's one of the best in the world and knows his place very well".
Woodland made the cut, so Little is around for the weekend, so is Listowel's Corey Conners.
Hughes shot consecutive rounds of 72 and made the cut, so Walker and his boss are around for the weekend.
Sunday, he'll get to experience one of the most memorable parts of the private course.
The 300 metre drive down the awe-inspiring Magnolia Lane reserved for the players.
"Caddies come in a different entrance, but Mac is going to pick me up tomorrow (Sunday) and I'll get to drive down Magnolia Lane," says Walker.
"That'll be cool. I walk past it every day, and it's quite a view, so looking forward to it".
Walker says everything about the way the event is organized is first class.
"From the way they treat the players, to the respectful fans it's different from any other tournament in the world'.
With the successful partnership that he and Hughes have formed over the past year and a half, he hopes this will be the latest in many trips to Augusta Ga.