UMO Alumnus Harry Bayley Caddies At The OPEN

UMO Alumnus Harry Bayley Caddies At The OPEN

NORTHERN IRELAND --- University of Mount Olive Men's Golf Alumnus Harry Bayley '18 had an experience of a lifetime getting to caddy for Thomas Thurloway at The Open Championship over the summer. Bayley shared his experience and story with UMO Athletics.

Bayley, a East Grinstead, United Kingdom native and Thurloway who reside in Jacksonville, Fla. learned how to play golf together when they were younger, playing as members of the same academy. From there the duo played junior and high school tournaments together. Fast forward to the final stage of The Open qualifying and Thurloway asked Bayley if he could caddy for him over the two days (one practice day and one tournament day).

"I said I would help out a friend so he could feel comfortable in the situation and have someone he knew there," said Bayley.

Thurloway went onto shoot a pair of 69s to finish on -6 for the tournament, birdieing the last, holing a 20ft putt to avoid a playoff, and qualify for The Open Championship. After the round, he was questioned by the media being asked, "Will you get a local caddy to take advantage of their knowledge?" to which he responded, "I think my caddy today (Bayley) would be pretty annoyed if I didn't take him!" 

Once the pair was set Harry described the build-up of the caddy-golfer relationship. "I have a great understanding of the game, so mapping the course out, working out yardages without distance measuring devices, and knowing Tom's game quite well meant we worked well together in judging distances and giving him the right club and shot choice to make a good score," commented Bayley.

"The process at The Open was unbelievable, you're there to help your player with whatever, obviously helping on the golf course, but being there to do whatever they need to ease their mind so they play better golf, keeping hydrated, stay focused at practice, you name it, I was probably doing it."

However, being a caddy on the professional circuit is not a glorious life and Bayley divulged what it was like for most during the week as well as his own experience that week. 

"You're there to serve the players needs, carry the bag, figure out yardages and run errands for them, grab equipment out of the tour trucks when they need new or adjusted clubs. However, my experience was incredible," said Bayley.

"Tom's family are some of the most generous people I've come across, they covered every expense while I caddied for Tom, no questions asked. I stayed in Tom's accommodation, got to take advantage of Mercedes courtesy cars to and from the course every day. The other side of the coin for the professional caddies is them finding their own accommodation, and getting themselves to the golf course, so I consider my position extremely lucky that week!" 

A typical practice day would include breakfast, range time getting Thurloway warmed up with both short and long game practice, and then following the practice round, reviewing their notes on the holes played and creating a strategy for the tournament play. 

Going through the tournament Bayley was able to meet some of his idols as well as interact with them and it left a special memory for him as well. " Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, and Brooks Koepka all played a hole with the group we were in. All these guys are great, willing to have a conversation with you, and for the most part supportive for Tom and me."

Thurloway was unable to make the cut and continue playing into the weekend, but Bayley gave insight into what happens when the players go from the practice round to the event start.

"The competitive environment takes a big turn come Thursday morning when the event starts. People suddenly go quiet and it's very much every man for himself. Which is how it should be! But it helps to have people you know around you to get you through it," said Bayley.

Bayley has aspirations to caddy again but cautions that it has to be the right situation.

"It's very much a case of who it would be for, It would have to be for someone I trust, and I know is good enough to make money on the circuit, I've got to be wary of making money myself, so relying/helping the player I'd caddy for to make cuts and earn money is something I'd have to judge based on the person. Tom is one of the few people I would do it for, there aren't many others."

Golf for Bayley now is very much a hobby and he is looking forward to the future.

"It meant the world to me. Watching one of my best friends compete in arguably the biggest golf tournament in the world was special, and for me to be a part of it and help him through it is a memory I'll cherish."