Golfweek’s Lance Ringler turned 50 earlier this year. In 1997, he caddied for Craig Bowden on the PGA Tour, but his gigs inside the ropes since then have been few and far between, although he did caddie for Katherine Kirk at the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open at Pumpkin Ridge.
Ringler, a former college coach, returned to his roots when he agreed to caddie for Knoxville, Tennessee, high school senior Kennedy Noe in the inaugural Pete and Alice Dye Junior Invitational at Crooked Stick Golf Club.
As junior golf tournaments begin to heat up this summer, Ringler talked to colleague Beth Ann Nichols about tips for parents who are thinking about picking up the bag.
First of all, anybody who ever says something negative about a push cart is crazy.
I think with parents, you should strongly look to get someone else who can provide different angles. You can learn how to swing the golf club, but a lot of these kids need to learn how to play golf. That’s the thing I’ve always been able to help people with.
The biggest advice I have for parents is to seek someone else. Maybe not a tour caddie, but how about all these college players? Hire some of these guys and girls to work with your junior player. Parents spend all this money and all this time and all these resources and effort with a swing coach, a sports psychologist, a trainer, a nutritionist, when maybe one of the biggest pieces they’re lacking is course management.
Don’t talk about the past
My player had a double-bogey on the par-3 sixth hole today. I didn’t say anything until the player got to the next tee. We didn’t talk about the past. Hey, you’ve got a good target here, put a good swing on it. There’s no need to veer off the road map just because you’ve had a bad hole. She parred in.
Use positive words
At the PGA Tour’s Deposit Guarantee Classic in Mississippi, I was caddying for Craig and he was playing with Hal Sutton. On the first hole in the first round, a par 5, he hit his shot in there to 5 feet. The putt was straight as a yardstick. For some reason, he said, take a look at this. I said, “Can’t miss it.” Well, of course he missed it. As we’re walking off the green, he says to me, “Don’t ever say that again!” So that word didn’t come out again. Use positive words, not negative words. But it was a 5-footer, anybody could’ve made it.
Find big targets
I always try to have juniors find big targets rather than little targets. If you say you want to hit at a small tree in the distance, that can be pretty hard to do, and you can beat yourself up over that if you miss it slightly. Let’s pick two trees in the distance and try to split the goalpost. Aggressive swings to conservative targets. Then you’re in a better frame of mind.
36 in a day
Tuesday’s 36-hole day was brutal. Hunter Haas was always big on changing socks midway through a 36-hole day, so I brought an extra pair. We had about 35 to 40 minutes in between rounds. The clubhouse wasn’t as cool as I would’ve liked it to be — I wanted to stand in a freezer — so I went out to my car, which was parked under a shade tree. I blasted the air-conditioner in my face for about 10 minutes, and then I was ready to go for the second round. But I was counting them down, 16 to go, 15 to go, all the way in.