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Jun 11, 2018 3:59 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Longtime Shinnecock Caddy Will Carry Bag For Aussie Pro Adam Scott In U.S. Open

Lenny Bummolo caddies for Adam Scott on Monday at the U.S. Open.    DANA SHAW
Jun 11, 2018 4:15 PM

He calls him his “secret weapon.”

When Adam Scott tees off in the 118th U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Thursday, he’ll do so knowing he has by his side someone with more than three decades of experience reading the course’s notoriously tricky greens. Longtime Shinnecock caddy Lenny Bummolo will carry the bag for the 37-year-old Australian pro golfer—who won the Masters in 2013 and was the top-ranked golfer in the world for several months in 2014—picking up the assignment just days after Scott parted ways with his regular caddy.

Scott made the decision recently, after taking what was for him an unorthodox route to the U.S. Open. Because he was not ranked in the top 60 of the world golf rankings, and the 10-year exemption from winning the Masters had run out, Scott was forced to play in a 36-hole sectional qualifying event in Columbus, Ohio, June 4, with his streak of playing in 72 consecutive major championships on the line. He finished in the top five at the qualifier, and after choosing to let his caddy go, decided to give Bummolo a call.

Bummolo had sheparded Scott around Shinnecock in the past, most notably in 2013, when Scott set the course record by shooting a 63. The record was broken a year later, but the experience made an impression on Scott.

“We had a good day that day,” Scott said on Monday as he came off the ninth green after playing a full 18 holes of practice, which started at 7:20 in the morning on the 10th hole. “He’s been in my group a few times in the past five or six years now, and my plan was to work with him this week anyway to pick his brain about the golf course, especially the greens, and get as much knowledge as I can, and it just worked out that I needed him to caddy the whole week.

“It’s ideal,” Scott continued. “I think I’ve got a bit of a secret weapon on the bag.”

It’s a fair assessment given Bummolo’s years of experience at Shinnecock. The East Islip resident came to the club in 1988, never intending to be here for as long as he has.

“I came here to earn some money while I looked for another job, and never left,” Bummolo said after the practice round on Monday. The love of the game was part of his life for as long as he can remember, he said, recalling the first set of clubs he owned as a kid; a simple canvas bag with a three-iron, a driver and a putter. Bummolo said he didn’t necessarily fit in at Shinnecock when he started decades ago, but steadily earned a reputation as one of the club’s most reliable caddies. He became the assistant caddymaster 24 years ago, and has been the go-to guy for several members, including Jimmy Dunne. He carried Dunne’s bag in 2011, when Dunne shot a course record (for a non-pro) of 63. Bummolo referred to luck when talking about being present for two rounds of 63 at Shinnecock. When it was suggested that maybe it wasn’t luck, he shrugged.

“Over the course of 30 years, you’re bound to acquire some knowledge,” Bummolo said. “I just have to apply it when it’s needed. And that’s on the greens. I’m not really helping him too much on shots. Wind direction, maybe, a club here and there. On the greens I think he’s focused on me and what I can do for him.”

Scott has long been recognized as one of the best hitters in the game, but his abilities on the greens have been up and down. He found success with a long putter in recent years, and while the rules no longer allow players to anchor the long putters to their stomach, he still uses it while abiding to the new rule, and feels it suits his game. Precisely what to do with that putter is where Bummolo comes in, and Scott is putting his faith in him entirely.

“Like it happens out here, we change our caddies from time to time, and it was one of those times for me,” Scott said of the choice to switch up his caddy for one of golf’s major tournaments. “I didn’t really have another plan in place, so I felt this was good, and I’m sure it will be now after spending a few days with Lenny out here, just seeing his knowledge on the greens. It takes a lot of pressure off me working hard during the week to figure out what’s going on on the greens. I can rely on him.”

On Monday, Scott got a taste of challenging conditions and just how useful someone with Bummolo’s knowledge can be. With a strong east wind whipping around, Bummolo said Scott fared well in his practice round, and that the course is shaping up nicely, but added that he hoped the conditions—at least the wind direction—would change by Thursday.

“With the east wind 10 to 15 miles per hour, this is almost as hard as it gets here,” Bummolo said. “People who have played here many times can be confused by the wind. So I’m going to go home and do a little wind dance and say, ‘change directions, baby.’ Because nobody wants this. But the greens are getting faster; they look pretty good.”

Bummolo is not a stranger to the spotlight, having caddied for Justin Hicks in 2004 and Mike Sanfilippo in 1995. Both missed the cut, Hicks by four strokes, Sanfilippo by just one. Scott did not fare well in 2004, shooting 75 on both Thursday and Friday to miss the cut, but both he and Bummolo feel this year can and should be different.

“I’ve got everything to gain,” Scott said. “Obviously I got in last minute, and I want to make the most of it. I think this course sets up really well for me, and my game has been in nice shape the last five or six weeks. It would be a thrill to win the United States Open at Shinnecock. It’s one of my favorite courses in the states, if not my favorite.”

It’s clear that Bummolo has become a favorite of Scott’s too, and not only for his insider knowledge of the greens.

“He’s probably the typical....” Scott paused: “Longtime club caddy,” he finished, a grin spreading across his face. “He’s got a lot of great stories; he can entertain out there with his stories. And his knowledge is obviously huge. He have mutual friends, so we have something in common to joke about.

“I’ve been here maybe 10 rounds in my life, and he’s been here 10,000, so there’s a huge difference in the level of confidence that he reads a green with than me out here. That’s what’s been really fun. I’ve just let him read my putts and I just hit them.”

Bummolo said that the jokes and story telling will of course be off the table this week, especially once the competition gets under way on Thursday and Scott puts his game face on.

“It’s an old cliche, but I only speak when spoken to,” Bummolo said. “He’s got to turn that switch on. But on the greens I feel comfortable with him, and his manager told me he really likes how I do things, so we’re ok. And he’s such a nice guy. He’s really a class act. He thanks me every time I replace his divots.”

It may sound like a relationship with the potential to last for more than a week, but Bummolo said that while he’s “thrilled” to be on Scott’s bag, he won’t be leaving his post at Shinnecock any time soon—a question people are asking him now that Scott is without a full-time caddy.

“He could win this event, and I’m not going out on tour,” Bummolo said. “People keep asking me, but [Scott] hasn’t asked me, and I don’t think he’ll ask. Ten years ago, maybe I would.”

For now, the excitement of caddying for one of the world’s best players is certainly enough. And the work that comes with the territory is keeping Bummolo in the kind of shape most other 60-year-olds would envy.

“I carried bags for 36 holes the other day, and my FitBit said I did 41,000 steps,” he said. “That’s 20 miles with 40 pounds on my back. So it’s keeping me in pretty good shape.”

Bummolo is hoping his FitBit has thousands more steps to record, particularly through the weekend. Thinking of being in the spotlight for four days gets the adrenaline flowing, but he’s working on keeping it under wraps, for now.

“I am trying to temper it,” Bummolo said. “The two previous times I’ve caddied in the Open are helping now. But at 1:47 p.m. on Thursday on the 10th tee, I’m going to be pumped up. I will have to calm myself down. But once we get started, I’ll be ok.”

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