Ed. note: Welcome to the second installment of Noonan’s Notebook. Michael O’Keefe — aka, the actor who played Danny Noonan in Caddyshack — is using this space to share his experiences from Winged Foot Golf Club, where he caddied in the early 1970s and now, this week, is caddying at the 120th U.S. Open. (Well, for two practice days, anyway.) Keep it tuned here for a unique look behind the rope line at golf’s ultimate test.
Part I: How I see my role this week.
I’ve been nominated for an Oscar (The Great Santini), appeared in a cult classic — Caddyshack, of course — and have worked with many of the top actors in the biz. I’ve been blessed beyond belief. Many of my dreams have come true.
You can add another to the list.
On Monday of U.S. Open week, I got to caddie again at Winged Foot, where I carried bags in the early 1970s, growing up just 15 minutes away. Clearly Thomas Wolfe didn’t play golf. You can go home.
I had a blast caddying for Danny Ballin, a club pro from Fresh Meadow CC on Long Island, as he played a practice round in the morning. Danny didn’t ask much of me — his regular caddie walked along with us — though, with their help, I did give him the right yardages.
Danny mostly wanted to keep things light, asking me to share some Caddyshack stories. I don’t think I disappointed him. He also asked me about other roles I’ve had.
And, yes, I heard my share of Noooonan chants. What would you expect?
The only negative, I guess, was that, because of the virus, there weren’t more people around. On the other hand, I truly believe that our need for any distractions in these trying days is what landed me this opportunity in the first place.
Many caddies and players came up to me, and while they didn’t mention the movie, I could tell it was on their mind. They wanted to play it cool, and I get that. Many asked to have their pictures taken with me or for an autograph. I was happy to oblige. Jon Rahm, the third-ranked player in the world, came over to say hi. Nice man. I hope he does well this week.
Oh, and I even got to hit a shot.
NBC’s Jimmy Roberts walked with us for a few holes, and when we arrived at No. 13, a tough par-3, I pulled out a three-wood. Was I nervous? You bet. I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous on a set.
Anyway, thank God I got the club on the ball. Whiffing wouldn’t have helped my reputation one bit. The ball actually went about 200 yards, nearly making it to the putting surface. Ty Webb would be proud.
Let me tell you, though, Danny’s bag was heavy. He certainly didn’t make it any lighter for me. Nor would I expect him to. He still has to get his work in for what is obviously a huge week for him.
By the end of the day, I was bushed. Fortunately, one of my fellow loopers gave me a great tip.
“When you get home, put ice on your feet and put them up,” he said.
I plan to do just that.
I also plan to have more fun on Tuesday, as Danny is set to play another practice round in the afternoon. I’m beginning to think they’re going to have to throw me out of here.