Golf

On Grand Strand Golf: Maness drops bag on PGA Tour caddie career

Michael Maness caddied on the PGA Tour for approximately six seasons, and also participated in the PGA Tour’s 2012 Greenbrier Classic (pictured) as a Monday qualifier.
Michael Maness caddied on the PGA Tour for approximately six seasons, and also participated in the PGA Tour’s 2012 Greenbrier Classic (pictured) as a Monday qualifier. Submitted photo

After about six collective years caddying on the PGA Tour in two stints, Galivants Ferry native Michael Maness has accepted a job selling insurance throughout South Carolina and is giving up traveling at the game’s top level.

Maness, 34, has been caddying for the past 2 1/2 years for Kevin Chappell, the 2008 NCAA individual champion who is in his fifth PGA Tour season.

Maness said he began contemplating a career change after the birth of his first child last July, daughter Elle.

“The birth of my daughter changed things a little bit,” Maness said. “And after I stopped playing it changed my outlook on golf a little bit. I wanted to do something different.”

The Greenville resident graduated from South Carolina in December 2003 with a retail sales business degree. He attempted a playing career after college and again for much of 2012, when he Monday qualified for a PGA Tour event but failed to get through the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament prior to the 2013 season and opted to return to caddying.

He is the South Carolina account executive for the Arrowhead General Insurance Agency headquartered in Kansas City, and is responsible for selling commercial property and casualty insurance in the automotive after-market sector. The job allows him to work out of his home and vehicle and be off on weekends.

“It’s a different world for me but one I’m looking forward to,” Maness said. “It’s the first time I’ve actually started thinking when [the golf career] will end. I’ve been doing golf my whole life.

“A lot of things have changed, obviously, with a little girl at home. Golf has always been my life. It had been my passion for a long period of time to play on a professional level. After 2012 I pretty much retired from golf. I kind of stepped away from the game and I have a different outlook on it now.”

Chappell has earned nearly $700,000 in 17 events this season and has been playing well of late with three top-25 finishes in his past four events.

Maness said he informed Chappell of his decision following his tie for 19th in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial late last month, and Chappell has played his last two events with a different caddie.

Maness caddied for three years through the 2011 season, predominantly with then-roommate Bill Haas, and began caddying for Chappell late in 2012.

With Maness on the bag for the 2013 and 2013-14 seasons, Chappell earned $1.59 million and $1.34 million, respectively.

A friend of Maness that owns a body shop and carries Arrowhead General insurance knew he was looking to get off the road and contacted him about the job opening around late April. He’ll be selling commercial insurance to just about every business in the automotive world with the exception of new car dealerships, including used car dealerships, tire shops, garages, body shops, parts stores, etc.

“I didn’t want to caddie for the rest of my life so I didn’t want to pass on this opportunity,” Maness said.

Maness hopes to now play more golf than he has in the past couple years. He regained his amateur status in October and has since played in just one event, a four-ball in Columbia, for which he practiced for about a week leading up to it.

He hopes to play in the 84th S.C. Amateur Championship from Aug. 6-9 at the Chanticleer Course at Greenville Country Club but will have to qualify next month, is signed up for a U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship qualifier at Lexington Country Club, and is committed to play in at least a couple more four-ball events with Clemson alum Gregg Jones of Florence, a medical equipment salesman.

“It will definitely open doors for playing amateur golf,” Maness said. “I’m just looking forward to playing some more golf than I have been, even if it is on the weekends. I haven’t played much since I gave up playing after Q-School in 2012.

“… When I’m at home [Elle] takes up most of my time, which I enjoy. Golf is kind of on the back burner for me right now. I just go play golf now, there’s not much practicing.”

Maness was one of the most heralded junior golfers to ever come out of the Grand Strand. He was an American Junior Golf Association All-American, was ranked in the top 10 in the nation and was the state's top-ranked junior for a couple years.

He won three state high school titles, the South Carolina Junior and Carolinas Junior, and the AJGA Ping Myrtle Beach Junior Classic at Myrtlewood Golf Club’s PineHills Course with an 8-under-par 64 in the final round.

But his career at USC didn’t meet expectations, and caddying for his friend Haas became a viable option after his first attempt at a playing career didn’t pan out. Caddying can be a successful profession, considering 96 players made more than $1 million on the PGA Tour last season and caddies generally earn anywhere from 4 to 10 percent of weekly earnings depending on the finish in addition to having some expenses paid. Agreements between individual caddies and players differ, however.

“You work 30 weeks a year and have the rest off, so if you look at it that way it’s a blessing too in certain ways,” Maness said. “I was at home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, all that. And it’s a potentially lucrative career. There’s a lot of money they play for out there and fortunately some guys get taken care of pretty well, so you also have that aspect of it.”

Schoenwald going strong

While Maness is calling it a caddying career, Mark Schoenwald of Myrtle Beach has no intention of giving up his looping job on the Champions Tour.

Schoenwald is in his 23rd year on the tour and has been caddying for Mark Brooks since last July.

“I’m happy as a camper. I love my job and love going to work,” Schoenwald said. “The one thing for sure is you never know what’s going to happen. That keeps it fresh.”

Brooks, 54, is a seven-time PGA Tour winner who is still seeking his first Champions Tour victory in his fifth season on the senior circuit.

Schoenwald said he was bouncing between players last year, including Tom Purtzer and Bruce Vaughan, when he received a call from Brooks following the British Senior Open in late July inquiring if he was available for a job, and the two have been together for 22 tournaments since.

Brooks lost in a playoff at the Boeing Classic last August for his second career Champions Tour runner-up finish and was one of the top 30 money winners in 2014 to qualify for the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. He ended the season with more than $650,000 in earnings.

In 11 events this season, Brooks has three top-25 finishes with a top finish of 15th and has earned about $120,000. “We’re off to a slow start this year but such is life,” Schoenwald said.

The Champions Tour is off this week for the U.S. Open and Brooks is working the tournament as a broadcaster for Fox Network. He and Schoenwald will be at the $3.5 million U.S. Senior Open next week at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, Calif.

Schoenwald’s biggest moment on the Champions Tour came as Vaughan’s caddie for his win in the 2008 British Senior Open.

Camping out

Jackson Cole of Pawleys Island, a rising junior who is home-schooled and plays on the Waccamaw High boys golf team, is getting a couple valuable opportunities to improve his golf game this summer.

This week, he is participating in a summer golf camp at the International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head Island and staying in a dormitory there. About 70 juniors were invited and he’s one of about 40 members of The First Tee golf and youth development organization who are among them.

The camp runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily Monday through Friday and includes instruction on the full swing, short game, mental game, fitness, course management, etc., as well as nine or 18 holes of golf per day. Attendees have options for afternoon activities that include golf on different courses, other sports, and Savannah and dolphin watching trips.

From July 8-15, Cole will be participating in The First Tee’s Player Advanced Academy at the University of Nevada-Reno campus. Only 24 elite players ages 15-18 from First Tee chapters across the country were selected. In addition to comprehensive golf, fitness and nutrition training, the camp will also invoke The First Tee’s nine core values.

“It’s going to be really fun and there are going to be a lot of good players there,” Cole said. “I’m just hoping it will reflect on my game and I’ll learn a lot of things because [the game] is a long ways away.”

The application process required three essays, a playing resume, and details of involvement with The First Tee and volunteering.

“With all of these experiences this summer, I’m hoping I can learn from them and take a lot out of them,” said Cole, who will fly for the first time on his Reno trip.

Dustin’s free quest

There will likely be thousands of golfers across the U.S. rooting for Dustin Johnson to win the U.S. Open this week for very selfish reasons.

TaylorMade-adidas and PGA Tour Superstore, which has a pair of locations on the Grand Strand, is running a promotional contest tied to Johnson’s performance this week.

If the Coastal Carolina alumnus wins at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Wash., anyone who purchased either an R15 or Aero Burner driver between May 18 and the close of business Wednesday through PGA Tour Superstore will be reimbursed the cost of the driver.

So Johnson won’t be the only one cashing in on his first major victory.

Albin steps down

The First Tee of Brunswick County, which is run by a foundation that also oversees The First Tee of the Grand Strand, is in search of a new executive director with the recent resignation of Rebecca Albin.

Albin stepped down on June 1 after five years as the executive director of the successful program.

The Carol S. Petrea Foundation based in Brunswick County oversees the Grand Strand, Brunswick County, Cape Fear and Eastern North Carolina chapters of The First Tee.

Petrea Foundation executive director Ellen Gregory said the organization has already received a handful of applications.

“We certainly would like to have one maybe by the end of the summer,” Gregory said. “But the staff is handling everything so we’re not in a panic. We want to make sure we find somebody who will be a right fit for the job.”

The foundation also has openings for the Eastern North Carolina executive director and newly created position of foundation director of development.

Albin is still living in Sunset Beach, N.C., as she contemplates her next career move. “Everything will work out for the best,” she said.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284 or on Twitter @alanblondin, or read his blog Green Reading at myrtlebeachonline.com

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