Darren Finch from Catterick Garrison has been a playing golf member at Rockliffe Hall for over 3 years. This blog covers his take on his experience on being caddying for Santiago Luna (who challenged eventual winner Steen Tinning) through the most gripping golf tournament Rockliffe has ever hosted – the 2013 English Senior Open.
Darren Finch and Santiago Luga When I first found out that the European Senior Tour was coming to ‘the Rock’, I immediately went to speak with Head Professional Jon Stacey and volunteered to be a caddy. 5 weeks later I found out I was to be on the bag of Spaniard, Santiago Luna.
Now I’ve got to be honest here, I didn’t really know who he was. So after a bit of homework I had found out that 2013 was his first year on the Senior Tour and he’d already won the Scottish Senior Open (so he was obviously on good form).
Darren Finch and Santiago LugaDay one of the Tournament and he had a solid start, straight away Santiago brought me in to help him read the putts, but it wasn’t until the 6th hole, Par 3 when he said “Darren I don’t know what this putt is going to do”, fortunately I did – it was two balls outside the left, I gave him the read and it went in for a birdie. After that moment I knew I had gained his trust in my knowledge of the Greens. However it is one thing reading them; Santiago was the one having to make the putts. The first day ended with a solid round of 5 under par one shot off the lead.
Day two was much the same – I was helping him read the greens. The stand out moment of the day was when he hit the 12th hole Par 5 in two. With a very long drive and a solid 6 iron into the green and I gave him the read on the eagle putt and it went in. On a number of occasions he even asked my advice on certain clubs. Another great day saw him finish on 10 under par two shots off the lead.
Day three was the final round and with our group being the last group out we had a large crowd following us and a lot of them were members which was good. Throughout the day I kept hearing my name ‘Dazzler’ as I am known in the club being called out, which was great having that support from the members and other people in the crowd. When we got to the 7th hole Par 5, again he hit a great drive and had 217 yards to the flag. I just said to him “keep it left of the pin” which would leave him an uphill putt. He hit a fantastic 3 iron onto the green left of the pin. He thought the putt was straight, but I advised him that it was inside left; Santiago trusted me and holed it for an eagle – I was actually feeling like I was playing the game!
Although I had heard my name being called out throughout the day I didn’t really see anybody because you have to be so aware of not only what your own player is doing but what the other two players are doing all the time, so it was really intense.
It wasn’t until I was walking up the 18th when I noticed all the crowds and what a feeling that was, walking up the 18th fairway next to Santiago with all the crowds clapping – that was a very special feeling, one that I will remember for a long time. This time when we got to the green I decided to leave Santiago to read his own putt because it was his moment, but he still brought me in to help him read it.
Unfortunately he missed the putt, but hey you can’t hole them all! He finished in second place one shot off the lead with a fantastic score of 16 under par.
The whole week has been an amazing experience – to have a Professional Tournament at your own course is great but to be part of it was really special. It was an honour to caddy for Santiago Luna. Seeing professionals playing golf on TV is nothing compared to actually seeing them play shots in real life, especially as close up as I was.
My head is now full of information I have picked up from all the players over the 3 days of the tournament and now it’s time to work on my game!