BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Actor Michael Peña, country music artist Darius Rucker and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson certainly garnered applause, but so did Anthony Wayne High School senior Spencer Borowski.
As a caddie for Inverness Club in Toledo, the 17-year-old was one of only six to remain “on the bag” during the Solheim Cup Celebrity Match last week.
“I saw some of my friends on the sideline and they were cheering for me. I think they did it to try to embarrass me, but they didn’t. It was fun,” he said. “I saw Michael Peña and Bubba Watson and I talked to Darius Rucker for a second and got a photo. Bubba played unreal. He really showed his skills. It was awesome to see all of them.”
The Solheim Cup, an event held every two years, features the 12 best European players from the Ladies European Tour (LET) and the 12 best U.S. players from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour. It’s a first for Toledo to host the event, and only the second time for an Ohio city. In 1998, Muirfield Village was the site of the Solheim Cup event.
“This tournament was huge for Ohio and Toledo,” Spencer said. “This put us on the map for a PGA tournament in the future. We would love to have the U.S. Open.”
The Celebrity Match teamed current or former pro players with celebrities for a fun afternoon on September 2. Spencer caddied for Angela Ruggiero, a four-time hockey Olympian, and Wendy Ward, a three-time U.S. Solheim Cup team member. Ruggiero hadn’t played golf before.
“She had four lessons and played to the best of her ability,” Spencer said. “I could see she has a natural golf swing from playing hockey.”
At tee box 14, Ruggiero stopped for a selfie with her caddie. It’s one of many photos that Spencer and his family – including brothers Cooper and Blake – took during the weekend event.
The opportunity to be a part of such an important event started when Blake, now 20, was the first AWHS student to get a job as a caddie at Inverness. His dad, Todd, was working at ProMedica Innovations and heard an intern talking about the opportunities for caddies. Todd encouraged Blake to apply, and he got the job. Blake has since has recruited 35 Generals to caddie at Inverness, including Spencer and 15-year-old Cooper, Todd said.
From May through October, four days a week, Spencer drives to the course to work a job that he says is all about communication and knowing the greens.
Spencer likes to break the ice with players by introducing himself and asking a few short questions. From there, he gauges whether the player is more focused on winning or having fun. That determines how much conversation is acceptable, he said.
“Maybe at the turn, because on Hole 6 I wait by a tree, I might look up their LinkedIn account to see what business they’re in so I have more to talk to them about,” he said.
Beyond conversation, a caddie carries the bag, finds the ball, rakes the bunker and takes the flag stick out. Knowing the course is essential to helping players.
“We have to know the greens better than they do,” Spencer said.
That means pointing out the distance and elevation, taking into account the wind and the way the green is moving, he said. If it’s a member, Spencer will just give them the yardage and let them figure it out, but if it’s a guest, he’ll point in the direction of the hole, which can’t always be seen.
Caddying for a woman is different as the key boxes are closer to the hole.
“I ask for a club reference when looking for a shot, using what you hit with your pitching wedge as a reference” he said. “That gives me a viewpoint for what clubs you hit what distance.”
Until working as a caddie, Spencer didn’t know much about the course.
“I knew it was good for connections, and I thought it was a good idea to look at for my first job,” he said. “Every day, there are new people since members bring a lot of guests. It’s known as a networking course.”
That networking aided Blake, as he caddied for Josh Doyle and ended up with a summer internship at Josh Doyle Homes – an experience he loved – while on break from studying finance at the University of Cincinnati.
As a bonus, Spencer also learned that Inverness has an Evans Scholar program, in which full tuition and housing scholarships are given to to high-achieving caddies with limited financial means and is based on a strong caddie record, academics and outstanding character. He plans to apply as he looks toward majoring in finance, business or marketing next year.
While Spencer doesn’t play golf seriously – just for fun – he praises this year’s AW golf team, which is looking “very good.” Instead, he plays lacrosse as a midfielder and is involved in DECA, competing in business-related categories.
The experience of caddying has helped him in many aspects, but mostly in communication, he said.
“I feel like I’m a lot better when talking to someone face to face,” he said. “It helps me when meeting new people.”
Being a part of the Solheim Cup – including volunteering throughout Sunday in the concessions – was an experience that will definitely go on his resume. Just working at Inverness Club is a great opportunity, he said.
“It’s so beautiful out there. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like a job,” he said.