OAKMONT, Pa. — Four weeks ago, Austin Greaser was able to use his connections to secure a practice round at Oakmont Country Club in preparation for the U.S. Amateur and, needing a fourth for his group, the course paired him with Carter Pitcairn.
While playing, Greaser noticed that the senior from Central Catholic High School, who also serves as a caddie at the club, had the right demeanor. And then came a question that would change Pitcairn’s life.
Will you caddie the U.S. Amateur for me?
The answer was a fast ‘yes’ and the pair were able to make a run to the finals before falling 2 and 1 to James Piot in Sunday’s 36-hole showdown.
“It’s pretty special, because it’s something I hope I can do, be in (Greaser’s) shoes someday and learn how to do it,” Pitcairn said of his experience. “It instills a belief in myself that I can do it, too. It’s golfers playing the game we love out there.”
Pitcairn described his emotions as he helped Greaser to victory in a Saturday semifinal contest against Travis Vick, where momentum was trending in the wrong direction.
A quick conversation after the 10th hole led to Greaser winning the next four. When the pendulum swung back the other way, with Vick rallying back, Pitcairn told his man, “Hey, let’s do this, we’re here right now.”
Staying in the moment, Greaser hit a shot in front of the par-4 17th green and would close out the match.
“It was one of the coolest celebrations and everyone was so fired up,” a smiling Pitcairn recalled.
At Central Catholic, Pitcairn is coached by Corey O’Connor who is currently a member of Pittsburgh’s City Council and whose late father Bob served as the city’s mayor.
“He’s one of the best guys I know, just so laid back,” said Pitcairn of his coach. “We have a good time and just go out and play golf at the end of the day.”
Pitcairn has determined that he will play golf collegiately, though he has yet to decide where that will be, though he hopes he can follow in Greaser’s footsteps someday and achieve success at the highest amateur level.
Together, the pair were able to share a love for Oakmont, where Pitcairn has been a member for the last few years. Standing in front of the clubhouse after Sunday’s final, he said loves the course because of how different each of the holes are and also how demanding it is.
Oakmont forces a certain level of patience, which is what drew Greaser to Pitcairn.
“I felt like for a caddie he was very good for me, a very calm kid, and kind of knows what to say at the right time,” Greaser said. “He knows this course like the back of his hand. I wanted to get him on the bag and heck of a run. We’ll probably be good friends for the rest of our lives.”
Pitcairn considers both his short game and putting strong suits, though a certain balance is required between player and caddie when it comes time for a read.
That balance never proved to be an issue between this pair.
“He knew when to tell me to go with my feel or go with what I see,” Greaser said. “But if he felt I was off, he would jump in and say ‘Look, I’ve seen this putt before and it’s doing a little differently then what you see.’ ”
The two do plan to stay in touch and with Greaser earning potential opportunities at both the Masters and U.S. Open, there is a potential that Pitcairn’s services will be needed again. Pittsburgh Golf Now can report that Greaser has invited Pitcairn to join him at Augusta National next year.
Moving forward, Greaser stated that Pitcairn is welcome to reach out at any time and the former expressed a desire to help him.
“I hope he’s on this stage someday holding that (Havemeyer) Trophy at some point in his career,” Greaser said.
Putting a bow on the week, Pitcairn could not help but smile at the journey he was a part of this week. It was a journey filled with success, plenty of rain, 134 holes and around 30 total miles of on-course walking.
Pitcairn considers himself fortunate to have been on the bag this week and only provides more drive for what is potentially to come.
“I got to experience the peak of amateur golf and not many people get to do what I do,” he said. “I am just really lucky to be here. It gives me the belief that I can do this too. It was the coolest week of my life.”