BANDON — Long before he built Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Mike Keiser was a caddie growing up. And he has always held a soft spot for loopers — as caddies are casually called.
That’s why he has encouraged such a strong caddie program at the resort. And that’s why this week Bandon Dunes hosted caddies from three other clubs for the third Looper Cup.
“It’s been amazing,” said John “JD” Delventhal, who captained the team from Pine Valley Golf Club of New Jersey. “We don’t (usually) get to do stuff like this.”
Six caddies each from Pine Valley, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Mayacama — another California club — and Bandon Dunes competed over three days, using all four of the 18-hole courses at the resort, as well as a fun team event on the 13-hole Bandon Preserve. Though the competition was fierce, the event was more about fun, a celebration of the caddie profession.
“It’s fun to meet caddies from other places,” said Jason Humphrey, who captained the Bandon Dunes team. “We have a lot in common to talk about during the round.”
And after the round.
The tournament wrapped up Wednesday in a rainy and windy round of singles matches at Bandon Trails. Earlier, the teams competed in fourball (best ball) matches at Old Macdonald on Monday and fourball at Bandon Dunes and foursomes (alternate shot) at Pacific Dunes on Tuesday.
The weather was remarkably dry for the practice round Sunday and the first two days of competition, though Tuesday’s matches were played in high winds. Wednesday was the first wet day, and the caddies still had a blast.
“We got three beautiful days of weather,” said Danny Maier from Mayacama. “We were waiting for the rain. We were expecting it.”
Mayacama was a newcomer to the tournament this year. It started with just Bandon Dunes and Pine Valley, where Keiser is a member. Last year, Pebble Beach was added and Mayacama this year. Keiser likes to play the course near Berkeley, Calif., when he is visiting a daughter who lives in the area.
“It was great to come up here,” said Maier, who heaped praise on the resort.
“The hospitality of everybody up here (was great),” he said, mentioning the golf staff, the hospitality staff and the restaurant crews. “It’s all a great group of people from head to toe.”
Pebble Beach captain Casey Boyns, who grew up near the resort on the Monterey Peninsula and has been a caddie there for more than 35 years, was not part of the team last year, but has been to Bandon Dunes several other times.
“I love this place,” he said.
Delventhal was part of the first Pine Valley group to play two years ago, but didn’t make the trip last year.
“I wanted to come back,” said Delventhal, who has been a caddie at Pine Valley for 11 years and is also the assistant caddie master for the club.
Pine Valley, which closes in early November every year, has about 70 caddies and have a tournament to choose who gets to come. Mayacama picked its players from an annual tournament it has for its caddies. Pebble Beach wasn’t able to bring some of its best golfing caddies because of a tournament that started at that resort this week, Boyns.
It probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the team outcome, he said.
“There’s no way you can beat these guys here,” Boyns said of the Bandon Dunes caddies.
Bandon Dunes, which has more than 300 caddies during the summer season, had its own qualifying tournament on Old Macdonald. Humphrey shot a 64 to earn the role of captain, though he said the 71 he shot during his match in Wednesday’s conditions was a much better round.
Humphrey, who has been a caddie at the resort nearly continuously since it opened almost two decades ago, combined with teammates Juggy Heyn, Tyler Falk, Woody Woodburn, Kevin Rei and Kyle Crawford to dominate the competition. Bandon Dunes swept its team matches against Pine Valley, Mayacama and Pebble Beach and went 5-1 in the singles matches in the rain Wednesday. Pebble Beach and Mayacama tied for second for the week, each earning 7 ½ points. Pine Valley didn’t get a win until taking one of the singles matches, but that didn’t spoil the fun.
“Keep inviting us and we’ll keep showing up,” Delventhal said, adding “Hopefully next year we’ll score more than one point.”
Michael Chupka, the communications director for the resort, said the Looper Cup is one of Keiser’s top priorities to discuss on every visit and that Kesier would like to see it expanded.
“Mr. Keiser loves caddie programs. He loves supporting them and helping them grow,” Chupka said. “This event is near and dear to his heart.”
That’s not a surprise to Delventhal, who has met Keiser during a few of his visits to Pine Valley and had a chance to caddie for him as well.
“He’s awesome — a sweetheart,” Delventhal said. “It’s awesome, the fact that he treats his caddies so well.”
One thing Humphrey heard a lot this week is that the other caddies are envious of all that Bandon Dunes has to offer for its caddies, including a nice facility complete with kitchen, locker room and common room with TVs for the loopers before and after their rounds carrying bags for the resort guests.
The Looper Cup is just another example of that, and one Keiser has been able to share with the other clubs.
“I would love to see it continue,” Humphrey said. “I’d love to see more teams here.
"Anything that’s positive for caddies, I love.”