September 30, 2016 | 4 p.m.
By Jared Johnson, assistant athletic director for sports information and marketing
Bethel University men's golfer Alex Case had the opportunity of a lifetime this week, as the senior captain was asked to caddie in the 2016 Ryder Cup Celebrity Challenge. Case, who has caddied for eight years at the prestigious Hazeltine National Golf Course, received his most memorable loop when caddying for Huey Lewis Tuesday. Not only was he with the famous singer and songwriter, but he was also in final group with Bill Murray (actor), Paul O'Connell (professional rugby player), and Niall Horen (member of English-Irish pop band, One Direction).
Case's unforgettable experience was a result of a long-standing relationship with the course, as he had been caddying since the age of 13.
"I used to ride my bike to the caddie shack each morning to try and get a loop for the day," Case says. "Over time, I developed great friendships—both with fellow caddies and my boss—which eventually led to my boss, Brian, texting me two weeks ago and asking if I wanted to caddie in this event. I gladly accepted the invitation."
The Chaska, Minnesota, native had a number of surreal moments throughout the day, but Case commented that being with the four celebrity golfers gave him a new perspective on people with fame.
"Mr. Lewis was a cool, humble guy, and someone that I enjoyed getting to know," Case says. "Bill (Murray) was entertaining. He never missed an opportunity to interact with the fans and every crowd went nuts for him. But what was special to me was his genuine interest in each of the four caddies and his desire to get to know us. Huey kept telling me, 'God only made one Bill Murray in this world,' and I got to see why first-hand."
Being a caddie for Tuesday's Celebrity Challenge was voluntary for Case, but the senior business major commented that the experience had many perks that you couldn't put a price tag on.
"I got to walk inside the ropes and feel what it's like to be in front of thousands of people at a major golf event. But perhaps even better was meeting other celebrities outside of my group on the range and putting green. I'll never forget conversations with individuals such as Michael Phelps, Rob Riggle, and John Regis."
Case's interaction with Phelps went beyond the practice surface, though, as he witnessed the 23-time gold medalist's pre-game routine.
"Our group was right behind Michael, so we were able to see him on the first tee box. Right before he was announced, he told people next to us that he was nervous and needed to step aside for a little pep talk. So he stepped to within 5-10 feet of me and gave himself a pre-game pump up immediately before his name was announced. He then proceeded to pipe a drive down the middle of the fairway and I walked up to the box in awe of what I just saw."
Case recounts that he's had many memorable experiences as a caddie, but that none will top Tuesday's round.
"I've walked that course a couple hundred times, but this was definitely the best one. After learning that Hazeltine had secured the 2016 Ryder Cup back in 2009, I couldn't wait for the event, and having the chance to caddie made this a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience."
"There's no question that this was the loop of my career," Case says. "And there's no better way to end my career as a caddie on."