PINEHURST — Knowing a thing or two about the layout of one of golf’s most infamous and respected landscapes, Greg Tew has built a reputation as a go-to caddie at Pinehurst Resort.
A resident of Hamlet, Tew has caddied at Pinehurst for nearly a quarter century, starting in 1999.
As a professional caddie, Tew’s job responsibilities see him assist not only resort guests but also amateur golfers.
His most recent pairing was Amanda Sambach earlier this month, as Pinehurst was the site for the 120th annual Women’s North and South Amatuer Championship, played from July 10 through July 16.
The field of 120 golfers, whose handicap index was 5.0 or less, played two days of stroke play on the No. 2 and No. 4 courses to determine a field of 32 for the championship match play.
All of the championship matches were played on No. 2, Pinehurst’s “centerpiece” par-72 course designed by Donald Ross and a course that Tew knows well.
Sambach, a three-time high school state champion at the Cannon School in Concord, is a sophomore at the University of Virginia. Having recently moved to Pinehurst, Sambach’s impressive resume helped her secure a third-place finish.
“Amanda’s family reached out to CaddieMaster the week of July 4th looking for someone to partner with for the tournament,” Tew explained. “She’s a really good player and needed someone good to take care of her. Amanda is a top golfer, so I knew she had some game and that this would be a good experience.
“We finished third and it was really a lot of fun,” he continued. “Amanda is an outstanding young lady who has a really promising game. She’s serious about golf, very professional and I know she’ll play in the LPGA. She’s so worthy of finishing third.”
An All-ACC selection as a freshman, Sambach shot an even par (72) in both rounds of stroke play, landing her as the No. 19 seed heading into the 32-player field.
Posting upsets in her first two matches, Sambach defeated No. 14 Zoe Slaughter (Houston, Texas) 2&1 in the round of 32, and followed with another win, 3&2, over No. 3 Zoe Antoinette Campos (Valencia, Calif.) in the round of 16.
Moving onto the quarterfinals, Sambach defeated No. 27 Jennifer Cleary (Wilmington, Del.) 2&1. That set her up with No. 7 Megan Schofill (Monticello, Fla.), who Sambach was eliminated by 3&2 in the semifinal round.
Tew said Sambach’s ability to drive the ball consistently on the fairways, coupled with her approach shot with a trusty nine iron, helped the duo stay in the hunt.
“Amanda hits the driver like no one I’ve ever caddied for,” Tew said. “It’s ridiculous how good she is with the driver and she hit nearly every fairway all week.
“She could fly her nine iron 127 yards, so we decided to play her favorite clubs,” he added. “Being able to rely on that and have a confirmed (yardage) number on shots, that was a big advantage.”
In a week full of memorable shots, Tew said he and Sambach treasured the “par putts that kept the rounds going.” He said that Sambach even quoted herself as the “best par putter” on the course.
“Amanda never gave up on a hole and she has a sick short game,” he explained. “My favorite shots of hers were the up and downs and how she managed the golf course throughout the week.”
Two weeks prior to her tournament at No. 2, Sambach caddied for David Ford in the Men’s North and South Amateur Championship. With Pinehurst as her home resort, and the experience of caddying for Ford, Sambach was able to survey the course ahead of time.
“With our combined knowledge of the course, it really allowed us to gel well together,” Tew said. “We were able to communicate on the way to the ball and discuss angles, yardage and paint a picture of what the best shot would be.
“That helped both of us stay really relaxed,” he added. “We trusted each other and our know-how of the course allowed us to simplify each shot. We were able to focus on our notes from the practice rounds and the whole process was pretty simple.”
While being able to read the turtleback greens at No. 2 and advise golfers about wind direction and shot yardage are key components to Tew’s job as a caddie, he said his success on the course wouldn’t happen without the ability to form a working relationship with golfers.
“When I caddy for a player that is of Amanda’s caliber, I know they’re able to do what they have to in order to shoot well,” Tew said. “When I’m paired with someone like Amanda, and we’re on the same page from the start, that relationship makes every round easier.
“We started our relationship by not second guessing one another, and it paid off,” he closed. “Amanda and I gave each other feedback all week long and it flowed over into match play, which made the whole experience really, really fun.”