AUGUSTA, Ga - Golf caddies are known for handing out life advice along with golf tips. It’s a mental sport, and getting your head clear helps. Caddies are there to make it happen. Drew Hinesley has plenty of wisdom to go around.
"It's been a bit of a whirlwind," said Hinesley.
The Conyers resident is caddying for amateur Bryson DeChambeau at The Masters, the first time Hinesley has worked at the prestigious tournament. He only locked down the job within the last month.
"He just made the most sense and did the right things and said the right things and we jelled really well together,” said DeChambeau, the reigning U.S. Amateur Champion.
That means Hinesley, who considers himself a bit of a golf historian, has only had a few weeks to wrap his mind around the chance of a lifetime at Augusta. As he’s walked the course, he’s been awed by Amen Corner, he’s imagined the famous shots he grew up watching and he’s reflected, often, on the road he walked to get here.
"Well I'm a recovering alcoholic,” said Hinesley. “If I can make it to July I have seven years of sobriety. That's a big part of it. I did a lot of things there, a lot of self-inflicted wounds. A lot of things ... just ego and pride and self-will got me in a lot of trouble."
Hinesley says his life turned around when he met his wife Stacie. She’ll be in the gallery watching this weekend, as will his beaming-like-birdies parents, who walked the course Wednesday snapping photos of their son in action.
"[Wednesday morning] was the real first time I got emotional, it was when I hugged my mother and father on the first tee,” said Hinesley with a tear in his eye. “It was like, 'whoa. Here we are.' It's pretty cool. We've been through a lot and it's neat to be here."
Hinesley says he doesn’t have all the answers now; what he’s better at, he says, is identifying problems and dealing with them. Not unlike golf, where he sees a lot of himself in the 22-year-old DeChambeau and hopes to be a resource as the golfer’s career starts to take off.
"It's been an interesting journey for him, but I think at the same time he's learned as much as I've learned from him as well,” said DeChambeau. “It's a win-win on both sides."
Coincidentally, Hinesley was born in Augusta, at St. Joseph Hospital (now called Trinity Hospital) about a 10 minute drive from Augusta National Golf Club. He’s traveled far more than miles, however, to get to the place he is today.
"The Good Lord has taken me through some pretty good highs and some pretty deep lows,” said Hinesley. “The whole time He's been preparing me, I believe, for this role with Bryson. It's pretty special for me because I know where I've been and it's a long way from this place."