July 29, 2019 will always be a red-letter date for Ashridge PGA Professional Stuart Hall.
In the weeks leading up to it, Hall was planning to spend the day competing in an East region pro-am at The Grove.
However circumstances beyond the 29-year-old’s control resulted in him having to pull out, in the process incurring a withdrawal cost.
Understandably it felt like a bit of a blow and not just financially. But in this instance as one door shut another opened – quite literally.
For on Friday, July 26 American LPGA golfer Cheyenne Knight walked into Ashridge’s pro shop enquiring about a caddie for the following Monday’s Women’s British Open Final Qualifying at the Hertfordshire club.
Hall informed her that their list of professional caddies had all been taken. The pair chatted for another five or ten minutes and a connection was forged. So much so that towards the end of the conversation Knight, 22, asked Hall if he’d caddie for her.
He was intrigued by the prospect but at that point was unable to accept. Despite his initial plans for The Grove having fallen through Hall was still trying to raise a team. By that evening, though, he finally conceded it wasn’t going to happen. He messaged Knight, accepting her offer – and what a good decision it turned out to be for both of them.
Sunday saw the new player-caddie combination step out for a practice round. The next day Knight shot the lights out. A brilliant seven-under-par round of 65 meant she had earned her spot at Woburn, alongside the biggest names in women’s golf. Knight was heading for her first ever major – and so was Hall.
“Before you knew it, we won on the Monday,” he recalls. “After that she basically said ‘I really want you for the week’. I was tied up with work – I had loads of coaching all week. So it took a couple of hours to work out how to get around it with my boss Peter Cherry and Jess Heap (Hall’s fellow assistant PGA professional at Ashridge). They were really kind and covered the whole week.”
Hall’s whirlwind few days continued. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent practising at Woburn before the tournament started for real on the Thursday.
“Beforehand, when she was on the putting green I did get a little nervous – I was sort of feeling a little bit anxious,” he admits. “But once we’d got on that first tee I had a job to do and just got on with it. I felt calm and focussed – in the zone. I needed to be on it. I didn’t want her to have to worry about me. I wanted to make sure everything was done properly so she could just play.”
Knight, with her trusty bagman right beside her, made the halfway cut with a shot to spare. A level-par round on Saturday was followed by another on the final day, which she closed out with a four-footer in front of packed grandstands on the 18th at the Marquess Course.
All week it had been a real team effort as Knight and Hall went about their business. Club selection, strategy, reading the greens, encouragement: at his player’s invitation Hall was allowed to get right in the thick of the action.
“It was an incredible experience and one I’ll never forget,” says Hall. “I had a fantastic time.”
Unsurprisingly Hall has nothing but positives to share about his player. “Cheyenne was great to caddie for – a lovely girl. She’s a top player and I hope she goes far.”
Chances are Knight would be similarly complimentary about the Ashridge man who seamlessly swapped PGA professional duties for A1 bagman responsibilities. Indeed not only did she write a very nice thank-you note for Hall, but she also got her request in for Hall to caddie at Royal Troon in 2020.
Oh, and for those wondering where Knight eventually finished – she was tied 51st, earning $14,585. Suffice to say Hall’s percentage will surely have been more than enough to cover that Grove Pro-Am withdrawal cost!