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For a Masters Mom, White Overalls Instead of a Pink Slip
From:
Greg Schwem -- America's Favorite Corporate Funnyman Greg Schwem -- America's Favorite Corporate Funnyman
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Chicago , IL
Saturday, April 20, 2019

 

This column originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune April 16, 2019

Denise Jakows remembers well the days of caddying for her son in junior golf tournaments, laughing with other moms tasked with the same responsibilities for their boys.

“When the kids mishit a shot or a putt, they would blame the parents,” she recalled. “They’d get emotional and say, ‘You’re not caddying for me anymore.’ So, we would get fired every week.”

Fast-forward 20 years. Jakows’ son, Brooks Koepka , has captured three of golf’s prestigious major titles: the PGA Championship and back-to-back U.S. Opens. He came to Augusta National last week ranked fourth in the world and was considered a favorite to win the coveted Masters championship and the green jacket that accompanies it. But he found time to reinstate Jakows as his caddy, inviting her to shoulder his bag in the always entertaining Par-3 tournament, the day before the Masters officially begins. Players have also been known to let their wives, children and grandchildren carry the bag during the Par-3 festivities. Koepka’s close friend Dustin Johnson went the mom route too; his mother Kandee was on his bag for the hour-long contest.

So, what does a mom worry about as she prepares for that esteemed honor?

“Well, the normal hair and makeup. And looking nice,” Jakows said.

There were also the white overalls, the official uniform of all Masters caddies, to contend with.

“They’re not the most flattering garment in the world for women,” Jakows said, adding she wanted to wear “as little as possible” underneath the bulky outfit.

“You don’t want to look like the Michelin tire man,” she said.

Unflattering as they were, Jakows freely admitted she wanted nothing more than to slip on those white overalls. Her 2017 invitation was postponed when rain washed out the Par-3 tournament. An injured Koepka skipped last year’s Masters. Waiting for her moment felt like a lifetime, Jakows said.

“You never know if you’re going to get invited back,” she added.

Tied for the lead after the halfway point of this year’s tournament, Koepka eventually finished second to Tiger Woods . While Jakows said she was happy for Woods and his family, she admitted the final result “stings a bit” because Koepka came so close. But his recent stellar play in major championships ensures he has punched his ticket to the Masters for years to come.

Jakows, however, knows she will most likely be “fired” again as his caddy, as Koepka’s girlfriend, Jena Sims, awaits her turn in the Par-3. Jakows said she made the most of her opportunity, soaking in not just the adulation of thousands of Masters fans lining the course, but also getting the chance to actually speak with her son, something she normally doesn’t do during tournaments.

“It’s just the pattern we’ve developed over the years. We don’t talk,” she said. “He’s very insular and very focused, and I don’t want to interrupt that.”

But after years of serving as chauffeur, cook, schedule maker and sometimes caddy as Koepka rose through the junior ranks, Jakows admits the transition was difficult when her son turned professional and swing coaches, a putting coach, a chef, a manager, a full-time caddy and a physical therapist joined the team.

“When they turn professional, the hardest thing is staying out of the way,” she said.

But Jakows, courtesy of Brooks, took center stage at the Par-3 contest’s final hole. Faced with an 8-footer for birdie, Koepka handed the putter to his mom.

“Make the putt,” he told Jakows, who doesn’t play golf.

“I just tapped this thing and it went all the way across the green,” she said with a laugh. “I thought it was in the hole.”

That evening, the insular, focused Koepka, just hours from teeing off in golf’s most prestigious event, broke the “no communication” rule with Jakows.

“He texted and said, ‘thanks for being out there with me'” she said.

For a mom, that message beats a pink slip any day.

 
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