Simpson golfer walks with the pros on tour

by Ben Frotscher

When you think of Rick Rhoden, you think of the former major league baseball player that pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees and Houston Astros from 1974 to 1989.

Over his 16-year career in the major leagues, Rhoden won 151 games, was a member of the 1977 and 1978 National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers and won three consecutive Silver Slugger Awards between 1984 and 1986 as the best hitting pitcher in the National League

Rick Rhoden is now 50 years old and has turned to the sport of golf and the Champions Tour. Prior to turning 50, Rhoden was celebrity golf’s all-time winner and money leader while compiling over two million dollars in earning and over 35 wins over 12 years.

In late August, Rhoden came to the Glen Oaks Country Club to play at the Allianz Championship in West Des Moines and was in need of a caddy. This was only his second event on the Champions Tour, which is the tour for men 50 and older.

This is how Simpson senior, Matt Zeller, got his chance to caddy for the pitching legend and now up-and-coming senior golfer.

“My girlfriend works at Glen Oaks Country Club and he came to the tournament without a caddy,” said Zeller. “He stopped in the pro shop and asked for some names and she gave him mine.”

Zeller got the call and jumped at the chance to carry the bag for the legendary pitcher. He was asked to do basic things that a caddy would do such as carry the bag, clean the clubs and maybe make a reinforcing opinion on club selection for a shot or which way a putt broke on the green.

When asked about the most difficult part of the experience, Zeller said that carrying the bag in the extreme heat was not a fun task.

All the heat was worth it for Zeller when Rhoden finished in a tie for fifth place at 9-under-par and making $61,750. Zeller would not divulge how much he actually made for the weekend of work but said he was compensated well for the work he did, and would be willing to caddy for Rhoden again in a second.

“The best thing about the experience was watching a golfer that was really good and could control each one of his shots,” said Zeller. “Rhoden was a great golfer and it was fun to watch first-hand at this level of play.”

Zeller said that this experience was very beneficial to his golf game and it would help him tremendously in the future. “I learned a lot more in caddying for three days than I would have in 1,000 lessons.”