Congressional Country Club caddy Kenny Gantt brings home more than his share of winning golfers. After observing the bubbly 28-year-old, who looks like an NFL defensive tackle, it is easy to see why.
Amid the golfer's constant battle against negativism and pressure stands Gantt, suggesting, wincing, joking - and working hard.
"Kenny is a very hard worker," said Wheeler Stewart, Congressional's teaching pro who won the recent Maryland, Open with Gantt as caddy. "That was the first time I ever played Hillendale, Kenny walked every step of the way before each round. He was out checking the pin placements and yardages.
"Kenny kept me loose."Go ahead and hit it, don't hold back," he would say. I would ask him the distance and he would tell me to the yard. When I was undecided about the club, I would ask him and we would make a joint decision. He takes it very seriously, he kind of gets into the feel of things. He is a very personable guy."
Gantt toted for Congressional's Mike Bittman when he won four matches before losing to Marty West in the final of the Maryland Amateur. When Ben Brundred lost a marathon 41-hole match in that tournament two years ago, Gantt was his man, for every hole.
"I keep of lot of them relaxed. I know pretty much what I'm talking about, although I'm not a good golfer myself," said Gantt, a former Marine, who is considering returning to college or joining the PGA Tour as caddy this autumn. Gantt is one of about 25 regular caddies at Congressional and says he earns $200 to $225 a week. He has caddied there for 15 years.
"Some people think caddies are a joke, a bunch of bums or drunks," he said, "but I take it very seriously. I dress well and take care of myself. The people downtown think I work at some desk job."
Charles Miller, also a regular caddy, hones his four handicap on Mondays when Congressional, this year for the first time, lets the caddies play.
"You can make more money caddying than you can at a regular job," claimed Miller.
Gantt added, "Golf is a game to be enjoyed, not to take out your anger on."
Only five area golfers - Jane and Lisa Abood of Kenwood, Nancy Maunder of Crofton, Chris Epperly of Army Navy and Aileen Kelly of Towson - shoot for two spots Tuesday at Columbia in qualifying for the U.S. Women's Amateur, Aug. 13-18 in Memphis.
Sally Voss of Congressional, who reached the round of 32 last year before losing to eventual winner Cathy Sherk, 3 and 2, is an automatic qualifier.... Golfer's aren't athletes? Don't tell it to Rob Black of Vienna, who last week added the District Amateur to his Virginia Open title. He is defending the Virginia Open title this weekend in Martinsville, Black's daily regimen includes running three to five miles a day with his 44-year-old father, a Marine Corps colonel. Then come push-ups, sit-ups and rope jumping before hitting practice balls at Army Navy...David Nocar of Severna Park, Scott Inman of Springfield, Webb Heintzelman of Gaithersburg, and John Cockrill of Arlington are area players in the USGA Junior Amateur at Moss Creek on Hilton Head Island, S.C., starting Tuesday.