June 23, 2009

Peter Henesy

Locker-room talk is this pro's first language, but there's nothing muny about his valet ways

Grillroom:__ How did you manage to get this gig? __

Henesy: I've been doing this at Hempstead [N.Y.] G&CC for 15 years. Not far from here. Very nice club, a Tillinghast course. One of the members, Joe Cantwell, was with the USGA when the Open came to Bethpage in 2002. They needed a locker-room guy. I interviewed, got the job. And I'm back.

What are your duties?

Same as at my club. I like to think I treat the members there the same way I treat these famous players. I'm here to do whatever they ask. I take care of their stuff, of course, but if they want to know a good restaurant, I try to help.

Pro golfers are pampered. Even they admit they are spoiled.

I don't really see that side of them. The ones who really interest me are the amateurs. They come here and are amazed at how much stuff is free and how so many things are done for them. We take care of their mail, their dry cleaning and, of course, their shoes.

Which can be hectic.

In 2002, Friday was really bad weather, if you recall. And when so many guys finish their second round and miss the cut, they usually want to leave in a hurry. That's a lot of wet and dirty shoes at one time. I have two guys helping me.

Who cleans your shoes?

I usually do my own before I go home. Long hours for the week, maybe from 5 a.m. until night.

How do Tiger and Phil treat you?

Tiger was in the Sunday before for a practice round. He said hello, that he remembered me from 2002. I'm not awestruck by Tiger or Phil, but I am a fan. I also respect what they have done for the sport, how golf has grown since they've been around.

Do you ask golfers for anything?

Never. If they offer to sign a hat or take a picture, that's great. But I don't seek autographs, souvenirs. Being here is an honor in itself.

The USGA pays you a salary, but can you give me an idea what guys like Tiger or Phil might tip you at week's end? Or what a U.S. Open winner typically leaves for you?

No.