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Meet a Hall Of Fame Caddy Master

 

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Photo by: Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune, Google Images

By Alexander Kitchie

The name Greg Kunkel might not ring any bells, but to many people of the North Shore community, Kunkel is like family. For the past 50 years, Kunkel has worked at Sunset Ridge Country Club in Northfield, Illinois, and for 35 of those years he has served as the club’s Caddy Master. Kunkel has caddied for players in all different levels of golf including, amateur, professionals and members of Sunset Ridge.

 

In August of 2014, Kunkel was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He took a leave from work at Sunset Ridge Country Club and went into treatment at Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Illinois.

While in the hospital, the network Kunkel has built over the past half century rallied in support of him. They even made wristbands for him with the phrase “Kunks Strong.” The donations from these bands went into the Caddy Scholarship program at Sunset Ridge.

Knuckle is an ambassador in his sport; he has covered all different angles in golf. He was a great player and one of the best caddies to grace the North Shore.

Caddy for Professionals

“I have caddied in 9 professional tournaments. We have made the cut 8 of the 9 times. We won two Western Opens in my tenure as a caddy.”

He was recently an inductee into the Caddy Hall of Fame in May of 2015 in the Western Golf Association. Knuckle will join an elite group with names like Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Watson.

 

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Photo by: Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune, Google Images

Fundraising

Greg is frequently asked to help raise money for various foundations. He has previously done a lot of work with the Evan Scholars program.

Greg and his group of caddies at Sunset Ridge make up one of the strongest caddy programs in the country.

Q & A

What drew you to the game of golf?

I have been caddying and playing golf since I was a teenager. I love the game and I love being the Caddy Master here at Sunset Ridge .

 

Why do you love golf so much?

I have always been interested in sports. I grew up playing football and basketball, but then I started playing golf, and I loved it.

 

Did you ever think you would make it to caddy on the PGA tour?

I never thought I would make it to the tour. I only wanted to be here at Sunset Ridge taking care of kids, getting them the scholarships they need. That’s what I really enjoyed. Helping kids learn the game of golf through caddying. Here at Sunset we have one of the best caddy programs I think in the country. We give out so many Evan Scholarship programs each year and help raise money for so many others.

Did you ever think that the cancer was going to take your life?

I am strong person and I have too much to live for. I have a granddaughter now. How can I leave this place? There’s too much for me to still do.

How did you feel after the operation to remove the cancer?

I was in shock. My doctor told me that I was cancer free. And I was like, what? I have to say thank you to all the people out there supporting me and for prayer. If it wasn’t for prayer I wouldn’t be here right now.

How did your family deal with you having cancer?

At first it was really tough on my wife Debbie and my children. It is never an easy situation for anyone to deal with. With all the support I received from friends around the North Shore and the community here at Sunset it gave me hope, and I think it gave my family hope too.

How has your experience here at Sunset been?

The people here at Sunset Ridge are unlike any other, they treat me like I’m part of their family. And not just the club, the entire membership loves me. It’s like I’m everyone’s uncle out here, they come see me when they have problems that don’t even pertain to golf. Haha

Did you always want to stay in the caddy business for life?

I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do, I loved being at Sunset Ridge. They became my family. It is the best job I could ask for. I wouldn’t have traded any other life for the one I’m living.

Did you think that your golf/ caddy master days were over at Sunset Ridge?

There were only a couple of times that I doubted if I would work here for a long stint. But as time went on I began to love coming to work every day and loved the people that were around me. Golf is my life and my life is here at Sunset Ridge.

What do you look for in a person to be a good fit for caddying at Sunset Ridge?

This process is easy for me. After being in the industry for 50 years I feel like I know what I’m doing. Most of the time I’m willing to take in anybody that wants to caddy. That’s my goal, to make cadies get better everyday.

Have you ever had to fire caddies?

This happens more than I would like it to. Sometimes there are good eggs and they hatch into a beautiful chicken and then sometimes you get a cracked egg that you didn’t know about. I usually try and give them a chance but if they screw up. I’ll give them the boot.

What was your most memorable experience as a caddy master at Sunset Ridge?

Some of my favorite moments would be when Michael Jordan would come to the course and play. This was back in the 90’s when he was playing basketball games at night. He would come in the morning and then go play his games at night. You get to meet a lot of celebrities here on the course.

Video on how to be a caddy.

 

  • written by Alexander Kitchie on October 6th, 2015
  • posted in Edit
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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.