Barry Lane sank a tap-in par putt on the 18th hole to finish his round Thursday, walked back to his bag, replaced the cover on his putter and gave his caddie a peck on the cheek.
Lane’s wife, Camilla, is caddying for the 55-year-old English professional at the U.S. Senior Open this week. There is nothing gimmicky about the arrangement. They were married in 2005, and Camilla Lane said she started caddying off and on for Barry the following year. So far this year, Barry said, it’s been “pretty much every week.”
“I think it’s much less (nerve-wracking),” said Camilla Lane, 46. “Because when you walk around and just watch, you have no idea (what’s happening). I think it’s better to be involved, because you see where the ball is lying, and you do things. You keep your brain busy.”
In Thursday’s mid-morning heat, Camilla, wearing a white polo shirt and light blue hat over her short blond hair, toted Lane’s bag across Del Paso Country Club and marked yardage at each hole in a small notebook. At No. 10, the Lanes conferred quietly before Barry’s tee shot, a straight line down the middle of the fairway. At No. 16, she tossed a few blades of grass in the air to gauge the wind. On the 18th green, she crouched to study the angle of a putt, while Barry surveyed it from the opposite side.
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“I ask him the target on every shot, just so he keeps the target in mind,” Camilla said. “And then to keep up, I think, is important. I often go either ahead a little bit, or I’m just there, so I’m never slow. I think he doesn’t like if I’m slow.”
On Lane’s website, he says if he wasn’t a pro golfer he would be an airline pilot (he confirmed it Thursday, saying: “Seeing the world and flying these great big birds? It would be beautiful!”). He made a quick ascent in Thursday’s opening round, with birdies on holes 5, 6 and 7, and was at 4 under par after 12 holes. Bogeys on 13 and 14 leveled him out somewhat, and he finished the round with a 2-under 68.
“I got off to a great start the front nine, and I dropped a couple on the back nine, but not with bad shots,” Lane said. “I just missed a couple greens, and it becomes very difficult around here when you miss a couple of greens. All in all, it was a good start to the week.”
After Thursday’s morning tee time, Lane expressed some trepidation about his scheduled 2:09 p.m. start in the second round during the afternoon heat. The Lanes spend much of their time in relatively cooler Sweden; Camilla was born there and worked as an engineer with Saab. She said she left her 60-hour-a-week job in 2004, partly to travel with Barry, who played on the European Tour before joining the European Senior Tour.
“She’s a great caddie,” Lane said. “She knows my personality, she knows my game, she knows what to say and what not to say. She knows me inside-out.
“And I know a lot of the players could never, ever have their wife caddying for them. But I think it’s absolutely great. We travel together, spend so much time together. We get on great.”
Lane has had a successful golf career. He won four European Tour events from 1988 to 1994, including the 1993 European Masters, and competed in the 1993 Ryder Cup. When he and Camilla started partnering on the course, Lane said, one result was Camilla realizing “how serious (golf) is” – but another was his realization that it doesn’t always have to be.
“It really helped me out because she was so relaxed about it,” Lane said. “And I was the one who was getting stressed out about it, but actually it’s only a game. Whether we play it for a living or not, it’s only a game.”
Perspective can be a good thing. In the bag Camilla carried Thursday were two clubs with stuffed-animal dogs for head covers. Those were Camilla’s idea. Her parents own a West Highland Terrier named Ludwig, and she and Barry have a small Russian breed that goes by Alfred. So she found substitutes for both.
“It gives me something to look at,” she said, “when it doesn’t go so well out there.”