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Columbus golfer Reid Martin trades caddy bib for PGA Tour player gig at John Deere

Reid Martin

Reid Martin

The PGA Tour website includes biographical information on every player. Tiger Woods’ personal profile runs 157 words, not counting his many wins and awards.

Then you click on “Reid Martin.”

Age: 31; Birthday: July 14, 1991; Plays from: Kirkland, Washington.

That’s it. Some information isn’t even correct. Martin, who lives in Columbus, plays out of NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury. Otherwise, his bio looks like Morse code without the dots.

turned pro (–)

Birthplace (–)

College (–)

Events played (–)

Official money (–)

Move over, tour, it’s time to meet Mr. Dash.

Before we get into Martin’s back story, his current situation should be addressed. The former caddy on the professional men’s and women’s tours teed off Thursday in the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois, his first PGA Tour event as a player. After nearly 10 years of toting the bag for others, Martin is now swinging the club for himself.

And swinging it well. Earlier this week in his first attempt at “Monday qualifying,” the native of Mukilteo, Washington, shot a 10-under-par 62 to earn one of four spots reserved for “extras” in the John Deere field.

But finishing first at the Monday qualifier wasn’t even Martin’s serendipity moment. That came last Thursday, when needing to pre-qualify for the Monday qualifier his 3-foot par putt barely sneaked into the right side of the cup.

“If that 3-footer lips out I don’t get into the Monday qualifier and I don’t shoot 62,” Martin said Wednesday. “I got done with the round and it was pretty surreal.”

Unreal is a better way to describe Martin’s journey from touted high school player to so-so college player to assistant pro at a Florida course to a nine-month stint trying to make it as a professional player, to caddying for a friend in Europe, then for Mark Hubbard on the Korn Ferry and PGA tours. Finally, in 2021, Martin switched from men’s to women’s golf, caddying for Ryann O’Toole for a year before retiring from the trip.

“I took nine months off, because I was mentally exhausted and needed a refresher,” he said, explaining the caddy life meant sometimes working more than a month without a day off if your boss made four or five cuts in a row.

Reid was living in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. His fiance, Sarah Phillips, lived in Columbus. His heart won out over sea, sand and sunshine.

“I got to the point of, ‘Why not just move there?’ he said of the decision to leave Florida for the Arch City. “I packed up shop in about 48 hours and got out of town.”

Martin wasn’t sure where his future would lead, but Phillips had an inkling. She encouraged him to return to the golf course, but this time as a player.

“I got back into it and found a love for the game I never had,” he said, explaining that after joining NorthStar in the spring of 2022 he played nearly 140 rounds over 165 days.

Over that stretch he made a bunch of birdies, and just as many friends. Golf and social gathering galvanized a thought: why not give professional golf one more shot?

“Sarah and I come back from the Daytona 500 in February and she starts drafting stuff to other people, selling shares of me, sponsorship of me,” he said. “We did that and got amazing feedback, got almost everything we were asking for, which has helped take the weight off my shoulders so Sarah (Phillips works at Worthington Industries) is not having to find everything.”

Before you say, ‘Sign me up for that deal,’ realize the spigot typically eventually turns off if the “stock” tanks after failing over and over to qualify for tournaments, which is why playing in the John Deere Classic is so huge. It shows friends the fruit of their faith in Martin is ripening.

In that way, Martin is Columbus’ Michael Block, the club pro who gained fame in May by tying for 15th at the PGA Championship. Except Block was already known in California as an excellent amateur player. Martin was known only as a full-time caddy who was an average college player at Central Florida.

Imagine the reaction of other caddies when he showed up on the practice range at the John Deere. The looper they suddenly knew was a long-hitting player in dress pants and golf spikes.

“Funny, a handful of those caddies came up and asked who I was caddying for this week,” he said. “We chuckled about it.”

Everyone has welcomed Martin like he truly belongs, which he believes he does.

“I think they know I play good golf,” he said, adding, “I want to win.”

Why not aim high? If you don’t believe you can, then most definitely you won’t. Plus, having experienced tour competition from the caddy side gives Martin a sort of inside information attitude he plans to use to full advantage.

“I’ve always had the talent. I never had the golf brains I do now,” he said. “It’s very lucky I was a caddy, because I can pick apart the course on my own. At the end of the day I’ve done so much of that stuff, it’s almost natural to do a pre-shot routine where I’m figuring out the shot. The caddy brain comes out when I hit shots in a tournament.”

But just in case, Martin has Columbus friend Gavin Pulliam on his bag this week. Pulliam, a bartender at NorthStar who also has caddied at Scioto and Muirfield Village, has the kind of low-key personality Martin wants beside him.

“I’ve had to teach him a few things, but he absolutely wants to learn,” Martin said. “I had to learn from someone, too. As long as the work ethic is there – I can get my own yardage numbers – I don’t see a problem.”

How could he? Martin is living the dream. His job is golf, where for a change he gets to swing clubs instead of cleaning them.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: pga tour welcomes former caddy Reid Martin to John Deere Classic