Caddies recall false alarm ‘missile alert’ during 2018 Sony Open

John Rathouz
Caddie John Rathouz with Seamus Power. Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

John Rathouz, caddie for Seamus Power, who finished T54 at the Sony Open:

What do I remember most about the Hawaiian Missile Crisis? We made the cut!

Seeing the text, “INCOMING BALLISTIC MISSILE… THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” was surreal to read. My initial reaction was, “F**k! Of all the weeks, you had to be in Hawaii on this one!”

However, my roommate Lance and I were both calm (just like you’d like to be on the back nine on Sunday). Thought about North Korea. Thought about Pearl Harbor and World War II. Thought about my girlfriend and family back home. But something didn’t seem quite right.

I remembered a volunteer earlier in the week telling us about how the government had been testing the air raid sirens a lot over the last few weeks and months after them not working for years. Cleaning out the cobwebs. Well, we didn’t hear any sirens and outside it looked like a perfectly normal January, Waikiki day — 85 and sunny. Hmmm.

 I remember the hotel alarms going off and them making an announcement, but not really knowing what to do or where to go. We didn’t practice this one in school. Was the entire island just going to blow up, or was it going to be more random? I checked in with the pro to see if he was still expecting me to be waiting for him outside the locker room even though we could possibly be getting bombed.

He said, “yes.”

 No, he didn’t, haha.

However, it appeared we were still both concerned about missing our tee time with so many FedEx Cup points on the line. Thankfully, the PGA Tour sent us a text that the third round was delayed. Solid call. Turned on the TV. Nothing. Packed my backpack with some insulin, a few snacks, change of clothes, and water — should be good to go to survive. Haha. Thought about calling my girlfriend, but I didn’t want her to panic, and although I was trying to be proactive, my instinct was still that there was nothing to worry about. I certainly heard about it from her later!

Eventually, the local news was covering the story but didn’t have much to say. I also remember there being some sort of time component involved, like, “30 minutes to detonation.” And then, like a passing Nebraska tornado, it was over, with no physical damage. We got the all clear and Lance and I were thankful and could kind of laugh about it.

I remember hearing later that another caddie made a shirt that said, “I survived the 2018 Hawaiian Missile Crisis” or something and getting a lot of compliments on the street (Editor’s note: More on that coming up below).

It was certainly a day those who were there will never forget.

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