Rusty ‘Hoss’ Uresti has caught for Roger Clemens, was there for Tiger’s Phoenix Open ace and has carved out an exceptional career as a caddie
Rusty “Hoss” Uresti knows all about hearing a roar on the golf course.
He heard one Sunday when his boss, Jeff Maggert, slam-dunked a wedge from 124 yards for a walk-off victory during a playoff with Retief Goosen in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club.
“We just looked at each other with that ‘Can you believe it?’ look, and then we started jumping and high-fiving each other,” said Uresti, the older brother of longtime PGA Tour member Omar Uresti. “I told Mags it was his tournament the whole time. He deserved to win.”
The gallery went nuts Sunday at Phoenix CC, at least as crazy as two dozen people — Rusty Uresti’s unofficial count of the gallery — can become after watching the dramatic final shot of the PGA Tour Champions season.
An eagle hole-out for the win 🤯
— GOLFTV (@GOLFTV) November 11, 2019
“They all jumped as high as they could,” Rusty said of the fans.
There were a few more people on the course the last time Uresti heard a roar that still reverberates around the golf world. That was in 1997 when a guy named Tiger Woods made a hole-in-one in front of 50,000 fans at the famous par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.
Uresti was part of the moment because he was caddying for Omar, who hit his approach close before Woods hit his a lot closer.
“The loudest roar I’ve ever heard in my life,” Rusty said. “Lee Rinker was in the clubhouse a pair of par-4s away, and he said the windows were rattling. It was the loudest roar in golf.”
The fans pelted the players and caddies with beer cups and full-throat screams as the six men walked to the green.
There was a major difference between the two roars as far as Rusty Uresti was concerned.
“This one benefitted me,” Hoss said with a huge laugh.
Sunday’s eagle also benefitted Scott McCarron, who would have lost the Charles Schwab Cup had Goosen won the playoff. No doubt McCarron shared some of his $1 million bonus with Maggert and Rusty.
Rusty has made his share of nice paychecks as a professional caddie. This was the sixth time Maggert and Uresti have teamed up to win on the PGA Tour Champions. Uresti also won twice on the PGA Tour, with Frank Lickliter and Robert Gamez (no, not that hole-out at Bay Hill).
Uresti also won an international event caddying for K.J. Choi and a Nationwide Tour event with his brother in, naturally, another playoff.
That puts Rusty Uresti in double figures with career victories as a caddie. That’s a nice career for anyone, especially someone who thought he might become a professional in another sport.
Growing up in Austin, Texas, while Omar was working on a career that would lead him to more than 370 starts on the PGA Tour, Rusty had chosen a different sport.
Rusty Uresti was a catcher with enough talent that he earned a role as a backup on the University of Texas baseball team in the early-1980s. Among Texas’ starting pitchers at the time was a right-hander better known as the Rocket – Roger Clemens. Rusty still has marks on his left hand as proof he once caught Clemens.
“Roger threw 93 (mph) back then,” Uresti said. “That was about as fast as anyone threw it during those days. These guys throw 100 mph these days, but I think Roger could if he needed to.”
Rusty played three seasons of professional baseball in the lower levels of the minor leagues. He played six games for the Atlanta Braves’ affiliate in the Gulf Coast League in 1981, hitting .250 with 2 RBIs and no errors. He played the next two seasons in the Triple A Mexican League.
Being a baseball player helped Rusty become younger. His age is listed on baseball sites as 58, but Rusty admits he’ll actually turn 60 on Dec. 28.
“You know how it is in baseball,” he says, “you have to look younger.”
Rusty believes being a catcher helped him as a caddie because both require calling the shots, or pitches, or wedges, as it may be.
Rusty is never afraid to speak up on the golf course. “If I agree with my player, I don’t say a thing,” he says, “but if I don’t, I’ll step up and say something.”
Rusty believes he could have been a pro golfer, too, if “I had gotten all those lessons Omar got when he was a kid.”
We’re not sure if Rusty is kidding or not.
What’s clear is there was a sibling rivalry here, especially when Rusty served as Omar’s caddie during his first six years on the PGA Tour.
Asked what it was like to have his older brother caddie for him, Omar laughed.
“It was good and bad,” Omar said. “It was good because my older brother took care of me. But it was bad because he was a lot more animated with me than he was with his other players. He felt like he could get more out of me and that sometimes bothered me.”
Rusty was more specific.
“Omar would miss the green with a wedge from 115 yards, and I would say, ‘Come on, O, what are you doing? You’re better than that!’” Rusty said.
“Omar would say, ‘Would you be saying that to Lickliter?’ I’d say, ‘No, I’d be saying, ‘Come on, Frankie, chip this in.’”
Omar: “Then why are you saying that to me?”
Rusty: “Because I expect more out of you. You’re my bro.”
And so it went.
There was a time when Omar fired Rusty during a rain delay at the Byron Nelson Classic. A storm was about to hit the course and Rusty told Omar to wait to hit his shot until after the storm passed.
Omar didn’t wait, Rusty says, and the wet club flew out of his hands as Omar hit a ball out of bounds.
During the delay, the brothers went at it so hard, Omar told him to take a hike.
“Omar saw my dad and asked him to come over,” Rusty said. “My dad said, ‘I’m not getting into the middle of this.’”
There also was a time when they were working together at the 1994 Shreveport Open on what’s now known as the Korn Ferry Tour. Omar had to finish up his rain-delayed second round Saturday morning, before starting his third round.
After opening with three pars, Omar rattled off nine consecutive birdies for a record that still stands on the tour. Those two hours showed the brothers could bring out the best in each other.
“It was unbelievable,” Rusty said. “He was in the zone. I pulled the clubs and he agreed with it. He hit it well.”
The best part about that week: When Omar won a six-hole playoff over Pat Bates to claim his first significant professional victory in the U.S.
The list of players who Hoss has caddied for includes the aforementioned, as well as Gary Nicklaus, Notah Begay and Woody Austin. Since Rusty started working for Maggert in 2012, he only works for others when Maggert is taking the week off.
“Hoss has a lot of experience around golf,” Maggert said. “Caddies can make all the difference in the world. They’re kind of your second eyes on the golf course, they keep an eye out for things, keeping me straight, making sure I’m doing the things that I need to be doing.
“And more than anything it’s just a friendship, it’s someone that you spend seven, eight hours a day with, in practice rounds, in the tournaments, so you have to have a good friendship and relationship on and off the golf course. And if you can find those things that work, then usually you’re going to have a good caddie for a number of years.”
Hoss said when the chemistry is there between a player and a caddie, no job is beneath the looper.
“We’re there to take care of them,” Rusty said. “Whether we’re a punching bag, a chauffeur a gopher … whatever they need.”
Golf continues to run through the Uresti family. In addition to his younger brother Omar, Rusty’s daughter, Amber, married five-time PGA Tour winner Nick Watney in 2010.
Surprisingly, not much golf is spoken when the family gathers for holidays and such.
“I’m more interested in how my three grandkids are doing, with another one on the way,” Rusty said. “I’m proud of Nick. He’s a better gentleman and a man than he is as a golfer. He watches how much he plays not only because of his back, but because he wants to be home with his family.”
Rusty knows how blessed he’s been to work with so many talented golfers, even his little brother.
“I’m living the dream,” Rusty said. “Being there for the hole-out Sunday was icing on the cake. That’s golf history I’ll always be a part of. I’ll have a big smile every time I see it.”
Hoss will continue to caddie for Maggert as long as he is wanted. But he will still find time for his little brother.
Hoss will caddie for Omar, 51, in the PGA Tour Champions q-school later this year. That should be an interesting four days.
“I’ve learned to watch my lip,” Hoss said.
Omar knows he’d be crazy not to use his bro.
“He’s become one of the best caddies out there,” Omar said. “I know because I taught him.”
That sibling rivalry lives on.