Posted: July 8, 2015 10:39 pm
There’s no home-field advantage for Gregory Johnston. Just the opportunity to be surrounded by familiar faces.
Because when Johnston is done caddying each day this week for Cristie Kerr at the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club, he doesn’t head back to a hotel. No, Johnston instead takes a short drive to West Lampeter Township, pulls up in the driveway of his brother’s home, and eventually kicks his feet up by the pool in the back yard.
“We grill out every day,” Johnston said Wednesday afternoon, just minutes after stepping off the course.
Johnston’s older brother, Christopher, just happens to be the business manager for Penn Manor School District.
Gregory Johnston, meanwhile, is one of the most respected caddies in the LPGA, a designation he’s earned over a long career that began roughly three decades ago. Among his long list of accomplishments, Johnston was the caddie for Juli Inkster when she won the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2002. He’s also previously caddied for Lorena Ochoa, Michelle Wie, Brittany Lincicome and Suzann Pettersen.
This is the first year he’s caddying for Kerr, and so far in 2015 she has made the cut in 13 of 15 events, placing in the top 10 in five of those and winning one (the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, California, in March). Kerr is making her 20th appearance in the U.S. Open this week, having previously won it in 2007.
“We’ve been trying to get together the last four or five years but she’s either had a caddie or I’ve had a job,” Johnston said of caddying for Kerr. “The timing hasn’t worked out. Now it finally worked out.”
But don’t think he has any extra inside knowledge on the LCC course because his brother happens to live nearby. As Gregory puts it, Christopher doesn’t golf.
“We try not to talk about golf,” Christopher Johnston said by phone Tuesday when asked the topics of conversation when around his brother. “Just abuse each other like brothers do. Pick on each other. It’s always a fun time.”
The Johnston brothers — there are three in all — grew up in Bradford County, roughly a four-hour drive north of Lancaster. All three attended Sayre High School. Both Christopher and Gregory ended up going to Bloomsburg College, Christopher focusing on academics while Gregory walking on to the basketball team. He became the Huskies’ point guard in the early 1980s.
“Out of college I started working in Baltimore for a payroll company, which transferred me up to Lancaster,” Christopher Johnston said. “I worked for a restaurant chain and then I got a job working for the (Penn Manor) School District, where I’ve been the past 16 years.”
Gregory Johnston basically fell into his career when, a week after graduating from Bloomsburg, a friend asked him to help out as a caddie at a golf club in Corning, New York. Johnston had never caddied before in his life.
“I did it for a week and the girl asked me, ‘Do you want to do it for the summer?’ And I did it for the summer. And here I am,” he said.
Johnston said his wife and daughter were driving up Wednesday from their home in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They’re all staying with brother Christopher and his family at their West Lampeter Township home through the rest of the week.
There’s a chance the brothers could interact out on the course this week, too, as Christopher Johnston is a volunteer on Hole No. 16.
“He was volunteering yesterday, but we played the front nine so I didn’t see him. I’ll see him during the tournament,” Gregory Johnston said. “We’ll see how busy I am. I’m sure I’ll wave to him.”