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Caddy for a day

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

Dallas Gillingham and Julia Hwang had never been more excited to be put to work.

The 15-year-olds, Gillingham from North Vancouver and Hwang from Yakima, Washington, won the opportunity to caddy for their favourite Vancouver Canucks player at the 29th annual Canucks for Kids Fund Jake Milford Charity Invitational Golf Tournament Wednesday at the Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey, BC.

Essentially they won the opportunity to rub elbows with their hero of choice, which turned out to be a drastically different experience for both young caddies.

Dallas, bright eyed and bushy tailed straight from the first hole of the Ridge Course, prepared for role as Kevin Bieksa’s right-hand man by watching Happy Gilmore a few times.

It paid off sooner than Dallas expected.

Bieksa’s first tee-shot of the day was beautiful and it left him with a long chip shot on the par-4, 346-yard opening hole. The Canucks defenceman studied his shot, reading both severe and subtle breaks, before turning to Dallas.

“What do you see here Dallas?” he asked, before snarking “or should I even ask…”

Bieksa was kidding, of course, as most people would know. Juice is a jokester. Dallas, on the other hand, was caught off guard by the sneaky jab. He smiled and didn’t say a word; it was then he realized he was in for a dogfight for another 17 holes.

That’s when his comedic film studying came in handy.

After Bieksa’s tee-shot on the second hole sent the pair for a wilderness hike through the rough, they returned to the middle of the fairway to try and hit the green from the foursome’s best hit ball.

Dallas got to the clubs first and confidently ripped out a driver, handing it to Bieksa, who was dumbfounded.

“What’s the matter with you Dallas?” he laughed, before clueing in that his caddy has pulled a fast one on him. And the dumbfounded look returned. “Good one,” he smiled, exchanging the correct club from Dallas with a “thank you sir.”

By the fourth hole Dallas was muddy, grassy and having the time of his life.

The same wasn’t to be said for Julia, who was still as shy and timid around David Booth on the 11th hole of the Canal Course as she was the moment they met earlier in the day.

She wasn’t muddy, wasn’t grassy, she wasn’t even holding any clubs.

“She wouldn’t even jump into the water and swim for my ball earlier,” said Booth.

Clearly Julia wasn’t as prepared for the friendly back and forth that comes with spending time with one of the Vancouver Canucks. They’re jokers and if you let them, they’ll get under your skin just enough to keep you guessing.

Reminded of this, Julia stepped her game up.

“Here’s an eight iron, I think you can land a high pitch shot, just be careful of the bunkers on the left,” she said, borrowing a line or two from her dad, John, who was golfing in the foursome. This, understandably, knocked the wind out of Booth.

He didn’t end up taking her advice and he bogeyed the hole. Coincidence?

“It doesn’t matter,” she giggled, “I’m just happy being out here.”

Booth, on the other hand, was wondering why Julia didn’t have a meatloaf sandwich for him when he got hungry a hole later.

“You’ve got to know what I’m thinking before I think it if you want to be my caddy!” chuckled Booth, beaming in a bright pink shirt.

“Real men wear pink,” defended Julia, ignoring the meatloaf sandwich request, yet standing by her man.

It was a different yet memorable experience for both caddies and a magnificently splendid day overall for everyone on course, with the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky.

Almost every member of the Canucks was on hand for the tournament, including many, like Roberto Luongo, who flew in just for the event. The Jake Milford Charity Invitational is that important to the players; with the 2012-13 season in limbo, everyone remained focused on the lives changed by the money raised for the Canucks for Kids Fund.

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