The last time Fred Couples found himself holding the trophy after a PGA Tour Champions event — back in October at the SAS Championship in North Carolina — he had the son of Steve Flesch on his bag. Although he occasionally caddies for his dad, Griffin Flesch has grown up with Couples, and the two have a certain comfort level that shines through quickly as they walk the course.
This week, Couples has the younger Flesch as his caddie once again at the Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary, Alberta, and the magic seems to have resurfaced, as the 14-time Champions winner used a birdie on the final hole of the day to post a solid 68, putting him in a tie for 13th place after the opening round.
But Couples’ demands of Griffin Flesch are different than when he caddies for his father.
Griffin said Couples simply wants a number to the flag when he’s in the heat of battle, but Flesch asks for the front, back and sometimes drags him 20 yards in the rough for a precise number.
“Well, I’m in the rough, too. Don’t let him kid you, his father hits the ball very, very clean,” Couples joked in advance of the opening round. “I’ve known Grif since he was young, and we’ve had lunches and sat. I don’t even know really how it worked, I said you want to caddie and he picked the right week. And then he’s going to caddie there again this year.
“I love the kid. We’re going to have a good time.”
Flesch also played well in the opening round, posting an identical 68, and he said having his son on-site is a real treat, even if he’s caddying for a competitor.
“I think it makes it more special now than it ever used to.” @Steve_Flesch cherishes the time he gets to spend with his son Griffin, even if he’s on the bag for @fredcouplesgolf. pic.twitter.com/VOzfV2USxB
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) August 18, 2023
The win at the SAS was special for the Flesch family, which has included Couples in a group text chain for years, largely talking about other sports. At SAS, Couples didn’t start the round smoothly, but things improved as the week went on.
“I opened up with a double on the first hole and I’m like, ‘Hey, Grif, nice to have you out here,’ ” Couples joked. “Ended up playing well. Then the second day played well, and then the last day was just, you know. He did a phenomenal job. He gets every yardage, he read a lot of putts. You know, I think it was maybe easier for both of us that I had a big lead because when you’re only one up and you don’t know the guy that well, you can bark at him a little bit to make you feel better.
“I didn’t really need to bark at Grif on the back nine because I was birdieing every hole.”
For Steve Flesch, who has three Champions titles under his belt, seeing his son enjoy success on a pro circuit was something special.
“Griffin has always had this insane passion for all aspects of golf,” Steve Flesch told PGA Tour.com. after the victory last year. “He played in college at Xavier in Cincinnati, then just lost it, and transferred to Kentucky. He has now found his game again and is better than ever. He went through a mental meat-grinder of emotions and has found loving the game, again.
“I believe Fred’s texts and friendly banter with Griff about the Dodgers and Reds, and golf, played a huge part in getting that passion back. Griffin looks up to him so much for his legacy in the game. I can’t think of anyone else he would drop everything for, to have this week. Well, hopefully me, maybe. Haha. Anyway, this was a bucket-list item in life, for Griffin. I couldn’t be happier for or prouder of my son.”