Higher Education

Published on Monday, November 24th, 2014 in Features

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Higher Education

Two years ago, local sixth-grade teacher Michael Greller watched The Masters from his Tacoma-area home. This year, he’s on the bag for the hottest name in golf. This is his story.

By Steve Kelley

Before the gates open at Augusta National, before the first tee shot at The Masters is thwacked down the first fairway, before four of the most anticipated days in sports begin, this land feels more like a national park than a sports arena.

It is a place of botanical brilliance, all deep greens and bright reds. The only sounds are the wind hissing through the pine trees and the birds whistling above. And anyone who has had the privilege of hiking in the privacy of an empty Augusta National before these days of tension and high anxiety begin, understands their great good fortune in being there.

Walking in the quiet of Augusta is one of the most peaceful, relaxing, and yet thrilling experiences in life.
On an early Saturday evening, before his first Masters round as Jordan Spieth’s caddy this year, Michael Greller took this walk with Spieth. On that day, with the beginning of the tournament still more than four days away, Greller and Spieth were more strolling the back nine than playing it.

“There was nobody out there but the two of us,” Greller recalls. “We just walked the back nine. It was probably the first time I can remember that I didn’t watch the Final Four. I didn’t bring my yardage book or my range finder with me. I just carried the bag and walked the back nine at Augusta. That was a very special moment for me, something I’ll always remember.

“Caddying at Augusta was something I didn’t think was possible,” he adds. “Every morning once the tournament started, I’d get out there at the first light and kind of walk around and try to find my inner peace before the storm, try to get acclimated for what was ahead. And by the time we teed it up, I was at great peace because I felt we were as prepared for a tournament as we had ever been.”

But even before all of that, life was good for Michael Greller. He had the satisfaction that comes with teaching math and science to sixth graders at Narrows View Intermediate in University Place and understanding the impact he was having on young lives. He was in love with a beautiful girl and in the midst of planning their future together. He was a scratch golfer, who called Gold Mountain on the Kitsap Peninsula his home course.

A good job. The love of his life. And a golf game that was returning all of the affection he showed it. Greller didn’t have any of those nagging doubts, wondering if he needed something more in life. Nothing was missing. He was happy.

But in this story made for Pixar, Greller discovered that even a joyful life need not have boundaries.

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