PGA's Johnson Wagner: Greg Olsen is a better golfer than Luke Kuechly is a caddie

Kuechly the caddie (2:01)

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly had shoulder surgery in February, but he's far enough along that he could caddie for teammate TE Greg Olsen on Wednesday in the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am. (2:01)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Two women hugged the fairway rope on the Par 3 second hole at Quail Hollow Club on Wednesday. One wanted to move on, but the other wasn't having it.

"Wait!" she said. "I just want to get a picture of his smile."

One smile belonged to the Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl tight end, Greg Olsen, looking the part of a PGA golfer in white pants, white shirt and a white Nike cap as he played in the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am.

The other belonged to Pro Bowl middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, playing the role of caddie on this sun-splashed day.

Both have what you could call All-American smiles.

The woman didn't specify which smile she wanted to photograph. She just wanted to capture one of the two biggest stars from the reigning NFC champions.

On this day, Olsen and Kuechly were anything but stars, in terms of performance. They were out of their element, seeing what life is like for an athlete in another sport.

Both were impressed.

But the fans didn't care whether Olsen hit a good shot or bad or if Kuechly gave the tight end some bad advice.

They couldn't get enough of them. Kuechly heard more shouts of "Luuukee!" on the first two holes than he does in most games. The gallery was so big that Olsen's wife and three kids were allowed to walk inside the rope with a stroller.

Neither player could walk more than a couple of feet without having somebody ask for an autograph.

The only other athlete in Charlotte that would have garnered this much attention is Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

"There's not a whole lot of professional sporting opportunities like this," Kuechly said. "To have this opportunity is truly unique."

It also was eye-opening.

"Fortunately, today I wasn't dependent on feeding my kids with any result," Olsen said. "I'll stick to football, but I knew that coming in."

Kuechly agreed. Carrying a bag for five hours over 18 holes took more out of him than he expected -- and that had nothing to do with his shoulder surgery in February.

The shoulder, he repeatedly told fans, is fine.

"Carrying a bag, that is not easy," Kuechly said. "That thing is heavy, and you're picking it up, putting it down, making sure Greg has everything he needed. I probably didn't do a great job of that.

"I don't know how those guys do it [for a whole tournament]. My feet hurt. I can't wait to go sit down and take it easy for a while."

Talk about pressure

Olsen began warming up on the driving range next to Webb Simpson, a Charlotte resident and the 2012 U.S. Open champion.

"When the guy in the next stall is not hacking it up, it puts a lot of pressure on you," Olsen said.

Hitting a drive on the first tee with more than 1,000 people watching wasn't easy, either. Olsen pushed his tee shot deep in the trees to the right.

"In our world, the noise is kind of background," Olsen said. "Here, it's right up in your face. You're trying to concentrate. You're trying to hit. But you also understand everybody is out here to have fun."

That Carolina coach Ron Rivera and several of Olsen's teammates -- center Ryan Kalil, right tackle Mike Remmers and left guard Andrew Norwell -- were having fun at Olsen's expense didn't lessen the pressure.

"It's a little different playing in a stadium where people are far back, so I can't imagine on that first tee box all those people crowding him and all of his buddies ready to heckle him," Kalil said.

Kalil actually gave Olsen good marks. Kuechly ... well, that's another story.

"I'm a little disappointed with his outfit," Kalil said of Kuechly, wearing a navy blue shirt and gray shorts. "Not a traditional caddie outfit. But that's a typical Luke go-to wardrobe."


Kuechly probably went to sleep Wednesday night hearing "Luuuuuke!" -- what fans typically shout when he makes a tackle or interception -- ringing in his head.

"It was out there a lot," Kuechly said modestly. "I was trying to stay in a zone."

Kuechly's caddying left something to be desired. Oh, he carried the bag well. And he had a notebook telling him all the distances and pin placements.

But when Olsen needed serious advice, he turned to touring pro Johnson Wagner or Wagner's caddie.

When a fan asked Kuechly what Olsen's handicap was, he answered, "I have no idea."

Most caddies would have an idea.

"Kuechly is not a very good caddie," Wagner said with a grin. "Greg is definitely a better golfer than Kuechly is a caddie."


Olsen's tee shot on the final hole hit the cart path far to the right of the fairway, then rolled backward about halfway to the tee box.

"Epitome of a bad bounce," Olsen said.

Olsen went on to double-bogey the final hole, but you'd never know it by Kuechly, in charge of the scorecard.

"I kind of started losing it there at the end,” he said.

Pressed on whether Olsen broke 90, Kuechly grinned and said, "I think he shot a 75."

Told that Olsen had a 46 on the front side, Kuechly grinned again and said, "He must have cleaned up on the back, huh!"

The fans were the ones that cleaned up on this day. They got to see two of Charlotte's brightest stars get out of their comfort zone.

Olsen and Kuechly took a lot from the experience, as well.

"I didn't expect to come out here and fire at pins," Olsen said. "I just didn't want to embarrass myself. I think I accomplished that."