Reagan Cink has had a big year. This spring, he graduated from Georgia Tech. This summer, he got engaged. And this fall, he won his first PGA Tour event as a caddie. Even better? That win came caddying for his dad, Stewart. And now their partnership is turning into a long-term arrangement.
This wasn’t always the plan. Stewart had been employing veteran caddie Kip Henley as his primary looper, but Stewart wanted the chance to spend some extra time with Reagan before he started work full-time; Reagan was working on transitioning to a role in flight operations with Delta Airlines. So the father-son duo went on Tour together for a couple weeks.
In Reagan’s first start of the year, Stewart shocked the golf world. The 47-year-old shot 65-65 on the weekend in Napa to edge out his Safeway Open competition; for the first time in 11 years, he was in the winner’s circle.
“I can’t really overstate how important Reagan’s been as a caddie, too,” Cink said after the win. “He understands golf to the very, very highest level. It was really a great experience.”
The following week, Team Cink backed it up with a T12 finish at the Sanderson Farms. That was good — but was it good enough to keep Reagan from the Delta offices? Initially, no.
“The traveling and living in a circus out here like I’ve done for my whole adult life is made tolerable by being a player. If you’re playing, you’re kind of the top level of the wedding cake out here,” Stewart said after the final round in Mississippi.
“I just don’t envy a lot of the caddies and especially the ones that have families traveling out here. Media, you guys do understand that it’s not easy. I wouldn’t wish most of this life on any person that I love, as much as I love Reagan.”
But then Reagan caddied again in Bermuda, and Cink played well again, too: He finished T4. After the round, he and his looper had a chat. The next day, Henley broke the news on his Twitter feed:
“I ain’t mad but I sure am sad. Stewart just let me know that him and his son Reagan who have absolutely killed it every time he has worked are going to keep going instead of him taking his regular job,” Henley wrote. “I am working this week in Houston and then Donezo!”
On Wednesday, in advance of this week’s RSM Classic, Stewart remembered the sequence of events from Bermuda. “We didn’t have to leave until Monday so we were kind of sitting around the room with nothing to do; Reagan was there, my wife was there, all sitting around,” he said.
“Probably like how nothing good happens with idle time and idle hands, we all sat around and said, ‘Hey, this has been really fun. You’re supposed to go back to work next week, but maybe this is the right time for you to push work back for a year. I like you caddying and I think you’re having a good time and you’re good at it, and it’s nice to spend time with our son.'”
In other words, a win-win-win. Why mess with a good thing?
“So we just got it worked out. He got it worked out with Delta Airlines that he was going to be able to just sort of push his job back. He’ll go to work next year after he gets married in July and he’ll caddie the rest of this season. So a change for us, but something I’m really looking forward to and I think he is, too.”
This week marks Stewart’s 600th PGA Tour start. He’s playing as well as he has in years; already he’s jumped from outside the top 300 in the world to No. 131 since Reagan took the helm.
“I just feel really calm out there with him,” Stewart said. “I know that when he’s standing across with the bag and after we’ve made our decision, I know that he has like full trust and 100% confidence that I’m going to be able to do what we just talked about doing. That’s just a big asset, to know that your caddie is just really behind you and believes in you and also has that sort of unconditional relationship with you that if it goes great, it goes great, if it doesn’t, then hey, we’re still father and son. I think that’s been a real big asset and it’s helped me to be calm and to be confident and really to just be myself.”
On Wednesday, the Tour honored Cink’s milestone start with cupcakes. There are plenty more starts to look forward to. Kapalua, for one. Augusta, for another. For the foreseeable future, each Tour stop will be a family affair. The Cinks seems to understand how special that is.
“It’s been a great job. It’s something that I just love pursuing all the time. I still love to practice and play and keep myself in shape and just be the best golfer I can be because I love golf. I love playing golf,” Stewart concluded. “I’ve just got a lot of good relationships from playing this game and a lot of good memories. And I don’t see myself slowing down anytime soon.”