Budd's Golf Passion a Family Affair
July 9, 2012
CHICAGO – It’s pretty rare for a college guy to hang out with his mom all summer long.
But that’s exactly what DePaul golfer Russell Budd does---and he loves every moment.
That’s because his mom, Kaila Budd, slings his bag over her shoulder and caddies for him at summer tournaments.
“She knows nothing about golf, and that’s kind of refreshing for a caddie,” said Budd, a senior co-captain who has been a steadying influence on the Blue Demon program. “She carries the bag and makes sure I stay focused and hydrated. Mom has been doing it for the last five years, and it’s a nice way for us to bond.
“She was good luck for me in 2009 when I finished ninth at the Ontario Amateur. I shot a 67 on the final day. Two years ago, it was over 100 degrees at the US Amateur qualifying in Michigan. I told her she didn’t have to caddie, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“I was totally exhausted in that second round but birdied the last five holes to finish with a 72. We took a photo together to remember that day, and I made her wear a funny hat. My mom loves walking and just watching me play.”
"It was mom who noticed two-year-old Russell making a golf-swing motion in the kitchen of their Toronto home. She quickly gave her son a spatula and a rolled-up ball of tin foil to whack around.
Budd got his first set of clubs two years later and remembers hitting the links with his dad, Michael Budd.
“My dad and I played together on a par-3 course,” Budd said. “We walked the course, and I remember he had to carry me to the bathroom. I was 10 years old the first time I went out on a course by myself.
“Golf is a great way to meet people and spend time outside in nice weather. It’s also competition, but it’s more about competing against yourself.”
After finishing with a scoring average of 77.15 as a sophomore, Budd sliced that figure down to 75.48 last season.
“He’s been in the starting five since his freshman year and has played in every tournament,” said DePaul golf coach Betty Kaufmann. “Russell has been a steady player his entire career.
“He has improved in ball striking and the consistency of his ball flights. He needs to focus this summer on his short game and putting in order to take his game to the next level.
“He is always a positive teammate. Mark Sanchez had been struggling, and Russell went to caddie for him at the Toronto Star qualifier. This is a great kid with good leadership skills.
“I would like to see Russell push himself more. I think he has more to accomplish, and I’m hoping it will come out this year.”
Budd will be competing in the US Amateur Qualifying Tournament beginning July 18 at Bay City, Mich. and in the Canadian Amateur Qualifying Tournament Aug. 4 at Cumberland, Ontario.
“I learned a lot about myself,” Budd said. “I accepted myself and my golf game while slowing the tempo down. I played more towards my strengths. My ball striking was much better. This summer I’m focusing on improving my putting and short game.
“I can’t go to a driving range and hit balls for hours. But as a kid, I could putt for hours and never get bored. I’ll spend two hours a day hitting putts. With chipping, I’m addressing that part of my game as well.”
One thing Budd never has to worry about is eating healthy and eating well. He has become a pretty good chef with his entrees drawing raves from participants of DePaul’s International Day dinner.
“When I first came to DePaul, I began to realize that I had been living a privileged life,” Budd said. “My mom is a very good cook. I grew up lazy---never stepped into the kitchen. I just enjoyed all of my mom’s great lunches and dinners.
“I wasn’t accustomed to the food at DePaul, so I taught myself how to cook. I watch the Food Channel all the time and love to barbecue anything. Some of my specialties are Israeli salads, barbecue chicken and vegetables, a homemade meat sauce and a vegetable-and-cheese casserole. My go-to in the summertime is shish-ka-bobs.
“My first three years I lived with six other golfers in a two-level townhouse in Sanctuary. It was a cool way to bond. The German guys Moritz Ackerhans, Maximilian Mayer and Jan Juelicher are good cooks and make their specialty meals.”
Now, Russell can give his mom a break and whip up a family meal.
“I don’t know why people don’t like spending time with their parents,” Budd said. “They have done so much for me, and I am extremely grateful for that. I was raised to realize the importance of family.
“I love hanging out with my family. I go to baseball games with my dad. We all go out to dinner, have barbecues. We celebrated Canadian Day recently and had an awesome time.”