Julia Roth (Karlskrona, Sweden) walked into her host families living room in Rochester this past weekend and asked her “host sister” - who has become closer to an actual sister after three years – if she would caddy for her this weekend at the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic.
Claire Yioulos, 15, is a sophomore at Honeoye Falls-Lima High School and will be Roth’s caddy this weekend.
“We’ve formed a really strong relationship and she has become a real role model for me,” said Claire, who literally started crying tears of joy when Julia asked her to caddy. “I’m just really happy that we got her as the girl to stay at our house. I was just hyperventilating when she asked me and I was sitting on my couch in a ball and was so happy.”
Claire’s mom, Linda, was also around when Julia made the ask.
“It was almost like Santa Claus was coming,” said Linda. “The little girl in her just came out and her face lit up.”
Julia just wishes she had the reaction on camera.
“It was so cute, I know she is excited,” said Roth. “I don’t think we realize the impact we can have sometimes on kids. They get to hang with us and talk to us and realize that we are all just humans. It’s not like we are from a different planet just because we are professionals. It’s great to see people love the game as much as we do and it’s important to help grow the game."
Before the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic and the unique Monday pro-am where area high school golfers get to play with the pros, Claire only played because her father, Ernie, is an avid golfer and the family has a membership at Oak Hill.
“I never thought about even playing college golf, but I’ve talked to Julia a lot about college and what she did after and I realized that I have a lot of work to do, but I’m not that far off,” explained Claire. “She has that drive and I want to be like her.”
Slowly but surely, Claire has gone from barely on the fence about the sport to someone that recently broke 80 for the first time.
“She actually really enjoys golf now, the other day she was asking me questions about the sport,” said Roth, who remembers the time when Claire just played to tag along with dad. “Her game is really getting there. I practiced with her last week and we did some putting drills together.”
For Roth, the Yioulos family has become her second family. She has even celebrated holidays with them.
“There was something special about this family, we really clicked,” said Roth, who stays with host families weekly on Tour. “Two years ago, they were celebrating Easter in Tampa and I drove over to celebrate with them and last summer, I came here three or four times. I’ve been here so often that the members at Oak Hill now know me so it’s nice to feel like I have a second home.”
Ernie and Linda are just thrilled that they’ve had an opportunity to be part of Julia’s journey and are appreciative of the mentorship that she’s provided for Claire.
“She’s (Julia) a mentor to Claire, a friend, she’s really just part of our family,” said Linda.
“It’s more than just the golf, Claire has learned so much about personal behavior and her maturity has accelerated from being around Julia and the rest of the players,” said Ernie. “Her interest in the sport has grown immensely over the last three years.”
Now, Claire will get the ultimate experience: inside-the-ropes as a teammate with her role model.
“Just to have her ask me means so much to me,” said Claire. “I’m just going to try to keep her positive the whole time.”