Local boys Jermaine Kearse and Greg Bodine make good in their careers, and then make good on their wish to create opportunity for others to enjoy a better game
by Craig Smith
This is what you call an interesting twosome in the golf business: a retired football player with a Super Bowl ring and a former PGA Tour caddie.
The wide receiver is Jermaine Kearse, the former Washington Husky who got the ring in 2014 as a Seattle Seahawk. The former caddie is Greg Bodine, who was on the bag for Tony Finau for six years.
Kearse and Bodine are co-founders of Evergreen Golf Club in Redmond, Wash., a club where you never will need an umbrella. That’s because Evergreen is an indoor golf facility a mile south of the Willows Run golf complex.
The co-founders bill their establishment as “Washington’s premier indoor golf club” and the 13,000-square foot facility was converted from a hot tub warehouse. It opened in December 2022 and features eight large golf simulator stations.
Kearse and Bodine got connected by Bodine’s cousin, PGA Tour pro and Northwest native Andrew Putnam. Kearse and Putnam had played together at Tacoma Country and Golf Club.
Putnam also had a role in the Bodine-Finau golfer-caddie partnership. Years earlier, Bodine had been caddying for Putnam on the Web.com Tour (now Korn Ferry Tour) and they were sometimes paired with Finau.
Both Bodine, 34, and Kearse, 33, are married with children and have roots in the South Puget Sound region. Kearse, son of an Army staff sergeant, went to Lakes High School where he was a standout three-sport athlete.
He finished second one year at the 3A state track meet with a triple jump of 45 feet, 6.5 inches and was on the 2008 basketball team that finished second at the state tournament.
Bodine, son of a businessman who specialized in self-storage, went to Life Christian Academy where he played golf and put his 6-foot-4 frame to work on the basketball court.
Bodine went on to play golf at Biola University outside of Los Angeles and later coached there.
Football took Kearse to the University of Washington just in time for the winless 2008 season under Coach Tyrone Willingham. Things later improved under Coach Steve Sarkisian, with his college career wrapping up at the Alamo Bowl in 2011.
Kearse went undrafted and signed with the Seahawks. He is best known for two catches in 2015, the year after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl.
It was Kearse’s juggling acrobatic reception of a deflected 33-yard pass – considered one of the most memorable catches in Super Bowl history – that put the Seahawks on the 5-yard line in the final minute against New England in that year’s Super Bowl.
Two weeks earlier, Kearse had caught the winning 35-yard touchdown pass in overtime in the NFC title game, a 28-22 victory over Green Bay.
Kearse ended his eight-year NFL career after two years with the New York Jets and a preseason with Detroit where he suffered an ankle dislocation and was placed on injured-reserve. He was on the staff at the UW as a football program assistant when Bodine contacted him about the indoor golf business.
Bodine was Finau’s caddie from the 2014-15 season until after the Memorial Tournament in 2020. Finau logged his first PGA Tour victory with Bodine toting the clubs and made Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. Finau and Bodine were on the 18th green in the final group with Tiger Woods at the Masters when Tiger pulled off his improbable victory there in 2019.
Noted sportswriter John Feinstein has pointed out that the player-caddie relationships “are a lot like marriages – they are volatile, emotional and often end in divorce.”
Feinstein notes that not only do players and caddies spend long days together but “many of those hours are fraught with tension, frustration and emotional twists and turns.”
Finau told a reporter after the split with Bodine: “I think me and my caddie had a great run. We were together for six years and it’s a tough thing, you know. On a personal level I love the guy and on a business level I felt it was time for a change in my situation and just something different.”
Asked what he liked best as a caddie, Bodine replied, “I loved going to ‘battle’ with my player and helping the best I could. I really enjoyed crunch time. When the starter announced their name on the first tee, it felt like the bell was being rung in a boxing match.”
Evergreen Golf Club is open to the public, but offers annual memberships, as well as month-to-month, and these members have access to different club amenities and member-exclusive events and perks.
The facility’s sand bunker, snack room, chipping area and fitness center are for members only, although everything is available as a guest of a member or for corporate events or large private celebrations.
Bellevue-based Golfletica Sports and Rehab has a treatment center in the building and offers physical training and rehab. What is described as “competitive mental and life training” also is available through Dr. Kevin Alschuler, a psychologist.
“We want to have a close-knit community and build a culture here with our members rooted in golf, and that’s easier to do with a strong sense of membership,” said Bodine.
Bodine also said, “Weather is a big piece of this,” with the realization that dark, wet windy months will slap golfers in the face and send them indoors.
Bodine and Kearse are both accomplished golfers, with Bodine a plus-1 handicap index and Kearse, who was introduced to the game in 2014 by his stepfather, plays to a 4.
“Indoor golf on a simulator can definitely help,” said Kearse. “It’s helped me.”
The club has a junior program which Bodine likes to describe as “team-ifying” what some juniors see as a lonely sport.
Creating a year-round club where golfers – veterans and rookies alike – can continue the building of the golf community.
Call it “The Great Indoors.”
Craig Smith has been a sportswriter at newspapers all over the country, including a long tenure at The Seattle Times, where he wrote a sports column under the byline “Sideline Smitty,” as well as being that newspaper’s golf reporter.