- Alistair Tait
And you think caddying is easy…
Imagine losing your dream golf job for the mere slip of a towel. Or your boss makes a colossal cock up and you get the sack.
Welcome to the world of the professional tour caddie.
If there’s a more maligned group in this game than the men and women who tote the bags of the world’s best players, then I’ve yet to run across it. Job security? An employment tribunal to settle disputes between player and caddie?
Ha, ha, ha.
Caddying and caddies are in the news because of Lee Westwood’s recent success with fiancée Helen Storey on his bag. The inference is the job must be easy if a relative newcomer can pick up Westwood’s bag and guide him to two second place finishes in two weeks, along with finishing number one on last year’s European Tour for the third time in his career.
All you have to is carry a golf bag, albeit a heavy one, for 18 holes, do a bit of adding and subtracting, and have the customary water bottle and banana ready for when the player gets thirsty or hungry, right?
Once again: ha, ha, ha.
Read the current blog on https://www.thetourcaddies.com/ for an excellent insight into just how precarious a tour caddie's life actually is. The people behind the blog not only talk the talk, they’ve walked the walk too. If that $270,000 Jimmy Johnson picked up for toting Justin’s Thomas’s bag in the Player’s Championship has inspired wannabe caddies, then they should start here.
Storey probably has job security because she shares a bed with Lee. You have to think quite a few caddies over the years might have considered sleeping with their players if it meant not being fired on a whim. Okay, maybe I’ve gone a wee bit too far. Then again…
I remember walking a practice round at Valderrama with a group that included a multiple tour winner when the towel draped over the player’s clubs slipped off and fell to the ground. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. Said player blew an absolute gasket at his caddie when he saw the towel lying on the grass.
Afterwards I asked the caddie why his player had reacted so furiously. The caddie just looked at me and said:
“Welcome to my world.”
Said caddie was looking for a new employer at the end of the week. One slipped bag towel was one slip too many.
Seve Ballesteros was famous, perhaps infamous, for blaming caddies when he hit bad shots.
“The caddie put doubt in my mind,” was a familiar refrain.
Colin Montgomerie once hired caddie Steve Rawlinson, better known as “Big Stevie,” on the basis he needed a strong character to tell him exactly what he needed to be told. Monty poached Big Stevie away from Australian pro Stephen Leaney, who wasn’t too happy with Monty’s underhand shenanigans. Not sure why: underhanded poaching of caddies has been going on since Mary Queen of Scots talked Lord Darnley into carrying her clubs.
Hired in June 2003, Big Stevie was fired in September. The end came when Monty asked Big Stevie if he thought 7-iron was the correct club. Big Stevie said yes and caught Monty’s wrath when the Scotsman missed the green. Big Stevie wasn’t having any of it. He said:
“The ball’s pin high, so the yardage was spot on and 7-iron was the right club. It’s not my fault you hit a bad shot.”
Turned out Monty didn’t like being told the truth. Big Stevie got his marching orders and Monty turned to caddie number four in the space of 18 months. Sometimes caddies even get sacked when they do as they’re told.
As the tributes to the late Rodney “Mucker” Wooler prove, a good caddie is worth his or her weight in gold. There are too many stories to relate of caddies proving the difference between failure and success. Yet they never seem to get the credit they deserve.
The age-old image of the caddie as some sort of scallywag who sleeps in bunkers and only carries bags for the price of the next drink seems steeped in perpetuity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Today’s professionals are just that. They’re not just bag carriers, but coaches, psychologists, motivators, course strategists and any number of vocations they haven't been trained for. They learn on the job – and quickly or they're out of one.
The load they carry isn’t just the weight of a player’s bag. It’s far heavier than that?
And you think caddying is easy……
#JustSaying: “The only time I talk on the golf course is to my caddie – and only to complain when he gives me the wrong club.” Seve Ballesteros