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  • Alistair Tait

It Pays To Listen To A Good Caddie

Updated: Apr 11


There were times reading The Secret Tour Caddie when I wondered if those running men’s professional golf should be replaced by people who perhaps know the professional game better. Those who caddie on the professional tours.

 

The author (TSTC) of the 318-page tome certainly gets my vote for men’s professional golf Czar. It might not be in the mess it’s in right now.

 

This book, which covers the 2023 European Tour season, is a great read for anyone wanting to know what it’s like caddying for the world’s best players. It comes with cigarette butts and all. Anyone who thinks caddying is just about carrying a bag will soon have second thoughts.

 

Let’s start with cigarette butts, as in the caddy who had one stamped out on his forearm by his player. True story, and said player suffered no repercussions. That’s obviously at the upper end of the abuse scale, but caddies have long been scapegoats for many players who often can’t admit they who screwed up, not the caddie.

 

As TSTC says, only those with a strong disposition can heft that heavy sponsored bag while having to play adviser, psychologist, mathematician, meteorologist, motivator, gofer, whipping boy/girl, and other roles not revealed in the job description should apply.

 

For every successful caddie who’s made/making a nice living, there are others who endure a precarious existence. There are no contracts, no human resource departments, no employment tribunals. Your job depends entirely on the player’s whim. And remember, if the player doesn’t make money then neither do you.

 

Some pay days can be like winning the lottery if you happen to work for good players and good bosses – most tour players aren’t selfish ogres. A good caddie is worth every penny paid, and the good ones know their stuff.

 

That romantic notion of the peripatetic globe trotter taking in the world’s wonderous? Yes there are highlights, but living out of suitcase, endless hotels, thousands of flight miles, near constant jet lag and being away from home weeks on end soon gets old. I’ve lived that life.

 

So read this book and weep if you think you’ve got what it takes to be a tour caddie.


What really sets this book apart is the pragmatic approach the author takes to the professional game.

 

The TSTC, along with a majority of caddies, couldn’t believe it when the European Tour banned members who joined LIV.

“I simply fail to see the difference between a European Tour player going to play a LIV Golf event and a European Tour player going to play a PGA Tour event. Basically it’s brand protection turned ugly. And childish.”

 A word that sums up the whole situation that kicked off last year.

 

Moreover, TSTC and other caddies believe the European Tour cut off its nose just to spite its face. Last April, most caddies ranked the European Tour third in the game’s hierarchy behind the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, with the Asian Tour coming up fast on the outside.

“So effectively this means that the DP World Tour is down one place from a year ago, and if the LIV guys go hunting World Ranking points on the Asian Tour, then it’s highly likely to drop down another place fairly soon. And that’s bad for business. No matter what nonsense gets spouted about the strategic alliance.”

Those lines proved prophetic last week when LIV players like Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, Carlos Ortiz, Mito Pereira, Peter Uihlein, Branden Grace and others piled into the Asian Tour’s International Series Oman instead of the Magical Kenya Open.

 

Like many, TSTC can’t understand why the European Tour is sending its 10 most promising players to the PGA Tour on an annual basis.

“What company lets, in fact actively encourages, its 10 best-performing employees to leave the company every year? For a competitor? It just doesn’t make sense.”

And like a small coterie of golf experts, most caddies had sensibly worked out all parties were going to have to start talking to each other instead of the toxic culture that sprang up.

“Some form of entente (maybe not very) cordiale was always going to be the end result. … it (talks between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf) at least junks the whole notion of the PGA Tour’s line that LIV was bad for ‘golf’s ecosystem’, when what they actually meant was that it was bad for their business model, which everyone who didn’t swallow this, or the hostile coverage by the majority of golf journalists, knew from the off.”

As for the catty name calling that emerged last year, many players and officials should have taken a leaf out of the caddie ranks.

“No DP World Tour caddie fell out with a mate or a colleague because they went to LIV. Which, not for the first time, makes us tour caddies look like the sensible ones in all this.”

Indeed.

 

Add this book to your golf library. It’s well worth a read.

 

#Justsaying: “Caddies are a breed of their own. If you shoot 66, they say: ‘Man, we shot 66!’ But go out and shoot 77 and they say, ‘Hell, he shot 77!’” Lee Trevino

 

The Secret Tour Caddie is published by Pitch Publishing & Racing Post Books

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1 Comment


graydon63
Feb 28

Looks like a good book, hopefully it will live up to Lawrence Donegan's excellent and hilarious account of caddying on the European Tour in the 1990s, 'Four-Iron in the Soul'.

I do disagree with the TSTC's assessment that there is no difference between European Tour players going off to play LIV and the US tour. The latter was more in the nature of an ad hoc arrangement, so the Tour was prepared to grant permission on an individual basis for players to go. LIV was on a wholly different scale- players having to sign up to play in all of LIV's 14 tour events, and so having to give complete priority to that tour. As the arbitration panel found last…

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