Who’d be a Caddie?
Updated: Jul 4
Who knows why Bryson DeChambeau and caddie Tim Tucker parted ways after three years and eight PGA Tour wins together, including last year’s U.S. Open.
Quite who decided to initiate the break up is a matter for debate. Tucker apparently dumped DeChambeau, while Beefed up Bryson’s manager released a statement to Golfweek saying the parting was “mutually agreed.”
Maybe Bryson got mad at Tucker for turning up 15 seconds late. Maybe Tucker gave Bryson the perfect yardage and Bryson hit the shot a yard short. Maybe they disagreed on the compass bearing direction of the wind, air density, atmospheric pressure, true gravity, the FT 100 Share Index, all the things Bryson seems to consider before he pulls a golf club.
It matters not: it doesn’t take much to split up the oldest relationship in golf.
Is there another profession such as caddying that is so precarious? I think not. Imagine an occupation that calls on you to be part-time psychologist, swing adviser, nutritionist, servant, scapegoat, babysitter and a plethora of other roles you had no idea went with the job. Imagine a job where you can be fired on a whim, with no safety net. Imagine a job where you’re told to be at such and such a place on such and such a date only to be told the day before that your employer has changed his mind – after you’ve made travel arrangements.
Player caddie break ups are so common you’d think Zsa Zsa Gabor was in charge of match making. I learned early on in my career not to ask caddies how their player’s game was. So many times the reply would be, “Oh, I’m not with him now, I’m working for …..”
Caddies can be fired for the most innocent of gaffes. I remember walking a practice round with a multiple European Tour winner many moons ago. His bag towel slipped off his bag as his caddie was walking about 10 yards behind him. The player noticed the towel on the ground and said to me: “He does that sort of stuff all the time.”
I knew said caddie was on the way out. Sure enough, player and bag man split up straight after the tournament.
Seve Ballesteros was renowned for being hard to work for. He once complained to his caddie that the fruit in his bag wasn’t as ripe as he’d like. The caddie, quite rightly, replied that he was a caddie not a green grocer! Not sure how long the caddie lasted after that reply, but it probably wasn’t long. Seve went through a fair through caddies in his career.
Colin Montgomerie once hired Englishman Steve Rawlinson, “Big Stevie” as he was known on the European circuit, because he wanted a strong character who would tell it like it was. The relationship didn’t last long. It came to an end after Monty accused Big Stevie of giving him the wrong club after he’d missed a green. When Rawlinson pointed out that the club Monty used went the exact distance they’d calculated but the Scotsman hit it in the wrong direction, the eight-time European Tour number one decided he actually didn’t like being told the truth. They split up pronto after that.
There have been long standing player-caddie relationships that have reaped rewards: Lee Trevino and Herman Mitchell, Nick Faldo and Fanny Sunneson, Bernhard Langer and Pete Coleman, Sandy Lyle and Dave Musgrove. Long caddie-player relationships are evident today. Graeme McDowell and Ken Comboy (pictured) have been together forever and have a U.S. Open to show for it. Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Finnis are a good long-time pairing. Jordan Spieth and Michael Greller have been through rocky times but are still together.
However, the average career span for tour caddies is about as long as the time modern humans are parted from their mobile phones. Often caddies get fired with little or absolutely no reason other than the old “the chemistry wasn’t right” excuse even though the caddie never once made a mistake. It is the most precarious job in golf.
Who’d be a caddie?
#JustSaying: “The only time I talk on a golf course is to my caddie, and only then to complain when he gives me the wrong club.” Seve Ballesteros