Gerrit van Rooyen
About 5 weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of the caddie and their role in the game of golf. It was interesting for me to learn how important they were and what a difference they can make to even a professional golfer's game. So that got me thinking, who are some of the world's top golfer's caddies and how have they had an impact on these players? To answer this I looked up three famous caddies to find out more.
As a (now) New Zealander, I wanted to mention Steve Williams first. He was born in Wellington, New Zealand and started being a caddie at the young age of 6! He was playing golf during this time as well very regularly and by age 13 he was already two-handicapped. Apparently, it was during this year that he realised he enjoyed being a caddy more than playing golf, which already tells you that there is a lot more to it than carrying golf clubs, even back then.
Reading about Williams, it became clear that there can be great competition and controversy in the caddie - golfer relationship at times. Steve famously caddied for Tiger Woods for 13 years, but when everything fell apart he left and caddied for Australian Adam Scott, saying he was happy to be working with an Australian again. This was even after he so strongly defended Tiger on and off the course. Was it more about the money? Perhaps.
Steve's mouth has gotten him in trouble a few times over the years, with hints of racism and aggression popping up. It could be because of the stress of working so close to the top in a sport that has so much on the line, but I feel it is especially then that we need to be careful as many will be looking to you as an example.
Also known as Mike "Fluff" Cowan due to his spectacular moustache. Mike is one of the best-known caddies (both for his fantastic facial hair, but also his caddying ability) and has caddied for greats such as Tiger Woods, Ed Sabo, Peter Jacobson, and Jim Furyk.
Mike is probably best known for being Tiger's first PGA Tour caddie at the Great Milwaukee Open in 1996. Mike was, however, let go by Tiger and replaced by Steve Williams due to Mike, allegedly, revealing his salary at the time. Even though it was substantial, $1000 and a bonus of up to 10% of Tiger's earnings, I wonder why this had to happen? Why does it matter to the golfer if their caddie's salary is known? If you have any thoughts on this I would love to know. For me, it is their choice to say, unless of course it was said so that they could make more.
Mike is no slouch when it comes to playing golf either. He played strong college golf and ended up as an assistant professional player at a Maine country club before he became a caddie. He was even inducted in the Maine Golf Hall of fame in 2005!
Also known as James "Tip" Anderson, because he would give great tips while being a caddie (or looping as I learned caddying is also called). James has often been called a legend of the caddie world, securing his a spot in the caddie halls of fame, caddying for greats such as Arnold Palmer and Tony Lema.
Anderson's father was also a caddie, but unlike some of the other caddies above, James went into the business of clubmaker initially. He was also a good golfer, continuing to play golf while serving in the army, but deciding to take up caddying to share his knowledge with players in the mid-1950's. What I loved about James is how he talks about the relationship between the caddie and golfer. Although a little formal for my taste to some degree, he does make it clear that when the golfer loses, so too does the caddie and is a true testament to how good a companion he was to those he caddied for.
As a side note, thinking about the controversy with Steve and Tiger and the revealing of the salary, it is not hard to find out about the income of these caddies, and that is quite eye-opening. It seems to be a lucrative profession, at least if you are caddying at the top.
Billy Horschel reportedly gave the "customary 10 per cent tip" of his winnings at the FedEx cup he won to Micah Fugitt, his caddie at the time, so too did Rory McIlroy to JP Fitzgerald. The same is seen done by many top golfers quite publically, allowing their caddies to tweet about it or talk about it on social media, some golfers even stating that they do this as they have had a good year and would like to spread the success around to the team.
It is nice to see this kind of camaraderie in this game, and I hope it is a trend that continues for the right reasons.
Hope you all have a great weekend and look forward to hearing your thoughts about this!