Golf is unique for a number of reasons.
It is the only sport where anyone can genuinely play anyone, due to each player having their own handicap. It is the only sport where the most complex laws are still a mystery to the world’s top players and officials – shout out to the USGA and DJ!
Golf is also, the only sport where another person can take 12% of the credit – the typical fraction a caddy takes from their player’s winnings – for an individual’s achievements.
The caddy is a fascinating phenomenon and often one that is massively overlooked. They play a massive factor in preparation, execution and application of their player when on the course. Major Championships have been won and lost based on the conversations between player and looper.
Bones and Phil
The excellent No Laying Up Podcast, seriously – I cannot recommend it highly enough for golf fans, went deep with Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay about his relationship with Phil.
The level of detail that he went into was incredible. From the preparation required when walking the course, to club selection in the most intense of situations, down to the effort spent keeping the clubs dry when the weather rolls in, it was an amazing insight into Pro golf.
Your regular amateur has no idea of the difference that a ball flies depending on the conditions. Because these guys hit it so far and so flush, everything impacts the yardages. What time of day it is, whether there is a drop of water on the ball, going all the way down to whether the sun is shining or just gone behind the clouds.
To have such a trusting relationship as Phil and Bones, is a massive advantage. There are few caddies that can call off a player if they don’t 100% believe that is the right club.
Who is to blame?
So what happens when it all goes wrong?
Bubba Watson has been known for his fiery temper when berating his caddy Ted Scott. Commentators held their breath when the ball was in the air and Bubba belted out “let’s see Teddy!!”.
Thus forever giving birth to the hashtag #PrayforTed.
It depends massively on the player, but caddies have become agony aunt/sounding board for abuse/someone to fire for poor displays. It is certainly telling when a player goes through caddies quicker than the balls they are losing in the right rough.
A recent Sports Illustrated poll outlined that a third of all players, anonymously, said that caddies did not deserve their cut of the winner’s cheque. Am sure that is filled up by the majority of players that aren’t in the winner’s circle.
Austin Johnson was hammered quite hard for his handling of his brother DJ at Chambers Bay. He did not get in his ear before his brother’s three putt to win the tournament. Maybe that isn’t how they work, or maybe he should have calmed his guy down a bit.
We will never know.
Bring’s out the Best
When you look at the likes of Jason Day, with coach and mentor Colin Swatton on the bag, you know that is going to be a recipe for success. Knowing when to push them, when to let things diffuse, and when to not to say anything at all are vital in a player’s mood.
Bones mentioned that he has to “take the temperature” of Phil when on the course.
This was never more evident on that famous shot on the 13th hole at the Masters in 2010.
When Bones told Phil that he was tied for the lead before playing that shot, therefore not necessarily needing to go for it, Mickelson replied with the following;
At some point today, I am going to have to hit a really great shot under a lot of pressure. I am going to do it right now.
The rest, as they say is history.
If Bones doesn’t deserve his 12% as a Caddy by getting the hell out of the way after that, we don’t know what does.