Date: November 09, 2006

The art of caddying

When the 2006 MFS Australian Open commences next week, some of the world s finest golfers will take to Royal Sydney accompanied by their caddies. The profession of caddying is rarely spoken of, so in his latest column for Golf Australia, Course Consultant for the 2006 MFS Australian Open and renowned golf writer, Mike Clayton, takes us into the world of professional caddying. Caddying is like most other jobs. There are some who are unbelievably good at it, a lot who are decent and a few are worse than useless. Terry Gale was playing the 1989 Australian Open at Kingston Heath and at the 16th hole the players walk back to the tee and the caddies walk forward from the 15th green to forecaddy on the blind tee shot over the dune. Gale pulled his drive a little and was pretty sure he was in the bush on the left. As he got to the top of the hill he saw his ball sitting perfectly on the edge of the fairway. He got to his ball and his caddy said &apos Gee you were lucky there. The ball hit the bag and stopped it going into the trees.&apos For the rest of his short lived career on the tour that caddy was known as &apos two shots&apos (the penalty for hitting your bag&apos). Steve Williams is one of the best and since 1987 his only three bosses have been Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd and Tiger Woods. Floyd once said of Williams, &aposHe is the best caddy I have ever had because he is the only one who never choked.&apos By that he meant that if, for example, they came to the over the water second shot at the 13th at Augusta on the final day of the Masters and there was a question of what club to hit, Williams would give no thought of giving his man a little extra to make sure they carried the water. If it was a prefect three iron shot Steve would pull the three and not the two to make sure they carried the water – but most likely finish in the big swale over the back of the green from where everybody takes three more to get down. Greg relieved Williams of his job just before the 1989 British Open and Williams was watching the Grady, Calcavecchia, Norman playoff in the locker room when Greg hit a beautiful long iron just through the long par three 17th at Troon. He had a wispy lie in the rough and Steve said to who ever he was sitting with &aposWatch this, he should be putting this but he&aposll pull out an eight iron and chip it ten feet past.&apos Which is exactly what Greg did. An understanding of the mistakes their boss is likely to make under pressure is a skill the best caddies have and Williams is one of the best at that. Geoff Ogilvy&aposs man &aposSquirrel&apos started caddying as a twelve year old at Wentworth in London and he is a fantastic caddy. He has been with Ogilvy for seven of eight years now and his serenity has been a wonderful foil for the sometime volatile Victorian. He is a quiet, modest man of few words but as he walked onto the range at Winged Foot on Sunday afternoon he turned to Dale Lynch, Ogilvy&aposs coach and just said &aposImportant day, this.&apos He earned his money that afternoon on what did turn out to be a very important day.