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Now browsing: Hometown News > Golf > James Stammer

The life of a caddie
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Posted: 2014 Mar 07 - 08:55

We see them every week. Usually the only time we notice them is when they give their player a bad read on a putt, or a wrong yardage on an approach, or threaten some idiot in the crowd that insists on clicking his camera during a player's swing.

I'm talking about the caddies. Those poor souls who carry a small steamer trunk filled with clubs, balls, water bottles, snacks, gloves, and more. Many people assume that caddies have it easy. How difficult can it be to travel around the world and carry a golf bag for a living? Truth be told, most of you would never take the job.

At the Honda Classic this past week, I spent some time on Tuesday talking to caddies. I wanted to know just what a week in their life on Tour is like.

Most caddies wear many hats. They not only have to be good at carrying a heavy staff bag, but they need to be psychologists, swing experts, managers and more.

When an event ends on Sunday, the week isn't over for a Tour caddy. Unless his pro is taking the next week off, he may get home to spend an evening with his family. Come Monday, it's time to get to the course and get ready for the week. Many pros take Monday off, so the caddies will use that as a travel day. There's nothing like spending 12-hours at home with the family before heading out for another week.

Caddies will room together on tour to save money. At some events, members of the course hosting the stop will volunteer to have a caddy or two stay at their home. This is the best of all worlds, as they get a great bed, no snoring roommate, some home cooking and save a few dollars.

Most pros use Tuesday as a practice day and a caddy can spend 10-hours or more at the course. They spend the first part picking up pin sheets and yardage books. Then they are with their pro as he tries new equipment at the range and works on swing problems or changes with his coach. This can sometimes take half of the day.

When the pro decides to get some on-course practice it's time to verify the information in the yardage and greens books. The caddies also use the pin sheets to set tees or round discs the size of a hole where the pins will be positioned each day of the tournament.

While the pros practice hitting putts and chips to where the pins will be placed on the tournament day, the caddies check yardage from the bunkers or water's edge to the pins, making all kinds of notes along the way.

At the end of the practice on the course, it's usually back to the putting green or driving range to work on shots the pro thinks he will need this week. When the sun finally sets, only then can the caddy think about relaxing.

Wednesday is Pro-Am day. It's another busy day as the caddies spend their time helping to read everyone's putts, taking more notes, raking too many bunkers and watching where everyone's shots go.

The real fun begins on Thursday. This is where the caddy and his pro find out if their preparation is good enough. With some luck and good shots, they hopefully find themselves in contention or at least well ahead of most of the field. Any problems that may have occurred during the round are addressed at the range or practice green after the round. If his pro carded a bad round, it's likely to be a longer day as they try to find solutions that will lead to playing on the weekend.

Friday is cut day. Now the duo really hopes things fall into place and they make the cut. Many caddies get a stipend either way, but the only way to make any real money is to play on the weekend.

With a made cut, the caddy and his pro hope to move up the leaderboard on Saturday. Getting into contention is not only rewarding, but it's a lot of fun.

Come Sunday, the hope is that the pro will raise the trophy and the caddy will get to keep his own trophy, the pin flag at 18. A win usually means a bonus of 10 percent of the winnings. A top-ten is traditionally 7.5 percent and making the cut is worth 5 percent to the caddy.

After the round, the caddy usually gets a check from his pro and sets the time to meet the next week. It can be quite glamorous, but it sure isn't easy.

James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday Night Golf Show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at stammergolf@yahoo.com.

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