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Caddies – The Woods / Williams Saga

Caddies in Print

I recently bought a couple of books from Amazon.com about PGA caddies.  I am in the middle of “Piddler” Martin’s Caddie Confidential: Inside Stories from the Caddies of the PGA Tour.  Next I will read Rick Reilly’s Who’s Your Caddie? – great title.  The first thing that strikes me is that I can really identify with some of these characters.  Martin has introduced me to some caddies that could be pilots in the Marine Corps…a la Great Santini…callsigns (nicknames) and all.  “Piddler?”  What does that mean…or do I want to know?  “Junkman,” “Crispy,” “Reptile,” the Growler” (Ok, I think I know where this may have come from so I am glad the book doesn’t have an associated scratch and sniff!), “Cadillac,” etc…there are lots more.

I bought these books because my wife asked me a question about confidentiality clauses with caddies…do they have them?  I really didn’t know, and still don’t…yet.  I would guess that it depends on the player and the deals players and caddies strike.  In “Piddler’s” book, the work for most caddies seems so adhoc that I couldn’t imagine any kind of written agreement ever gets done except for maybe the really long term associations.  There also seems to be a kind of apparent camaraderie or esprit de corps amongst caddies.  At least that’s the feel I get from reading the stories to date.  It might be that the “caddie corps” used to have unwritten rules and professional standards of conduct where “tell-alls” are concerned, but Martin’s book is copyrighted in 2009, so since that’s the case it is likely to still be true.  Obviously, I still have a lot of questions.

Caddies and Tiger

Tiger hasn’t had many caddies.  Steve Williams has been with him since 1999 when Butch Harmon introduced them after Tiger fired “Fluff” Cowan.  I wonder what kind of agreement they had?  A lot of people are wondering.  Willams has a history of getting personally involved with his player.  He caddied for Greg Norman for several years until Norman fired him in 1989, but they remain friends.  Williams would later say he “got too close personally” with Norman – whatever that means – which resulted in the firing.  Williams and Woods were the best man at each other’s weddings.  Williams has been very protective of Tiger through the years and stood by him during Tiger’s personal debacle that has since been a major reason (aside from injury) for his fall from the list of top players in the world.

Caddies are People Too

Williams is no wall flower.  He speaks his mind and is not afraid to talk publically, especially in his native New Zealand, when asked about things.  He spoke disparagingly about Phil Mickelson in 2008 openly admitting an apparent mutual dislike between them.  He has most recently spoken openly about his recent firing by Tiger at the recent AT&T National.  Tiger apparently fired him because he was “disloyal.”  Williams, one of the world’s top caddies, had gained permission from Woods to caddy for Australian Adam Scott at the U.S. Open.  Later he caddied for Scott again, supposedly without permission, at the AT&T which apparently caused Tiger to take offense and ultimately let him go.

I am not sure how loyal a person has to be to keep Tiger’s affection and loyalty.  Stevie stayed beside him throughout his personal tribulations, has only worked for him through it all until the Adam Scott thing, which means not much in terms of tournament play.  Williams confessed that the timing of the firing coupled with the “disloyal” comments are what has thrown him – not necessarily the firing itself.  He “wasted the last two years…”  Apparently, for Tiger, it was time to add to his list of changes.  Change his personal conduct, change his perspective with his kids, change his conduct on course (not very successfully), change his swing coach, change his swing, change the way he deals with injury, and now change his caddy.  What’s next?

Bring in the Caddies

Who’s next?  How about “the Growler?”  Or perhaps “the Servant?”  Or maybe “the Ass Kisser?”  Word of advice caddies… keep it strictly professional.

The Masters

Alright!  No mas!  Enough already with the Tiger analysis at the Masters!!!  Yeah, I was guilty with my post a couple of weeks ago, but that was my one, we all get one.  Now it seems we haves an endless stream of supposition and conjecture about Tiger on all channels carrying the Masters.  Sure, he’s the world’s number one golfer and has popularity parity with Michael Jordon, but DAMN, can we talk about something else? 

I love this tournament – The Masters.  I love the “cleanliness” of it.  It seems pure to me.  It came from the vision of arguably the greatest golfer that ever lived – Bobby Jones.  OK, it has had its problems not the least of which is the color barrier, now shattered.  OK, it’s one of those rich good ole boy exclusive clubs.  OK.  They can run their club anyway they want as far as I am concerned.  If you don’t like it, make millions and start your own club. 

It’s an “exclusive” tournament.  That is some of the beauty of it.   Only the best get to play.  It is a major coveted by all who would be a professional golfer and those amateurs who have earned a spot to play.  No other tournament portends sudden failure and filets so quickly the promising winner like The Masters.  Greg Norman comes to mind.  We watch on the edge of our seats because of it.   The greens are so treacherous. There isn’t any rough to speak of, there doesn’t need to be.  Opportunity knocks even if you aren’t on the fairway.  The danger exists nearest the goal – the hole.  The wrong part of the green, too short or too much spin and you’re in Rae’s Creek, too long and you’re chipping downhill from the azaleas onto an unforgiving surface.  It is about the short game.  The touch and feel.  Even the shortest putt makes us hold our breath.  Watching a ball as is ekes out another quarter inch to fall in as a result of a 90 degree off-line chip is the magic.  Watching the heartbreak of missing the final putt to win – Kenny – is the magic.  Watching someone chip in to win from nowhere is the magic.  I love it.  (I’m sorry about Kenny – he’s a Kentucky boy like me.)

I am happy Jack is going to do the ceremonial thing with Arnie.  He was never going to do that, but now he is…good. 

I have Ernie doing well, high on my list to win.  Tiger is an outside chance –but haven’t we heard all of the possible scenarios about him twelve times over already?  Anthony Kim is coming off a win – is there a young gun out there who will challenge the established players?  The dark horse for me is Retief Goosen.  Something tells me they’ll be eating South African fare next year one way or another.