'Haul' of Fame
             Interview
     with  Brian Bellenger

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Brian is the Big Guy on the right next to Ken Brown, for whom he once caddied for in the Ryder Cup at the Belfry when Europe beat the U.S. in 1985, ending a 27 year drought for the European Team. Just to the left of Ken Brown, seen walking forward (side head shot), is Edward –The Duke of York, second in line to the throne to Prince William. (Pix taken while Brian was working for the BBC at the 2001 Ladies British Open at Sunningdale.)

Q.) How did you first get into caddying?

A.) I was a machinist for a while but then quit that to deliver milk from 5:00 A.M. to noon each day, so that I could play golf in the afternoons.

Q. ) So you got to be a pretty good player?

A.) Decent –about a 6 handicap or so.

Q.) Then how’d you get into pro caddying from there?

A.) I caddied for a kid who was a junior champion he was 14 and around in other junior tournaments when he played, starting in around 1972, for the fun of it. Then I knew a guy who got his card to play on the European Tour, and I took a week off to go and caddy for him in one of the tournaments. I enjoyed that so I decided that the following summer I’d take off work and go caddy the European tour. I caddied for him for two or three tournaments, and then went to work for John O’leary –one of the better players out there and worked for him full time.

Q.) Were there many guys doing it at that time?

A.) Most of the tournaments were in England, and there were guys who just caddied when the European tour played there. There were only about 15 or so guys who caddied those and all the rest in Europe full time.

Q.) Who were those guys?

A.) Me, Dave Musgrove, Peter Coleman, Rocket Rod, Scotty, assorted others.

Q.) So from 1975 to 1978 you worked for primarily two guys, O’leary and Peter Dawson, and assorted others on different weeks. And then after that?

A.) Then in 1978 I caddied for Andy Bean in the World Match Play at Wentworth. Then the following year I got to work for Bill Rogers, who came over after having just won the Texas Open, and we won the world match play which was a pretty big break for me. And it was worth a lot of money in those days. I think the price money then was about 35 thousand pounds, which was about $50,000 –big money in those days.

Q.) Was that when you got to experience the ‘Winds of Change", and start thinking about coming over to the U.S. and caddying?

A.) A few American caddies were coming over –Nick Depaul and Russ Steib, who encouraged me to come over to the U.S. and caddy. So in 1980 I came over and the first guy I got to work for was Gene Littler. I worked for him for 6 weeks and he was not planning on playing a lot in the upcoming summer, so I got hooked up with Andy North in Jacksonville that Spring and started working for him full time for about three years standing.

Q.) Did you win any with him?

A.) We finished second a couple of times, always played well in the U.S. Opens. He was a top player back then.

Q.) Then who’d you have?

A.) I got to work for Aoki in 1984, a friend of mine Nick DePaul got hurt and asked me to caddy for him. Then after a period of time, Nick got better, but Aoki wanted to keep me on the bag. So I worked for him steady for a few years.

Q.) Then you were on the bag in 1984 when Aoki beat Jack Renner at Waialae, when he holed out the wedge shot from the left hand rough to beat Renner by a shot there?! What other wins did you have with Aoki.

A.) The European Open at Sunningdale in ’84’ also.

Q.) When did you go to Japan to caddy for him?

A.) He was cutting back on his playing over in the U.S., in 1986 and I got to caddy for him some in his native country of Japan.

Q.) Then who’d you work for after that?

A.) I worked for Mark Lye for a year, then I had Kenny Knox for a year, and then I went to work for Gary Hallberg in about 1987 or a little later, other people in between.

Q.) Then you won with Hallberg in 1992 at Callaway Gardens.

A.) Also Won with Steve Jones in an early TPS event in Vermont.

Q.) How many majors did you get to caddy in your career?

A.) Got to caddy about 5 or 6 Masters, had Hallberg, Mark Lye, Kenny Knox, and mostly Aoki there.

Q.) How many British Opens?

A.) About 15 of them. One year didn’t go with Bill Rogers at Royal St. Georges, was a very long golf course and didn’t feel it suited his chances, and of course he won it!

Q.) I remember you and Hallberg had a legitimate shot to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 1992, until the back nine on Sunday when Tom Kite got his U.S. Open win and first major. And you caddied in how many Ryder Cups?

A.) Two. I caddied for Bill Rogers in 1981 when it was one of the best Ryder Cup teams of all time. There was Rogers, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Raymond Floyd, Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino, Lanny Wadkins, Bruce Lietzke, one of the best teams ever. Then I caddied in 1985 at the Belfry for Ken Brown, and the European team when they won it ending a 27 year lapse of losses by Europ in the Ryder Cup. So I think I’m definitely the only caddy to have caddied for the two different sides and won each way!

Q.) Any other wins?

A.) The Women’s British Open with Akamoto, at Woburn, she won by 11 shots! And once won with Tim Simpson –the World Under 25 Championship in Paris, and he won that by 10 shots!

Q.) You guys had a lot of experiences traveling in the ‘70’s in Europe. Didn’t you once have a van which you drove all the players clubs from tournament to tournament?

A.) It was pretty tough traveling back then, no one in Europe hardly spoke any English, and there were border checkpoints to each country. Sometimes you’d take a bus, a car, a train, then maybe a ferry, as was the case to get to the Italian Open one year, as it was in Sardinia, on an Island. There were a lot of laughs too!

Q.) Then you caddied a while on the Senior PGA Tour?

A.) In 1997 I had no job on the PGA Tour and on my way across the country, I stopped in at San Antonio to see some caddy friends who were caddying on the Senior tour there, and John Schroeder and his caddy had just parted ways, so I got to caddy for him that week, and went with him for about a year of so. Then I got to caddy for Mike McCullough for another year.

‘Big Brian’ is now living back in the U.K. in the southwest of London, and currently works at the Wizley Golf Club, an exclusive golf club where Colin Montgomerie is a member. Brian works the bag room, and makes caddy arrangements for the members there. He is best reknowned caddy antiquarian golf book collector and a very knowledgeable person on a lot of subjects. A really smart guy, and he still can remember when he was a small child, and Hitlers’ Lutwaffe bombing of London. He’s 62 years old now, and caddied internationally for more that 25 years!                                                     

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