2002
FEDEx St. Jude
Golf Classic:

Tournament Story:

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At the 2002 Fed Ex St. Jude Classic, on the PGA Tour, the tournament people did something never done before to my knowledge in a professional golf tournament.  They announced the players AND the caddies, coming into the 18th green at the completion of their rounds on Thursday and Friday!  Usually, the players are introduced at the completion of their rounds on Saturday and Sunday, at events like the U.S. Open, and most PGA Tour events, but almost never during the 'cut' rounds of Thursday and Friday.  Thereafter, about at least half of the tour caddies, particularly the veterans,  objected to having their names announced, along with their playing professionals, to the gallery surrounding the 18th green.

Tad Tarroll, the caddy master at the tournament offered this in the form of an explanation, "It came down from the tournament office, that they wanted the caddy names to give them the recognition that's been missing over the last few years.  Thought it'd be a nice touch to announce the caddies, they're an integral part of the game, to give them the recognition they deserve."  

Although all of the caddies to a man, perceived this as a grand gesture, however their reactions were mixed when asked about what they thought about it all.

I can still recall when the electronic score boards were first  were put into service, with computerized scoring and real time 'live' scoring and information around about 1980 at all the PGA events.  This instituted the ability to display player bios for the galleries to see about each individual playing professional.  Back then we made  humor about the idea of doing the same for the caddies.   

I used to joke with other caddies about what if they had the caddy bio's up along side the players back then!   You could just imagine:   'Downwind Vic, or 'Can a Beer Lou', or 'Six Pack Jack', caddying out of Columbus Ohio.  Drives a 75' Thunderbird, with 275,000 miles, wanted in two states, likes Budweiser, and girls who are 'unattached'!  It was all in good fun but I never meant it seriously.  

But honestly, we never thought we'd actually see a time when they would be announcing the caddies coming up to the finishing hole of a professional golf tournament!  The Tour Caddies reactions to having their names announced coming onto the 18th green were quite surprised, some shocked, some elated, some just plain didn't like it.  Why such a mixed reaction?  And why on earth would so many caddies veto, this seemingly harmless and well intended act by the good people of Fed Ex?

But what if it 's not going well for some caddie coming up to 18.  Imagine the guy who's missing the cut after sending his player over a green or two, misread 2 or 3 key putts, he and his player may not be the happiest 'campers' there when they reach #18 on cut day.

Just tip your hat, 'Yes folks, that was me o.k., sent my man over three greens today."  "Brought to you by the now unemployed!?"  Announcing this guy is like telling the gallery to cheer when someone's just made a double bogey out there! 

I think as caddies and especially those that have been around the game for a while, there is really a pretty strong pride and work ethic about what we do out there, along with a real world understanding of 'what we also don't take credit for out there'.   

Professional golf is a very unique game.  You only take away from it what you earn, from the kind of effort you put forth.  It's true for both the professional golfer as well as the caddy.  The caddies know this, and know that from week to week, there are no guarantees.  

Credit where credit is due?  Yeah, we all support that.  But caddies don't hit a shot, or make one athletic move anywhere or anytime during that tournament.  (Although it takes the fitness and toughness of an 'athlete' to do our job on a regular basis.)  But it's the players actions on the playing field that only count in the final tabulation.  They are the performers.  They are who the public comes out to see, to watch them exhibit their skills.  Not the caddies.  

We're part of the game or team -to carry the bag, and at our performing best perhaps a 'first assistant'.    Over the years though I've never seen a caddies name on a players golf bag.  We aren't the color or as they say in television 'the talent' (though there are caddies who are quite colorful characters.)  If we're good at what we do, then we can perhaps enhance our players performance.  The best caddies get the most out of their players if they're in fact doing their job out there every day.

All said and done though, all of those caddies objecting,  recognized that this gesture by the tournament folks came from the heart and fully appreciated the intent of the gesture, although disagreeing with the implementation of it.  And I must acknowledge that it was a very well intended and courageous gesture on the part of the Fed Ex St. Jude Folks to make an attempt to recognize the caddies of the PGA Tour.

                                           Bob Whitbread

Caddies:   "What was your impression to having your name announced to the gallery along with your players coming up to 18th green this week ?  

Caddy Replies(Players name in parentheses).

One unnamed veteran - "I hope it never happens again!"  

Tony Terry, (Duffy Waldorf), "I loved it"

"Did you think it was a positive thing and ever recall it happening before?

Yes and no never before!

Michael Collins, (Brendan Pappas):  "That was awesome, really cool made us feel special, made us feel like were a part of it, instead of not a part of it."  "I thing some tournaments make us think that we're just a necessary evil."  A lot of places we're going now, like Greensboro, here, and Hartford, made us feel really welcome, like they wanted us there, that's different, that's good!"

Munster:  (Glen Day), "It surprised me, I don't think it's a good idea, and I'm glad they didn't do it again today!"  "I just have no desire to have any attention drawn to me, it's about the players, just announce them, and leave us out of it!"  "I think their heart was in the right place, motives were good, well intentioned, but I don't think it was a good idea at all"

Dave Woosley:  "I found it quite surprising, and I really didn't care for it.  The players are the show.  I'd rather have my player say something about me.  That's the guy that you work for.   Maybe, if he was being interviewed, or if we did well,  and he felt like something good about6 the job I did.  Ian Leggatt, my player, thought, maybe they should announce the caddy names, then the gallery could get a nice chuckle out of it, would give it some entertainment value!" 

"Three best nicknames on tour, Shitty, The Punk, and Reptile."  

Jim Freedman -"I'm flattered that the tournament recognizes us as a part of the team!" 

Victor Velasquez:  (Paul Claxton), "Nice, beautiful man, we're part of the game, they should do it every tournament" 

Alister Matheson:  (Geoff Ogilvy),  "I thought it was a nice touch and very appropriate."

D.J. "Hawk" Nucara:  (Grant Waite),  "I was surprised.  It struck me as odd.  As a caddy, I just didn't want to hear it.  I guess I'm from the old school.  (Caddy 17 years)  We're seen and not heard, we do our job, we're just like umpires.  I'm carrying the golf bag, not hitting the shot, and I just think that it's more appropriate to announce their names, not ours."

Chuck Moore:  (Bob Estes)  -"To tell you the truth, it was a bit uncomfortable.  I've always been one for, the tour and everything is about the players.  If the player wants to give the caddy for his good play, good clubbing,  or something in the heat of competition, I always thought that was great, but basically the tour is about the players.  I believe it was all well intended and I can't say enough about how Fed Ex and St. Jude have treated us here!"

Jimmy Walker:  (15 years tour caddy) -"I was shocked, and after the shock, I was embarrassed by it.  We carry the bag, we don't need to be identified, I don't think that's what we're out here for.  I think it should be, and I hope it is done with!"

Dave Beighle, -(Neil Lancaster) (correctly pronounce Begley, was announced as Dave Beigle!)  -"I thought other than the mispronunciation of my name, definitely different.  I don't see anything wrong with, as long as the players don't mind."

Scott Gneiser, -(David Toms) -"I was surprised, thought it was kind of neat at first.  They are trying to treat us as people.  But on the other hand, I don't think it's something that should or needs to be done.  I could put you into a bad spot, if something wasn't going too well that day, for example.  I don't think that it needs to be done."

Eric Bajas, -"I didn't really like it.  First of all they pronounced it wrong.  I just don't think that the caddies name should be mentioned along with the player.  Even though they meant us well in so doing."

(This was just a sampling of those caddies interviewed)
  

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