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?
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
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.
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
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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