'Haul' of Fame
      with Lorne LeBere

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Our first Caddybytes.com selection to the "Haul of Fame" is Lorne LeBere, known as 'Little Rabbit' by nickname.  He's been caddying full time for the last 12 years  on the Senior PGA Tour, and was regular PGA Tour caddy since 1969.  Here's our interview with 'The Little Rabbit'!

 Q.)  'So how did you go about  becoming a professional tour caddy?'

 A.)  -" I was living in California in 1969, out of the service, when I went to the Bob Hope Classic. I got to watch the tournament, which in those days was one of the big events on the Pro Golf Circuit. I got to talk to some of the caddies about how they went about caddying. The next year I took a weeks vacation with the idea of trying to caddy the tournament. I was hanging around the putting green by the driving range at the old Eldorado Country Club, and the caddy master at the time, , comes out and makes an announcement, "All you caddies down below, I’ll call you up when it’s your turn to get a loop!" Then he sees me standing there and says, "Are you a caddy, you wanna work this week?" "I had caddied in high school as a kid, knew how to carry the bag and so forth, so I said "yeh, I’d like to caddy!" So he says to me, "you want a pro, or an amateur?" (The Hope was a big Celebrity Pro Am in those days played over 5 days and 4 different golf courses in the Palm Springs area.)

"So I said, I want a pro!" He tells me, o.k. then go down below, and I’ll give you a call to come up when it’s your turn. So about a half hour or 45 minutes later, he calls me up, and gives me a pro, Billy Johnston, we make the cut, make a pretty good check, $15 per day and about 3%, all that stuff you had to do, like shagging balls on the driving range, making up your own yardage book, you had to line yourself up with the old sprinkler heads, with trees and the back of bunkers, etc, no laser beams like you have today -you really had to do your homework" -(In Reference to the current day use of lasers which professional caddies now have at their disposal to evaluate a tournament course today.)  

"So every caddy had different numbers out there,  and a lot of the caddies yardages were bad! Some times you’d be out there and you’d be right alongside another player, you might have 162, and the other guys got 173!  So there's an 11 yard difference right there, and you'd have to convince your player which one to believe, and you'd better be the one right!"  

Q.)  Who are some of the 'Name' players that you’ve caddied for in the past and who did you win with over the years?
A.)  -"Among assorted others I caddied for Tom Kite and Tom Weiskopf.  My first win was with Rod Curl in 1974 when we won at Colonial –where we beat Jack Nicklaus by one shot! Then I won with Hubert Green at the Southern Open, in 1984, then won the PGA Championship with Hubert in 1985 at Cherry Hills in Denver. In between lost in playoff caddying for J.C. Snead in 1971 at , lost in a 5 hole playoff caddying for Robert Wrenn at Las Vegas CC. In 1988. Then I Won, (as a caddy), on the senior tour with Charley Coody, Rocky Thompson, won the Vantage Championship with Walter Zembriski, won in Park City Utah with Tony Jacklin".

Q.)  So in all your years of caddying you haven't won but 3-4 times on the regular tour and then maybe 4 or 5 times on the Senior Tour, and not necessarily with those so called 'Name' players is that right?
A.)  "Yeah, for the most part I'd say so.  Winning is easier when you’ve got a horse. You could be the best jockey in the world, Willie Shoemaker, or Pincay or somebody like that,, but if you’re riding a donkey, then, lets’ say there’s a spider monkey riding Secretariat, strapped on, Who’s gonna win? -Secretariat of course!?" 

Q.)   How does caddying today differ from when you first came out to caddy in 1969?

A.)   "When I did it, (came out to caddy), it was more for the love of the sport more than anything else 'cause' you didn’t make any money. There wasn’t really any money back when I started, -4 maybe 5 guys made all the money, -with the top players. You had Angelo (Argea), working for Jack Nicklaus, Creamy Caroline working for Arnold Palmer, Neal (who was working for Trevino at that time), Mitch –(Herman Mitchell who later worked for Trevino), working for Miller Barber, Dove Taylor working for Billy Casper, and so on."

Q.)   So it's now more about the money  than love of the game, than when you came out would you say -it must have been tough making $15 a day and with all that traveling?

A.)   "That's Right!  Did a lot of traveling in those days with Ralph Coffee, (veteran caddy from that era). We'd drive all night from one tournament to the next and stay in a lot of those types of hotels people normally would rent by the hour, but we’d get em for the night -and stay in em for the week, $6/night specials, which we named' ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ Motels. 

Q.)   How did you get the nickname "Little Rabbit"?

A.)   "When I first came out to caddy, they had a rule, you could only caddy for a guy for 3 weeks in a row at the most. Certain tournaments we couldn’t caddy in, mostly the big ones. So I came up with the idea of looking at results of tournaments from different years to see who played well at those courses I was going to try to caddy at. And I also, worked on Mondays, as in those days up until the all exempt tour in 1983, guys could qualify in  played for spots in a qualifying tournament at each spot on Mondays each week. And in those days, if you made the cut, you were automatically in, (the tournament),  the following week. But you were only exempt from having to qualify on Mondays if you were top 60 from the previous years money list. So, that was the best way to get a guy in the tournament, and get your self a job, if you missed the cut, get to the next site and try to qualify someone. In one stretch, I qualified 19 different guys  in 19 straight weeks, on Monday, that was in 1971, and they all missed the cut! That’s how I got the idea to start handicapping them first, and also how I got nicknamed ‘Little Rabbit’, for qualifying all those Monday 'Rabbits!' ,and because, Big Rabbit, (Alfred Dyer), was already caddying for Gary Player at the time, with the same nickname!"

Q.)   A couple of years ago, ESPN did some caddy commercials which the fans loved, I remember you did a couple of them, as did some of the guys, like Fluff Cowan and others. One of them was pretty funny about the British Open which ESPN used for their promo for the tournament that year, how did that come about?

A.)   One of them was just before the British Open and ESPN was doing their usual two day coverage upcoming, so they asked me about replacing divots and how it was done any differently ‘over there’ by the caddies. So I did my own version, having caddied the British Open twice, once for Hal Sutton in the 1980’s. I said in my best British Accent imitation "they pick em up, dust em off, properly place them back in position, and Then stomp down on em!" They all got a kick out of that!"

Q.)  You're 60 years old now and still caddying, how long do you think you can go on!

A.)  "I still like it a lot, sure it's not as easy getting good bags now.  Creamy Caroline didn't quit until his 70's, (of Arnold Palmer fame), and Lee Lynch the same thing. But when you think about doing something else like getting a job -it's nothing but stress out there in the real world, and the golf course is such a great place to spend your time, and you always think that there's one more big finish just around the corner.  I guess as long as the Good Lord is willing and I stay healthy -who knows!?"*

(Lorne lives in Jacksonville Florida, the home of the Tour near the TPC of Sawgrass. He is well respected in the world of professional golf by both the players and caddies alike!)                                                 

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