In the old days, a professional golf caddie had pretty much three rules to follow when hauling around the bag. They really are/were quite simple.
”Show up, shut up and keep up”
Over the years those rules have somewhat evolved. Nowadays, besides keeping the golfer’s clubs clean they have taken on a more expansive role. Caddie duties now include helping in the reading of putts (only when asked), knowing the distance to various targets and hazards on the course, knowing where the pin placements are, replacing divots and raking bunkers, tending the pin, and, most importantly, keeping the golfer’s head in place. After all, this is the guy/gal who you’ve hitched your star to and if you want to see any of the earnings it's a good idea to have them playing their best. While it’s sort of an unwritten code in golf a professional caddie can expect to earn 5% of the players earnings if they make the cut, 7% if the player finishes in the top ten and up to 10% if the player brings home the bacon and wins the tournament.
Many golfers form long term relationships with their caddies and have them on their bag for a number of years or quite possibly for an entire career. Of course, when things go south and it’s time to make a change the caddie might be the first to go. Take for example, Tiger Woods. He recently “fired” his long term caddie of 12 or so years when he began to fall off the pace stating that it was “time to make a change”. Naturally this fall off wouldn’t have anything to do with his recent infidelities or injuries but somebody had to take the fall.
In a strange twist of irony or fate, Woods old caddie, one Steve Williams, recently was hired by fellow pro Adam Scott. Adam Scott then went out and won the Bridgestone Invitational in Tiger’s first comeback appearance. Woods finished 18 shots off the pace and tied for 37th.
In an unprecedented interview, Williams was given more air time than the eventual tournament winner and called this victory “the best win he’s ever had”. Did somebody say “sour grapes”? I’d say that’s some pretty tall talk considering he was on Tiger’s bag for 13 majors, 16 world titles and 72 tournament victories and is probably a millionaire many times over.
Most members of the golfing community considered this a breach of “golf etiquette” and I tend to agree with them. The caddie should be seen, not heard and any accolades should go to the players.
For the record though, Williams was pretty much a dick when he was on Tiger’s bag. He intimidated spectators, reporters and cameramen in efforts to keep them away from his meal ticket.
Funny how water rises to its own level.