When Caddying Becomes a Family Affair
This weekend was very much one for the golf romantics as Lee Westwood and Matt Kuchar rolled back the years to pick up their first victories in more than four years. Unbelievably, both of the players previous wins came on the exact same weekend in April 2014, making this weekend’s successes even more remarkable. Another interesting note to take from Westwood’s win is that it was his partner, Helen Storey who was his caddying for him. The Englishman has been known to have a family member on the bag from time to time, for example when his son, Sam, caddied for him during this year’s Andalucia Valderrama Masters. Each player has their own reason for working with a specific caddie and in recent years we’ve seen many pros opt to employ a friend or family member; be it permanently or temporarily. We take a look at some of the most notable golfers to have done so.
Where better to begin than the Women’s British Open champion and recent winner of The Sunday Times Young Sportswoman of the Year Award, Georgia Hall. The 22-year-old, from Bournemouth has always been a fan of having a loved on hand to carry her bag. Originally, her father, Wayne, was the man for the job, but he was not able to continue doing so when his daughter began her journey on the LPGA Tour. This was due to the amount of travelling involved and meant that Hall was without a caddie. At this point, she decided that her boyfriend, Harry, would take over and he became her permanent caddie. Interestingly, for this year’s British Open, the golfer decided that her father would have the honour of walking inside the ropes as her caddie and she went on to claim a well-deserved victory. Harry was there throughout the event to support her, so I’m sure he still felt involved in the success.
Ryder Cup star and all-round fan favourite, Tommy Fleetwood has had close friend and fellow Everton supporter, Ian Finnis on the bag for a couple of years now. Fleetwood decided to call in his pal in 2016 when he was in a torrid run of form and it seems that this was one change that really helped get his career back on track. Since then, the pair have become one of the most likeable and recognisable partnerships on tour and are always up for a laugh whilst getting the job done.
Perhaps the most famous family caddie partnership is that of Jack Nicklaus and his son, also called Jack. The two linked up at the 1986 Masters, which turned out to be the final time that the great man would put on the green jacket following a victory at Augusta. Nicklaus had a great relationship with his previous caddie, Angelo Argea, who walked the fairways with ‘the Golden Bear’ for more than 20 years. The pair won just about everything there is to win in golf and the golfing world loved it. The 1986 Masters provided a story that all could love, a brilliant moment for the game and for the Nicklaus family. That tournament will live in the minds of many forever and lives on each year when Masters time comes around in the famous picture of the father-son duo reading a green. The Nicklaus family and Augusta just seem to go hand in hand. When Nicklaus’ grandson caddied for him in this year’s par-3 challenge, he was lucky enough to produce a hole-in-one in-front of his grandad and millions of spectators. Magic.
The PGA Tour veteran is not seen out on the course as much as he once was but there’s no doubt that he has been, for a number of years, one of several fabulous American professionals. Between 2007 and 2015, Jimmy Johnson was by Stricker’s side out on the course, but with the American’s increasingly more fragmented schedule Johnson chose to change his path. He hooked up with a 22-year-old, Justin Thomas, who as we all know is now one of the world’s best talents. This, is where Stricker’s wife Nicki came in (again). Having been on the bag for her partner’s opening five seasons on the PGA Tour, it wasn’t a huge surprise to see her offer he assistance once again. In many ways, it is nice to see Nicki caddying again and it has a slightly nostalgic feel about it, casting the mind back to the opening years of what was to be an absolutely stunning career.
The fact that the American has been so successful throughout his entire career is a testament to the natural ability that he possesses. His success never seemed to be hampered by his caddies switches and his time with his wife, Brenda It is believed that the original reason for Brenda accompanying her husband was to save costs, and this was the beginning for an iconic on-course relationship. Calcavecchia was known for switching caddies whenever he fancied, but it was clear that he was comfortable with Brenda on the bag as he was able to pick up more than one victory during their time together.
Elsewhere, notable examples include Rory McIlroy having close friend Harry Diamond on the bag, former Ryder Cup player Stephen Gallacher with his son Jack, and Masters champion Patrick Reed, who was caddied by his wife early in his career. Last year, Chris Paisley won the South African Open with his wife Keri by his side. Dustin Johnson has used the services of his brother, Austin, since 2013, while two-time major champion Sandy Lyle regularly had his wife Jolande on the bag.
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