Caddies On Tour - Keeping It In The Family
WE ALL know the importance of the relationship between tour professionals and their caddies. They spend a great deal of time together - maybe five hours on the course, an hour or so on the range before every round, perhaps another hour afterwards. Then eat together, they travel together. It’s almost like a marriage. It should come as no surprise then to see an increasing number of golfers turning to friends and family to lug those golf bags around the fairways of the world.
Here we look at 10 golfers who have done precisely that...
Playing in the 1995 Mauritius Open, a tournament that a certain well-known European Tour golfer described as "half vacation, half tournament,” he bought a pushcart for his then wife after she said she wanted to caddie for the week. "We got about halfway through the first hole when we came up to a steep 40 foot hill,” said the player. "Once we got to the top, she turned to me and said, 'It's probably best to just get a local caddie', and walked off. At least she lasted one hole.” Did he have any advice for those considering putting their wife on the bag? "Yeah," he said. "Don't.” The golfer in question? Lee Westwood, a man who has clearly changed his views. He is enjoying a career renaissance as he approaches his 48th birthday with girlfriend Helen Storey on his bag. He - and she - would be the first to admit that Helen is not a golfer and is not really a proper professional caddie, but the pair have a great chemistry and whatever they have on the golf course is clearly working. And Westwood will be keeping in in the family at The Masters when Helen will be given a week off and will be replaced by his son, Sam.
The Dustinator and his brother Austin have enjoyed huge success together. Dustin would be the first to admit that he is not one of golf’s great thinkers, and the same applies to Austin. But they have a certain chemistry. And it works. While Dustin stalks the greens, Austin famously gets down on all fours to read lines for his brother. Their discussions when it comes to club selection are pretty basic, but it seems to work.
Reed won his first PGA Tour title, the 2013 Wyndham Championship, with his wife Justine on the bag. “If you had told me with all the work I put into my nursing degree I’d be doing this, I wouldn’t have believed you. When I told my Dad, he was like, ‘You’re doing what?’” She was on the bag as Reed came through Q-School to reach the Tour and then for his first two years on the PGA Tour.The partnership only ended when Justine discovered that she was pregnant. Reed didn’t need to look too far for her replacement. He hired his brother-in-law, Kessler Karain and they have gone on to enjoy huge success together.
It is always a challenge for any young golfer who decides to turn professional, probably all the more so for a teenage girl. Brooke had a unique solution to the problem. She asked her sister, Brittany, how she fancied joining her on the LPGA Tour. Brittany agreed, helping her then 17-year-old sister to her first victory in 2015 - by the small matter of eight shots.
In 2013 Jessica Korda made headlines when she fired her caddie mid-round during the U.S. Women's Open. It left her with a small problem - who would carry her bag for the rest of the round. Her boyfriend was on the other side of the ropes. Korda summoned him and he carried her clubs for the rest of the tournament and for several weeks afterwards before she decided to employ a professional caddie.
Former Open champion Mark Calcavecchia had his wife Brenda on the bag for years although she famously went missing in action at the 2008 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. With the rain hammering down and the wind howling around the links, Calcavecchia arrived on the tee for his 7.30am starting time but Mrs C was nowhere to be seen. He had to hire a local man who had no experience of caddying and at the end of his opening round of 76 stormed off the course without a word to the waiting media. It seemed that Brenda just didn’t fancy it. And who could blame her?
Stricker has a reputation for being a real family man, so it should have surprised nobody when his wife, Nicki, started carrying his clubs. The going rate for bagmen is 10%. So how much does Stricker pay his spouse? “Well, let’s just say that she gets way more than 10%. She gets whatever she wants,” Stricker says. Nicki knows her way around a golf course. She was an outstanding player in her days at the University of Wisconsin.
When the Northern Irishman decided that he had achieved everything he could with JP Fitzgerald carrying his bag, he made a bold call when it came to finding a replacement. He turned to Harry Diamond, a man with absolutely no experience in the field. Diamond is a decent enough golfer but had never carried a bag in a professional tournament. So why did McIlroy employ him? Diamond was one of his closest friends. They have enjoyed some tremendous success but there are still many who believe that McIlroy is missing a trick by not having an experienced caddie on his bag.
Kuchar had been with caddie John Wood since 2015 when Wood contacted him after the 2020 US PGA Championship and told the American that he’d had enough. With the BMW Championship looming, Kuchar had little time to find a replacement so asked his wife, Sybi, to take the bag. “She was planning on coming to the tournament anyway, and then when John pulled out she said she was happy to do it,” Kuchar said. “She’s caddied a handful of times, and it’s been great for us to be able to spend some time together. I think she gets some enjoyment out of being involved and being inside the ropes.”
Drysdale is the epitome of what is described as the journeyman professional. He has nevertheless made a decent living on the European Tour with his wife Victoria alongside him. They have been married for more than 25 years and she is his full-time caddie, and takes her job very seriously. Victoria is not just there to make up the numbers. She helps her husband with club selection and yardages. She says: “There haven’t been any fights, despite us being with each other 24/7. The other wives and caddies have been great about it. At first, I worried the other caddies would be growling that I was stealing their job but they’ve been fine. A couple of golfers have admitted that they’d also asked their wives to caddie for them but they’d refused.”
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