I recently read an article about tour caddies and found it very interesting. I hope you do, too.
Most golf played these days in Florida is on a golf cart equipped with GPS systems, which give you computer images of the hole and yardages. These carts have become our "caddies," but lack the personal touch.
At the professional level of golf, real life, flesh and blood caddies play an integral part in the success of the player. Those who have tour experience understand the value of this and know that mental side of golf is so important.
Good caddies know how their players react to pressure and can supply the right dose of counseling, allowing golfers to perform at their best.
To quote Alfred "Rabbit" Dwyer, who caddied for Gary Player for 18 years, "A caddie is a player's best friend on the golf course. Nobody knows a player better than his caddie, not even the player's wife."
That might be a stretch, but the caddie-player relationship requires the right personalities and understanding from both sides during tough times.
Coming from similar socio-economic backgrounds can be the glue that keeps pairings together.
Lee Trevino and his long-term caddie, the late Herman Mitchell, are good examples of growing up poor, which each understood, allowing them to create a bond.
Tom Watson and his late caddie, Bruce Edwards, shared similar backgrounds in that Edward's father was a doctor and Watson's in insurance. Again, this bonding of personalities makes life on the tour easier during the long weeks on the road.
If anyone misses that special player/caddie relationship, it's Nick Price. His former caddie, Jeff "Squeaky" Medlen, was the perfect partner to help Price rise to stardom. They traveled the world, winning two PGA Championships, a British Open and the Player's Championship, among many others. Sad to say, this relationship came to an end in June 1999 when Medlen died of leukemia. Price thinks of him often and says, "I miss him as a friend and confidante."
So, I think you can see by now how golf's second banana, the caddie, plays such an important role in the tour player's success.
The way it is for most is becoming their own caddie or best friends. Too many players are so impatient with themselves that they spoil any chance of doing their best.
If you don't have a caddie available, become your own, at least mentally. Give yourself a break, slow down and think things through. If you play partner's golf, give your partner a boost when they need it. They'll do the same for you. You may not be playing golf for a living, as the tour stars do, but playing well and enjoying golf will make you a winner at any level.
We all engage in self-talk, so be nice. When you berate yourself for hitting a poor shot, think how it would look to have a tour caddie yell at his/her player in the heat of battle. The caddie wouldn't dream of it and you shouldn't either.
Yours for better golf
Del Starks is a PGA teaching professional at Abacoa Golf Club in Jupiter. Contact him at (561) 262-0708, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.delstarks.com.