Things caddies hate to hear from their bosses

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2009, 4:00 pm
PALM HARBOR, Fla. ' The only way Phil Mickelson could advance his ball from beneath a bush on the 12th hole at Doral was to swing from the other side. As is often the case, there was a risk involved.
I certainly didnt want to have to hit a right-handed shot with the lead, he said.
What concerned his caddie was the chance it could hit a palm tree and ricochet into even worse trouble, if not out-of-bounds. Thats why Jim Bones Mackay suggested a more conservative option by taking a penalty stroke and moving 20 yards back.
He was overruled. Lefty was adamant about going righty.
Ive done this before, Mickelson told him.
That might make the top 10 list of the worst things a caddie can hear his player say, but its not on Mackays list. He knew Mickelson had actually done it before.
One year Phil was playing at Summerlin with Neal Lancaster, Mackay said, referring to the Las Vegas tournament. The 12th hole was a par 4 where you drive it short of this lake, and then it runs all the way up the right side. Phil drove it next to a tree in front of the lake, so the next shot was entirely over water. He turns over an 8-iron and knocks it right-handed onto the green, 15 feet from the hole.
Neal hits it to 30 feet and left the first putt 15 feet short. Before he putted the next one, he turns to Phil and says two things ' I cant believe that shot you hit, and Ive got no chance of making this putt. And he missed it.
The right-handed shot at Doral came out perfectly ' except that it hit a tree. Luckily for Mickelson, it dropped down into the rough, and he wound up making only a bogey. Mickelson went on to win the CA Championship by one shot.
The caddie-player relationship took on a peculiar twist Tuesday afternoon on the practice range at Innisbrook when J.P. Hayes hit a smother-hook into the trees and uttered with genuine surprise, Whooooaaa!
Paul Goydos looked over at him and smiled.
Thats probably the worst thing a caddie can hear his player say, Goydos said.
And so began an animated discussion of the worst things a caddie can hear his player say. Among them:
  • I think its time for us to make a change.
    This is player-caddie code for Youre fired.
  • Ill keep the yardage book today.
    This does not mean the player is taking some of the workload off the caddie. This is a bad sign that usually precedes, I think its time for us to make a change. It happened to Mike Fluff Cowan at Riviera in 1999, and it was the last time he caddied for Tiger Woods.
  • How far did you say we had?
    Such a question typically is posed after a shot goes either 30 yards over the green or comes up 30 yards short. Usually, it means the caddie made a mathematical blunder ' but not always.
    Shaun Micheel flew the 16th green at Wentworth by some 20 yards in the World Match Play Championship final against Paul Casey. Everyone assumed he had a bad yardage, especially when Micheel was overheard telling caddie Tony Lingard after making double bogey, Dont say another word to me the rest of the day.
    But thats not what happened. Micheel wanted to hit 8-iron, and when the ball sailed over the green, caddie Tony Lingard said to him, Told you it was a 9-iron. Now thats probably the worst thing a caddie can say to his player.
    Some other things a caddie never want to hear from his player:
  • Get down.
    In other words, the ball has no chance of finding the green.
  • Go.
    See above.
  • Why do we have two drivers in the bag?
    Ian Woosnams caddie actually figured this out by himself on the second tee of the final round at the 2001 British Open. The extra club came with a two-stroke penalty.
  • Can you get my cell phone? Im going to see if I can catch an early flight.
    This is especially bad to hear on Friday morning. It means the player has no chance of making the cut, or believes he has no chance, which is even worse.
  • I think Im going to add Pebble Beach to my schedule this year.
    Why is this the last thing a caddie wants to hear? Not just because the rounds can be long with two pros and two amateurs over three days. And not because the bag will be heavier than usual with all the rain gear. The toughest part for a caddie is getting to the other two courses on the rotation, then finding the parking lot.
    Mackay has been working for Mickelson the last 16 years, and he was asked for his own list of worst things Lefty can say to him. Based on the answers, he probably was kidding.
  • Do you like this club if I decide to skip it across the water?
    Mickelson is among the best at skipping tee shots across the pond on the 16th hole at Augusta National, which has become a tradition during the practice round. It would not be terribly unusual for him to try it in competition.
  • Whats the carry over everything?
  • Did you hear what I just said to you?
    Mickelson said this on the 18th hole at Baltusrol in the third round of the 2005 PGA Championship. He was buried in the left rough with a stream dissecting the fairway about 80 yards away. Lefty wanted to hit a 4-wood. Mackay insisted that he lay up short with a wedge, fearing the 4-wood would tumble into the water. The caddie tried one last time to talk him out of it when Mickelson said this to him.
    I looked like a buffoon when it came to rest behind the green, Mackay said.
  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.