In Their Own Words Heavy Putter

By Casey BiererMarch 24, 2006, 5:00 pm
Founded three years ago, Heavy Putters corporate headquarters are in Ridgefield, Connecticut just north of Westchester County in New York.
 
Stephen Boccieri is the founder of Heavy Putter. Formally a mechanical engineer for one of the worlds largest petrochemical and nuclear industry engineering companies, Steve specialized in the design of piping systems for nuclear power plants.

 
A CONVERSATION WITH STEPHEN BOCCIERI.
 
Casey / Q:
Steve, whats your background in golf?
 
Steve / A:
Stephen Bocceiri
Heavy Putter founder Stephen Bocceiri.
I started playing when I was 8 years old and Im 53 now. I was a scratch player for many years and probably the one thing that I focused on was the lack of knowledge that people had about golf equipment.
 
Casey / Q:
Did your initial interest in golf equipment stem from your engineering background?
 
Steve / A:
Id say thats part of it. I worked for a company called Stone & Webster. They provided full-service engineering, design, construction and consulting services for power, process, environmental/infrastructure and industrial markets worldwide. I was in that business for 25 years. Personally, I specialized in designing the piping systems used in nuclear power plants. This industry started to dry up in 1994. I continued to serve as a consultant for Stone & Webster, but, my time in that industry was coming to an end.
 
Casey / Q:
Just because youre a scratch golfer doesnt necessarily mean that you are an equipment junkie.
 
Steve / A:
No, youre right. I think the engineer in me eventually necessitated that I understand how golf equipment works. I never really got good answers from people in the industry as to why heads and shafts reacted the way they did. At least not at the time I was asking the questions. When I asked the local pros they would kind of shrug their shouldersthey really just wanted to give lessons. Nothing wrong with that, but, I was looking for answers they couldnt give me. My hunger for knowledge was to the point where I said Im just going to do it myself.
 
Casey / Q:
And so you started building golf equipment?
 
Steve / A:
No, not initially. Initially I tinkered around with my own golf equipment in terms of cutting, bendingI had my own lie and loft machine, things like that. And I would re-grip my own clubs. Thats how it started. But, eventually I started to reverse-engineer golf clubs ' the shafts and heads. I started to buy everything made in the golf industry and I was ripping this stuff apart. I was buying new golf clubs and destroying them so I could understand what made them different from one another and what made them work. Pulling the shafts, taking the heads to band saws and looking at the way they were constructed. I started to understand a little more about materials and face thicknesses and things like that.
 
Casey / Q:
Somebody told me a story, I dont know if its true or not, about you making hot drivers to goof on your golf buddies.
 
Steve / A:
It is a true story. Through my engineering background I knew about the coefficient of restitution ' how a driver face rebounds - and what that means to a golfer. So, I started shaving down faces of drivers ' then current metal drivers ' like Great Big Berthas. They had a face thickness in the area of 3.5 millimeters or better and I was shaving them down to 2.8 millimeters; very thin but still strong enough that they wouldnt crack. What I was doing was creating a very hot face and blowing the ball twenty yards or more past everybody else out there. And my friends said, Steve, why does your driver face look so funny? It has no lines on the face. And Id say, ahhh, I hit a lot of balls and I wore the lines off. I never really indicated to anybody what I was doing. Of course, I was playing with an illegal driver but nobody knew that at the time. Now, I didnt play USGA sanctioned events with the illegal driver. But I used to love to blow the ball past my friends and have them scratch their heads.
 
Casey / Q:
Hmmm. Well, I guess thats one way to hit it longer. Ive also been told your first scientifically based study of equipment was on shafts.
 
Steve / A:
Yes. When I got more seriously involved I did an expansive study on shaft technology. Way back when I was doing profiles on shafts - when people knew only about butt frequency in frequency matched shafts - I knew that there was more happening in the dynamic end of the shaft, which is the tip, than what people were reporting on. So I designed a profile system and tested every shaft that was made from 1995, 1996, 1997all those years. And the more I learned about how shafts worked, the more I realized that if you could properly fit a golfer with the right shaft, a shaft that helps optimize a players ability, that golfer would in fact hit more consistent drives. Of the three thousand shafts that I categorized they all fell in to one of five categories. It was really quite interesting. It got to the point that I could fit somebody simply by getting them to swing one out of five golf clubs of a particular shaft category. Then wed dial in the other parameters - grip pressure, your angle of attack, the timing of your release, your tempo, etc. And I could determine what shaft in what club was perfect for your style of swing.
 
Casey / Q:
And this all came about strictly due to your quest for knowledge?
 
Steve / A:
It started off that way. But, then I thought I would start a custom club building business. However, I chose not to do that. But, as a result of all the testing, I had this tremendous database of information on shafts. Several OEMs and shaft companies offered to buy the database at the time. Considering all the years of effort that went in to collecting the data, I decided not to sell. The deal was never really good enough and I thought I could do something proprietary with that information at a later date.
 
Casey / Q:
OK. Lets move forward from shafts to putters. How did your work with putters evolve?
 
Steve / A:
Heavy Putter
Heavy Putter Matte Series A3.
The same objective of classifying all these shafts was the thought process that led to Heavy Putter. Because what I was doing was trying to find consistency in shaft response. Then I began to look at consistency in the putting stroke. I wanted to find out what factors in putting and putters led to inconsistency of distance and control. What could you do to a putter to make your stroke become more consistent? So I started playing around with adding weight to a putter which I had always done to my own putters. But, I never really equated significant weight to increased feel. I did know that a heavier putter made me more accurate and consistent on very short putts. I was almost automatic five feet and in when I didnt have to apply an external force for the ball to get to the hole. It was more of a pendulum motion; heavy mass at the end was great for short putts.
 
Casey / Q:
And for longer putts?
 
Steve / A:
There was a downside for longer putts. I started adding more and more weight and it got to the point where I added so much weight to the putter, again, it was very effective on short putts, but, when I had a sixty foot putt and I would accelerate the putter in to the impact area the mass at the end exacerbated my wrist release. This was due to such a low center of gravity. It was like a slingshot or like having a bowling ball at the end of string. I couldnt control this through the impact area. So at that point I said, well, this is a great thing ' the weight is doing wonders for feel and stability on short putts but I cant control it on the long putts.
 
Casey / Q:
And thats when you started working with back weight?
 
Steve / A:
Yes. Its been a practice in the golf industry to control the balance point of a golf club or to adjust the swing weight. Thats by no means a new thing. But, I hadnt previously equated it to what I was doing with building heavy putters. Now, I had just gotten a delivery of a 430 gram belly putter head. In fact, I remember I was on the phone with someone when the head was delivered. I happened to have a regular length putter shaft leaning against my desk. No grip on it. So I stuck it in the head of the putter ' this was an extra heavy head designed for use with a long belly putter shaft ' but I put a regular length putter shaft in. At 430 grams it felt like a ton of weight at the end of the shaft.
 
Casey / Q:
And youre still on the phone?
 
Steve / A:
Yes. Im still on the phone and I start stroking putts with my left hand only while holding the phone in my right hand. Once that heavy head got to the end of the arch of the putting stroke the wrist broke down. There was no way you were going to be able to control it. Now, there was no grip on shaft so the end of the shaft was open. What I havent told you yet is that simultaneous to working with the putters, I was building long drivers for the professional long drive competitors. And in doing this for a while I had learned to counterbalance drivers with weight in the butt section to give these guys better feel because the shafts were so lone. I made weight cylinders that would fit in the open end of the shaft. So, Im still on the phone and I take one of these counter-balance weight cylinders and I put it in the opening of the butt end of the shaft. Then I pick the putter back up ' the phone was still in my right hand - and I start hitting putts with my left hand. It was instantly amazing. The putter became connected to my arm and the wrist breakdown was gone. It was totally gone.
 
Casey / Q:
And youre like, wow, this is great?
 
Steve / A:
Im telling you, that little light bulb that youre lucky to get once in your life went off in my head. I stroked one handed putts in total control, like fifteen putts in a row, and I made fifteen putts in row; this was from twelve feet. And this was with one hand. So I told the guy on the phone, hey, Ive got to go. I just came up with something. I got off the phone and Im just standing there looking at the putter and that was the eureka moment. That was basically the day of the birth of the technology behind the Heavy Putter.
 
Casey / Q:
How did you go from that point to where you zeroed in on specific parameters?
 
Steve / A:
Well, at that point I knew I had increased head mass and I had the back weight but I didnt know how much weight is too much and how much is too little. So I made more of these back weight cylinders. I must have had fifteen different categories of weight cylinders starting at fifty grams and going all the way up to like 400 grams in twenty five gram increments. I had no idea at that point what was going happen to the feel and performance of the putter. I was like a mad scientist. Its like you come up with this concoction and then you have to make it better. So I experimented adding all these back weights and then I came up with the head design that was like a sled. And what I was able to do was add fifteen different weights to the head to be able to change the head weight.
 
Casey / Q:
But you were also dealing with the back weight part of the equation.
 
Steve / A:
Thats right. If you can visualize this matrix ' its like fifteen different head weights and fifteen different back weights and to find the right combination would have taken a hundred years. Every time you changed a head weight youd have to change every one of the back weights to come up with the proper analysis. It was a very long, drawn-out processhours and hours of testingto finally come up with a weight combination necessary to really engage the upper body muscles and negate the wrist muscles. There was a total weight combination that I had to achieve that was heavy enough for me to start to really feel it in my biceps when I picked the putter up. Once I got the total weight, then I focused on establishing dispersion of the weight; how much would be in the head versus how much would be in the butt end of the golf club to achieve the balance point that would allow me to control my wrist release. And that was the key to how it all evolved.
 
Casey / Q:
Lets talk a little bit about the process of getting the original putters made to spec.
 
Steve / A:
I had milling shops that I worked with for the last ten years leading up to Heavy Putter from when I was doing a lot of other golf related type studies. I had people that I was able to work with and theyd mill the putter heads for me. The raw skid that we came up with to do all the weight testing in the beginning was nothing close to the design of the putter that we ended up taking to the PGA Tour for testing. That putter was originally created from clay models that I baked right in my oven at home and then from the clay modelonce I had something aesthetically pleasing to my eye - I took that to a 3-D modeling studio and using a CAD system the putter was carefully designed. Then I sent those files to very high quality CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) millers ' a company out in San Diego actually ' and the first prototypes were cut.
 
Casey / Q:
Now that you are a production model putter maker selling to the consumer, versus just the tour, how has the process changed?
 
Steve / A:
The original putter that was out on the PGA TOUR was a one hundred percent CNC milled putter from a solid billet of steel. The amount of time the original heads took to mill was about 120 minutes of milling time per putter head. And here in the U.S. milling time is roughly a buck a minute. So those original heads at low volume for PGA TOUR use were costing about $120 per headjust the raw cost of the head. We made a limited edition run that we took to the PGA TOUR and we used these putters the first year. Obviously, by the time you added all the other elements in the cost of the putter was so high that we had to come up with different methods of manufacturing if we were going to be successful at the consumer level. However, once we got acceptance from the TOUR, and we thought, wow, maybe weve got something here, I then started to investigate going off-shore to have the putters made.
 
Casey / Q:
And you are able to maintain the quality of the putter? In other words, you didnt have to give anything up while you were bringing the cost down?
 
Steve / A:
Heavy Putter Matte Series
Heavy Putter Matte Series B3.
Not at all. In fact, the quality has gotten better over time. We kept the process the same but we figured out better ways to do things. We were able to speed things up by starting with a raw forging of the head ' already in the shape of the putter head ' instead of starting with the billet. Then we 100% CNCd the forging. There was still a ton of metal we had to remove, but by doing that, we saved three pounds that no longer had to be removed in the milling process. The original billet weighed five pounds, the forging weighed two pounds. And we netted out of that a one pound putter head. We were able to drive down the cost drastically to about thirty-five dollars per head. This was still pretty high. This took us in to the marketplace at about $235 retail which was about what a Scotty Cameron was going for. Now, how could I charge as much or more than a Scotty Cameron when I didnt have the name or that kind of a proven track record? But we did enter the market at that $229 plus price range and still found some success.
 
Casey / Q:
But you werent really comfortable at that price point?
 
Steve / A:
No. I felt we were still too high to get the kind of market penetration I believe the putter deserves. So I made three trips to Taiwan last year and the last month there we started developing a casting of the product that was going to be almost 100% CNC milled but it got us to the point where we started out only fifty grams over the net weight of the finished product. And, obviously, casting is a lot less expensive than the forging process. So, we cut down the material cost and we cut down milling time. By doing that we were able to cast a putter out of the 304 stainless steel and create the same feel, the same weight ratioseverything is the same as the forged product we originally went to the Tour with but we brought the price range of the putter down now to the consumer at $199 including the tungsten weight kits.
 
Casey / Q:
I think people get so wrapped up in the technology sometimes that they forget about trying to run a successful business.
 
Steve / A:
Theres no question about that. You can have a great idea; you can even make a great prototype that performs, however, if you cant figure out how to produce your product while controlling costs and making a fair profit you arent going to be around very long. This new process gave us the necessary margins we needed for the company to make sense. And because we brought the putter in line with a reasonable price point, we were able to go market with the putter by way of an infomercial that would really explain the technology. Its hard to do that in a one page add in a magazine or a newspaper. The infomercial we have is exciting the consumer. Its also exciting the retailers and they are now giving us the opportunities we were looking for. You know, were in Dicks now, and Edwin Watts was one of the first major golf retailers to give us a shot. And theyre very excited because we explain the technology fully in our infomercial and then were driving those interested buyers in to their stores to buy the product.
 
Casey / Q:
Now, your putter is not a one-putter-fits-all deal. The putter is adjustable?
 
Steve / A:
The interesting thing about the evolution of the head itself and the fact that we have tip weights is that what I found when we did our testing was the weight combination that worked best for me might not be the weight combination that worked best for you. We did a lot of testing out at Hank Haneys Ranch with the Science in Motion people. We found a common weight that worked for 99% of the golfers. From that point we narrowed the band of adjustability to a range that makes sense for people to customize the putter. We have five different weights that can be put in to the heads which affects the balance point and affects the release of the putter. So, for example, if I have very soft hands on the putter and you held it more firmly, you and I would not stroke the putt the same way and we wouldnt release it at the same time. In my case I would probably lighten the head and raise the balance point. And in the case of someone who held on firmly you would probably increase the head weight and lower the balance point to create more release.
 
Casey / Q:
So it really is different strokes for different folks?
 
Steve / A:
We all putt differently and there isnt necessarily a right way to putt or a wrong way to putt. Just look at all the great professional golfers and how many different putting strokes there have been through the ages. If you looked at Bobby Lockes stroke by todays standards you would say he must be a horrible putter. But he may, in fact, be the greatest putter ever. He putted completely different than Crenshaw. But they got similar results. Was one right and one wrong? No. They were just different. And putting is probably the one area of the game that amateurs have at least a shot of reaching the kind of success that pros have. You dont have to have perfect mechanics to putt well. You just have to find a way to putt that works for you. And I believe Heavy Putter can help people do that.
 
Casey / Q:
Before I let you go, lets talk about the success that Troy Matteson has had using your putter.
 
Steve / A:
Yes, what a great story. Troy went from 110 in putting to number eight and became the leading money winner on the Nationwide Tour last year. Hes had the putter in his bag for almost two-and-a-half years. He was actually one of the first guys - when I brought the prototypes out to the Nationwide Tour stop in Pennsylvania in 04 - he was the first player to take it and put in play that week. And it has never left his bag. And this year, 06, we formally sponsor Troy who is now playing on the PGA Tour as a fully exempt player. Its such a thrill for us to see the putter used successfully at the highest levels of golf. So here we are, just a young company, and we have a sponsored player on the PGA Tour.
 
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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.) 

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Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.

Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.

Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.


11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.


11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.


1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.