The Caddie Dream Walk Begins

By Michael CollinsJanuary 2, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz Championship Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Tuesdays on GOLF CHANNEL.
 
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- So Im on an airplane flying to Maui for the first time and Im finding myself HATING on my fellow caddie brethren who are getting to walk the beauty of Kapalua which I am about to see for the first time.
 
I hate the fact that I never got a win as a caddie on the biggest stage in golf, the PGA TOUR. I did caddy a win on the Nationwide Tour, but it didnt get me a trip to Hawaii. The fire still burns in me and I love it and hate it. Dont get me wrong, I am really starting to enjoy this writing (and the responses) and doing play-by-play on XM 146 PGA TOUR Network (shameless plug) online for free.
 
I havent missed a cut in a year and have been in one of the final two groups more than Tiger in the past year BUT I see my friends, guys youll never hear about -- Miguel, Crispy, John, Timmy, etc. Guys who caddy for the likes of Charlie Hoffman, Mark Wilson, Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney, just to name a few, and I am SO jealous.
 
There are a bunch of caddies this week also making their first trip to Maui, but they are starting their year off with a guaranteed cut made and a NICE paycheck (check out what last place pays). And the be-all-end-all: this week a caddy will leave Maui with an extra $110,000! Thats right, boys and girls, first week back after the holidays and all the holiday bills about to start coming in and some lucky (enter your own expletive here) is gonna walk/fly out with 10 percent of the winner's purse of $1.1 million. And that doesnt count the weekly salary. Ive gotten so many questions about how much a caddie makes Im gonna break down the basics for yall.
 
First and foremost, caddies are INDEPENDENT contractors. The PGA TOUR does not pay them. They are paid by the players directly. ANY caddie can be fired at ANY time for ANY reason. Yes, Tiger could fire Steve tomorrow and Steve wouldnt be running to a lawyer with a contract screaming BREACH! Caddies dont have contracts; its one of the things that makes our business a volatile one. A lot of good caddies have been fired for reasons as ridiculous as a player's wife didnt like him. But its the life, and caddies accept it because we love the competition as much as the players do.
 
Now to answer your money questions, I wont be specific about who makes what 'cause its between a player and a caddie. And frankly, do you want everybody checking out your paycheck? But youll be able to figure out the basics.
 
A caddy gets a weekly salary. This is because 95% of caddies have to pay all their own expenses: airfare, hotel, and even food (the caddy trailer's not free). So if a player misses the cut, a caddie still has to pay the bills and they dont get a check from Titleist for carrying the driver. Now the average weekly pay ranges between $1,000 and $3,000 a week. I do know of one player who doesnt pay a weekly salary and only pays a percentage so if he misses the cut UGH!
 
Now the percentage works like this: 10 percent for a win, 8 percent for a top-10, and 6 percent for a made cut. Some guys will take a bigger weekly salary for a smaller percentage, some will take a smaller salary for 10 percent across the board, either way, the better your man plays the better YOUR paycheck is. But this week there is NO CUT! So everybody is getting PAAAAAAIIIIID -- and just like you, I am so jealous.
 
But unlike you and unlike when I caddied, I am writing this sitting in First Class, enjoying Seared Pork Loin on real china with metal utensils. Life on this side of the ropes isnt THAT bad. OOOHHH, my merlot is here!
 
Any suggestions on places to go or things to do in Maui? Be nice!
 
Email your thoughts to Michael Collins
 
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.