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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    Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

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

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

    Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

    Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

    Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

    Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


    FALLING

    Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

    Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

    Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

    Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

    Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.