Recalling Tough Times

By Michael CollinsSeptember 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
After seeing my friends caddie at the Ryder Cup and celebrate on the 17th green, so much reminiscing went on about the journey to the top of the caddie hill.
Fred Sanders kept talking about how he never stopped getting chills all over his body after every shot.
John Wood, Hunter Mahans caddie, couldnt stop smiling and saying it was the best experience hes ever had as a caddie. And even more importantly, he now knows these guys are even better than he thought before. Because they not only hit amazing shots, but they did it after waving the crowd on.
And as we know most famous last words come after the saying, Hey yall... watch this. Yet time and time again, we watched Anthony Kim, Boo Weekley,
and even Phil Mickelson say, If you thought THAT was cool, check THIS
As the night wore I turned introverted, if you can believe it, and thought of my jealousy from my own trip through caddie darkness. I only say jealousy because I have yet to taste victory of the Masters, or the Ryder Cup, as a caddie and now I want it even more.
I do remember the bottom. Nothing is worse for a caddie than believing in your player and having them not believe in themselves.
Years ago on the Nationwide Tour I remember missing the cut and sitting on the grass of the driving range having a heart to heart with my friend and pro. He told me he didnt have enough money to play the year out and was going to have to go get a job. He had a family at home, bills to pay and was catching nothing but bad breaks on the golf course.
It was the most honest moment I had ever seen from a pro. To stand naked ' figuratively speaking ' in front of a mirror and say, Im unsure. It takes more stones than many people have.
Tears were shed by both caddie and player that afternoon in Virginia Beach, as caddie said, Youre a golfer, not a salesman, not a teacher, not a garbage truck driver. And Im your caddie. No ifs, ands, or buts. Well find a way. I believe in you. I just need you to believe in you.
He didnt even have to answer, being able to look me in the eyes with tears in his, I knew. I didnt have to caddie for free because a friend of his loaned him enough money to keep him going for a bit, and it turns out he didnt even need all of it. Won later that year, and slowly but surely made his way to the PGA TOUR where he won, too. Of course, I got fired way before the win, but thats the nature of the business, and were still very good friends to this day.
Its even harder to get a guy out of a funk that decides hes done mentally for the day. Caddying in Tucson one year, my knucklehead is 3-under through 10 on Friday and inside the cut number easy. But after making a bogey on the 11th he mentally shuts it down. Not a bad drive on 12, not long but in the middle of the fairway. Its easy to see, hes walking with his chin on his chest 25 yards behind the sign boy. Shoulders slumped in the 'poor me' position, we were clearly on the path to a missed cut instead of a top 10.
Drastic measures were needed. I whistle to him and waive him to come on. Chin back on chest. Well if that didnt work...OK, you asked for it. So with 200 people following along outside the ropes, the two guys playing with us, their caddies, the walking scorer, and the sign boy all walking ahead of us, I loudly drop the bag and as they all turn around to see whats going on, I basically throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the fairway.
Stomping my feet up and down, flailing my arms to the side, sticking my bottom lip out. Five seconds of this and even he had stopped walking and was looking at me like I was nuts. I stopped and looked at him, What, you gonna cry when you get in the car? An infamous line from the movie Friday that I know he knew. Now get your ass up here and lets go!
A quick sheepish smile and the message got home. Birdied that hole and finish the weekend tie for 12th. Pardon me while I pat myself on the back... uh wait... he fired me, too, a year later.
Cest la vie, I wouldnt change a thing for a second, I can see the top of the mountain, just gotta keep walking.
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 Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL. He also has his own Web site,
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