I had to wake up my 19-month-old boy (who really likes to sleep) at 4:45 a.m. to take Daddy to the airport. His mom didnt really like me before this morning; now ... anybody know where I can get a good bullet proof vest?
All this to go to Canada, a country with a history of giving caddies a tough time just to get in. Every year at least three caddies get denied entry. The last time I tried to leave Toronto, Canadian customs asked me if I had been arrested while in Canada. No, How was your stay? No, Did you enjoy our Tim Hortons coffee (it is better than Dunkin Donuts, sorry)? Just a couple of taps on a keyboard and the guy looks up and says, Have you been arrested?
Huh? Man, its 6 in the morning; I havent had my coffee and the dude Im caddying for just missed the cut by 12. No. (pause) Are you messing with me?
No, Mr. Collins. Have a nice flight home.
What the ? Thank you, Captain Paranoia, I wont be needing my coffee this morning, wheres the bathroom? All Im thinking about is Enemy of the State with Will Smith and Gene Hackman (I watch way too many movies).
Dont get me wrong, one of my coolest experiences happened in Canada, too. Playing the Canadian Open in Vancouver the week before the old 84 Lumber Classic, Omar Uresti told me we were playing in the Monday pro-am at the 84. I said, Youre playing in the Monday pro-am. Im flying on a red eye that makes three connections and doesnt get to Pittsburgh (2 hours drive away from the course) until noon.
O and a few other players figure out their caddie dilemma, make a phone call, and presto ' private G5 jet just for caddies! The players and families are on a private 767 and the caddies get a fully stocked (free food and drinks) and staffed (yes, the flight attendant was a very attractive girl) little jet. There were six caddies on that flight. I dont remember too much from it other than playing cards and sleeping. But I do remember the airport: no check in lines and no funny customs officers (Im still paranoid).
Now here I sit reminiscing.
Ive been asked what its like to pull a player off a club. The first time is horrible, because you know if youre wrong its like lying to a girlfriend. If you get caught, you never recover.
My first time was for Chris Couch at a Nike Tour (now Nationwide Tour) event in Florida. Were playing a par 4. After a perfect tee shot, he had a 9-iron in hand and started to step in to the shot and I said, Hold on pro. Now he backs off and gives me a look like, this better be good. I calmly told him to look at the trees around us, watch how hard the wind was helping us, how when the ball gets above the tree line its gonna go hard. Gotta hit PW here. He says, OK, takes the pitching wedge and starts going through his pre-shot routine. Remember how I said I calmly told him... well that calm has left the building, I need a Port-A-John bad!
Theres a bunker short of the green and the hole is tucked, so if this shot comes up short its a guaranteed bogey. My knees buckle as the ball comes off the club face and I watch it sail up into the sky. Now your instinct is to start screaming, GET UP!!! PLEEEEEEEEEASE FOR THE LOVE OF JOSE! But that wouldnt be cool and I am cool.
The ball carries the bunker, one hops and spins back to 6 inches! Couch turns to me and says, Good call pro. Yep is all I could get out cause I was still having a tough time breathing.
Anytime a caddie pulls a player off a shot, its because we want to be sure our player has gone over every option. If they take our advice and make a bogey or double its because they didnt hit it right.
What are you laughing at? Im the one sitting in the Atlanta airport for three more hours when I couldve been back in Pennsylvania playing golf at the Coatesville Country Club with Rob from the Philadelphia Phillies and Jose, my best friend, while Major (my 19-month-old) putts and chips. No, Mr. Cool and Glamorous is somehow gonna get to Canada with an open shoulder and a dream.
Anybody know where I can get a good passport picture?
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 Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
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