“It’d be nice of you to hit a green in regulation today,” the caddie scowled. When Palmer chunked a chip shot, his man on the bag intoned, “We’re going to have a halftime speech here pretty soon.”
If those sound more like the sentiments of a football coach than a PGA Tour caddie, there’s good reason. Palmer’s looper this week is Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints.
“I take the opportunity very seriously in that this is how he makes a living,” said Payton, who has been friends with Palmer for the past five-plus years. “It’s interesting to be on the course and to watch these guys – the athletes, the consistency, the way they hit the ball. It’s pretty amazing. … It’s been a good start and I’ve enjoyed the first two days.”
This is a plan that all came together over the past few months. Palmer wanted to play the tournament, his caddie James Edmondson wanted to take the week off and their mutual friend Payton wanted to take a vacation at The Greenbrier.
What’s still unclear is whether the experience will be more fun for Payton or Palmer.
“It’s pretty cool to hear the mindset of one of the great coaches in the game, a Super Bowl-winning coach,” Palmer said. “It’s a lot of fun to hear. To have a coach like that is pretty cool.”
For a man so used to being in charge, Payton knows his role this week.
“Just to be invisible as a caddie and do your job and be supportive,” he said. “Those are the things that I look at as being important for me this week.”
Or as Palmer told him, “Just shut up and keep up. That’s it.”