Here at GolfChannel.com we like to celebrate every holiday, no matter how big or small. With Wednesday being national Best Friends Day, we thought it would be appropriate to take a closer look at the faithful caddie.
While the constant accolades and recognition go the guys whose names litter the leaderboards week in and week out, when it comes to nicknames, it doesn’t get any better than their friend carrying the bag. Not sure if this is a coincidence or if nicknames just somehow lend themselves easier to men who carry another man’s luggage for a living, the way bacon and cheese lend themselves to … well, everything.
Either way, take some notes TO, AI, CP3, DWade, D12, KG, MJD, RGIII and what seems like every other professional athlete from the last 15 years. Some combination of your initials and jersey number is not a nickname, it’s just lame.
Here are some of the all-time best nicknames on the PGA Tour belonging to the stars’ better halves.
Jim “Bones” MacKay – Phil Mickelson’s go-to guy on the bag for over 15 years. Lefty and Bones have been through all the highs and lows as a team, including all four of Phil’s major championship victories, and all of his major championship near misses. Fred Couples unintentionally dubbed MacKay “Bones” when he couldn’t remember his name and was trying to get the tall, skinny kid's attention during his first year as a caddie.
Mike “Fluff” Cowen – Has worked with Jim Furyk since 1999 and Tiger Woods for three years before that. Fellow caddies gave him the nickname Fluff for his resemblance to former pro golfer and broadcaster Steve Melnyk, who was also know by that name. Although one could argue the name fits his ever-present white mustache perfectly.
Steve "Asbestos" Duplantis – Respected as one of the best caddies during his time on Tour working with big names such as Jim Furyk, Rich Beem and Tommy Armour III. As much as he was respected on the course he was known more for his nightlife exploits off it. He earned the name “Asbestos” because others joked that he was fireproof – as in, he couldn’t be fired – even though he was constantly late, due in large part to his partying the night before. Duplantis died tragically in 2008 when he stepped off a curb in front of an oncoming taxi.
Ron “Bambi” Levin – Caddied for legends such as Jack Nicklaus and up-and-comers like Anthony Kim. Also was on the bag for Todd Hamilton’s improbable playoff victory over Ernie Els at the 2004 British Open. (I have a feeling The Big Easy got over that loss recently.) Levin was christened “Bambi” early on in his career, looking like a babe in the woods, as a 17-year-old first-time caddie.
Carl “Skillet” Jackson – Ordained in Augusta National lore, the legendary looper has caddied 51 Masters, and has been on Ben Crenshaw’s bag for the tournament since 1976, helping him win the green jacket twice, in 1984 and 1995. He earned the nickname “Skillet” as a kid since as a joke others said he couldn’t throw a baseball hard enough to break an egg. He beat colon cancer in 2000, (only time he has missed The Masters since 1961) and claims to be the first black guest to play Augusta in 1988.
“Last Call” Lance Ten Broeck – Has caddied for several notable players such as Robert Allenby and Jesper Parnevik, and has been known to caddie and play in the same tournament. The nickname is pretty self explanatory and he apparently has no problem living up to it. At the 2009 Valero Texas Open he played and caddied in the same tournament, beating his boss Parnevik by two strokes, (although they both missed the cut) preparing for the tournament with eight happy-hour special orders of a 22-ounce beer and a jug of saki for $6.50.
Jeff “Squeeky” Medlen – Famously played a large role during John Daly's 1991 PGA Championship victory, caddying for an alternate who had never seen the course. Also carried Nick Price's bag to victory in two PGA Championships and a British Open. The man who's nickname derived from his high-pitched voice unfortunately passed away in 1997 after a battle with chronic myelogenus leukemia.
Steven “Pepsi” Hale – Was on Keegan Bradley’s bag when he burst onto the scene in 2011, winning a major in his first try at the PGA Championship. The name “Pepsi” was born on the Nationwide Tour where he started the habit of placing cans of his favorite soda around the course before a round so he could pick them up as his group went through later in the day, simply because he didn’t like to carry them. The ritual stuck with him as he moved up to the big leagues and the nickname came right along with it.
Basil “Thirsty” Van Rooyen – The South African was most recently hired by the No. 1 women’s golfer in the world in Yani Tseng, but has collected 50 career wins all over the world working with the likes of Mark McNulty, Graham DeLaet, Mark James, David Frost, and John Daly. Van Rooyen’s “thirst” is said to be that of the adult variety, and after a hard day on the links carrying someones bag and only being publicly noticed if something goes wrong , who could blame him?
This admittedly is a very small sample size. There's hundreds more loopers out there who go by a singular name instead of the standard first and last that we have all become accustomed to. If you can drag yourself away from your Best Friend Day celebrations, feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below.
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