Good Times and Good Guys


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.
So this week Im gonna write a little about everything thats happened to me so far. Since I was approached to do this column last year I have to say, some weeks are much easier than others to write ' I didnt realize the impact it would have on people. Players, caddies, players wives, caddies girlfriends, volunteers, fans, and even PGA TOUR big wigs have read this.
Who knew?! I had no idea the amount of new friends and enemies you could make writing. I want to thank all of you for reading it, and even when you dont agree with what Ive written, most understand that its in fun. I think more than anything most of you have been surprised when I respond to your e-mails. I guess most real writers dont read and respond to their e-mail, something I learned since talking to some of the writers that follow the TOUR. I always figured I was being polite, but Ill tell yall this, people who hate me, REALLY hate me.
What has made me giggle the most about the angry people is they keep reading and writing me. That to me would be like getting milk out of the fridge, taking a sip, realizing its sour and has chunks in it, but putting it back in the fridge. I got bad news for ya: that milk is not gonna go good, but they just keep drinking.
This week the boys are in Memphis, which incidentally has one of the best practice tee cookouts all year, ribs (dry or wet!) from Rendezvous that are good enough for a caddie to miss a tee time. OK, player, too, but it was just a practice round. I wonder if this week well have a Sunday charge like Woody put on em last year? I mean Adam Scott did crash and burn, but still, Woody was impressive and I love it when a guy whos as nervous as a cat in a dog pound has a great round. Its almost like watching figure skating; were waiting for the fall but impressed when that 12-year-old Romanian girl lands the reverse triple toe loop with a decaf twist. There just isnt much better than watching someone who admits how freaked out they get when they know theyre near the top of the leaderboard, because at some point theyre either gonna snap or reel off four birdies in a row ' either way its entertaining. Unless youre caddying for the guy.
Speaking of caddies
Last week I had to print a retraction for a friend of mine and I want to tell you my best friend/broadcast/interview moment last year because it happened with/to this man.
Last year at The Honda Classic Chris P. Jones (caddie nickname Crispy) had a brain freeze on a par 3 on Friday and told another player what club his boss Mark Wilson had just hit. Mark called a two-stroke penalty on himself (going from a par to a double bogey) and continued on. You all know Mr. Wilson went on to win the tournament and into legend for sportsmanship and keeping this game at a level of honor that separates it from all others. What you probably dont know is what happened right after the round.
See as most caddies know, costing your player two strokes during a round is grounds for IMMEDIATE dismissal and in some cases, a caddie wouldnt make it through the round! Not Mark and Crispy, though. Mark had to console Crispy on the course and tell him, lets just finish this round strong. Well thats like a girl saying, We need to talk tonight. You know whats coming. But in this case they actually did finish strong and made the cut, but that was no consolation to Crispy, who I saw visibly upset and shaken on the practice green after the round.
Now as my friend I had to go to him to find out what was wrong and after he told me what happened I put my hands on his shoulders and told him, Listen, everything happens for a reason, you guys were loafin out there all day and it took this to get your focus right. You shot -66 after it happened so believe me when I tell you: Something special is happening.
I shook him, and made him look at me and said it again. Now, I have to go tell everyone on XM what happened, because I am an on-course reporter and they need to know. So I break the story on air Friday night before our broadcast is over. Friday night GOLF CHANNEL relays the story on TV with props to XM for breaking it (first time wed ever broken a story). Saturday morning NBC runs the story again, but I dont care about that; Im at the practice green looking for Crispy.
When I find him before he and Mark go play, we have another heart-to-heart. Hes feeling a little better now since he didnt get fired last night but still doesnt expect to work for Mark after the week is over. I just keep telling him, stop worrying, stay focused and let it happen on the course. Sunday morning, same thing. Now I didnt cover Mark in the playoff so when he won I was free to head back to the booth. I asked my producer if I could interview Crispy and he said thatd be cool. As I walked over Crispy saw me and a BIG man hug was exchanged. I told him I wanted to talk to him on air and as the tears started to well up in his eyes as he took the flag off the flagstick (thats the caddies trophy for a win, the flag from the final hole) and we started.
It was his first win as a caddie and to have it happen the way it did was just too much to handle. But hearing the emotion in his voice and the gratitude towards Mark for staying with him through the incident and then he thanked me (which I neither expected nor wanted on air) and now we were both crying and laughing at the same time. Ill admit it, when it comes to stuff like that I have a hard time being professional.
It was the third time Ive seen a caddie cry when their player was holding their emotions in check. The other two times were me. Shut up. Anyway, afterwards, I go back to the broadcast booth and three people were crying as the interview was being played on the air. The next week, a good friend of mine who works for the TOUR told me she was crying in her car driving as she was listening, then she slapped me and told me, dont ever do that to me again! Crispy and Mark got a flag from the course and both signed it for me. It hangs in my house with pride, just to remind me that no matter what else, sometimes the good guys do win!
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