It would be helpful if the clucking protagonists, this time, overly zealous boyish caddies on Twitter, understood the difference between a statement and a question. One states, one asks.
I asked: ‘will players adjust the salaries and %’s of the caddies now the role has become easier? They have morphed from being hunter gatherers of information to merely ‘presenters’ of information’’
This question produced a reaction, 120,000 impressions no less and some from the aforementioned caddies.
For me, the role of the caddy until recently has been completely undervalued. The good ones are indispensable as performance wingmen.
I myself have had some experience at caddying.
I’ve caddied in Major Championships, European Tour / Challenge Tour events, European Tour Q schools, PGA Tour Q schools, Web.com events, Junior World Championships and a harrowing loss in the Sunningdale Foursomes matchplay final.
If in any doubt of the importance I place on the caddy role, I refer you to a Periscope event I recorded two years ago:
Caddying is less about the numbers and more about the narrative about the numbers.
So, in an act of charity, I’ll answer my own question…’just why would the role be easier?’
Answer One – Objective vs Subjective Information
Poor old Tom Fazio, walking the grounds of a new course at his age with his notebook and pencil at the ready. Ready to do what?
To sketch the very illusions that queer a golfer’s eyes and muddy their judgement.
Golf courses, the good ones, are a clever cocktail of perspective alterations created by earth shaping, trap sizes and subtle elevations. Add in a little wind and mischievous late afternoon shading (such as the 12th at Augusta) and you have just some of the ingredients that incite doubt when standing about 160 yards out.
External illusionary factors like these point to why the most adeptly trained pilots are instrument rated.
With potential visual and meteoric distractions, the planes instruments provide the pilot with hard, irrefutable and objective facts about the outdoors. The doubt is removed, functionality ushered in.
Some yardages in golf don’t even involve the flag. Sometimes you’re just trying to cover a bunker, other times laying up to a comfortable number. Firm and soft greens have different pitch and run out numbers; taking fronts and backs out of play……what about an Open Championship trundling the ball in from 20 yards short of the green. In these cases, the stock pin number is NOT the priority.
But you can still zap traps, trees, humps, dog leg run outs, hazards and elevated pins. Yes, you can objectively acquire these numbers with no doubt, no second guess and no fuss.
The numbers don’t lie and the design, the optical effect the designer tried to achieve….snuffed out.
And then we have the human element, the caddy without a rangefinder.
No matter how deft your man or woman (Fanny or Janet) can pace a yard, no matter they have 20 20 vision and no matter what penciled scribbles bestows the yardage book, the situation is still without total insurance against mistake.
If the caddy, minus range finders are so accurate……why do some players insist on doing their yardages themselves?
This is the difference between Objective and Subjective information.
Hu – the Human Element.
Answer Two – An Incredible Stance to Take.
Two caddies plucked up when my question hit the Twitter waves. One of them was Ian Finnis, Tommy Fleetwood’s long time / term caddy. I’m a huge fan of Fleetwood, he carries himself extremely well, I love his technique and I believe he and I share an interest in Eastern philosophy.
Finnis and Fleetwood have the kind of rapport normally found in the dual cockpit of a fast jet fighter. Finnis is obviously a first-rate caddy that:
- Knows how to accumulate the relevant numbers correctly and rapidly.
- Knows how to verbally present this information with confidence in his tonality.
- Knows how to dialogue when the player is in two minds and doubtful.
- Knows how to verbally sign off and pull the bag away.
Now these are not insignificant skills. These are the skills of a top negotiator and communicator. The points above don’t even touch upon resuscitating his man from a bad run or keeping performance momentum in place.
But essentially, none of the above can happen unless the first part of the process is delivered correctly.
If you can’t do the numbers……flick the first domino; you don’t get the job.
I’m shit with numbers. I can do them……but for someone so visual and imaginative, it doesn’t come easy. I’d never make a top caddy because for me, stage one is like shoveling shit uphill.
But, I’m a damn good reader of players, have a proven wealth of knowledge in peak performance practices and am an expert in regard to all facets of golf technique.
If you hand me a range finder….it immediately elevates my value to a top player on a comparative level to Finnis or any other caddy for that matter.
My advice to caddies is not to scoff and mock range finder deniers but to support them.
There are many average caddies out on tour waiting to eat your lunch; if they get a device in their hands it gives them the one superpower they might lack, number accumulation.
The waiting room to get a top players bag has just become very crowded.
If I were a top caddy, I’d be vehemently against range finders in competitive play. I’d want to protect my intellectual property.
Answer Three – Ask why…..
I’m not convinced that the main reason for the introduction of range finder usage is entirely about flow and keeping pace of play.
My estimation is the ever-accelerating reality of in game golf gambling is demanding / or will demand an interaction from the players.
It is my contention that at some point, the PGA Tour will mandate that range finders have to be used.
Because once the ‘pin number’ has been recorded, it can immediately be sent, via the range finder to the gambling Co’s algorithm software to set the odds for a player’s shot success.
Is this so farfetched? Well no.
We already know that deals have been done with Shot Link data and IMG…
Stats, relative to distance and the players abilities are hugely significant – in fact they’re practically Siamese twins.
Answers one and two above whole heartedly support the roles of top caddies who have taken years to hone their craft.
As far as answer three goes; I don’t like it, but it could be the savior of golf viewership once Tiger Woods exits stage left.
Nick – Nick@BradleyPerformanceGroup.com