Where would Phil Mickelson be without his Mackay? Or Tiger without his Steve Williams?
We all know how vital a caddie is in making or breaking not only a golfer’s game but arguably even his career. But while most of us know that the caddie is important, a lot of us pay more attention to the golfer. That’s why Caddyboo decided to sit down with Mark**, a long-term caddie in the French professional tour and asked him to give us (and you!) an exclusive tour of his world.
Q1: For how long have you been a caddie?
A1: I started when I was younger, as a part-time caddie in some competitions. I’d say I participated in about 10 competitions.
Q2: Why did you decide to become a caddie?
A2: A lot of it was thanks to my knowledge of the golf course. I knew every inch of the course, and so I could advise players really well what to do next based on the distance they had to cover. I also really wanted to see professionals do what they do best and appreciate premium golf.
Q3: Describe a typical day on the field for a caddie.
A3: After arriving on the course, I would usually meet with the player, go over the course and the holes. I’d then give them a quick briefing, then we’d go on the range and prepare to compete.
Usually, I'd assist players for 2-3 days since I mostly worked during the French professional tour. Since it was mostly a national division for French players, the division wasn’t that big. I’m not complaining, though - I assisted the likes of Garialde, Mörk, and Jacquelin!
Q4: What are some of the most challenging things about being a caddie?
A4: As much as you want to give your golfers the best advice, it’s obviously not very easy. You have to be sharp, give accurate measurements to the hole, and not allow any space for gambling. On top of having to give the correct information, I think it’s very important for a caddie to establish a good relationship with their golfer. You have to make them feel like they’re in good hands and create a safe atmosphere of trust.
Q5: What are some of the most gratifying things about being a caddie?
A5: You get to experience firsthand how some of the most talented golfers perfect their playing technique, and the logic behind it. Though many assume I’m the one giving the golfer tips and tricks, the amount of knowledge I get from them is incredible. I learn something new every game, and sometimes, some of the players have even let me use their equipment to let me try out some of the things they taught me!
Q6: Tell us something about being a caddie that most people would be surprised to learn
A6: There’s a lot of emotion involved, and you have to learn to control it. Sometimes, the golfer can find himself in a situation where they’re overly-confident or are aiming for an overly-aggressive putt. Caddies play a huge role in calming their golfers down.
Q7: What is, in your opinion, the biggest misconception about being a caddie?
A7: I think many people assume some type of power imbalance with the caddie “serving” his golfer. In reality, it’s more of a partnership and team effort. I have to admit, that’s something I also didn’t know in the beginning. I was pleasantly surprised. Also, many people might think being a caddie makes me think of golf 24/7 and affects my life outside the golf course, but that’s not really the case.
Q8: How much effort do you think it takes to be a caddie? More or less than to be a golfer?
A8: I think that a lot of effort comes with being a caddie because you need to be alert and at the right place at the right time constantly. For example, every time I have to use a golf ball cleaner or have to wipe the clubs, I’m very careful not to be late. It’s a bit stressful because you have two people to think about: yourself and the golfer, whereas the golfer just has to bear the stress of winning the game. However, that alone is also a pretty big responsibility.
Q9: What was the hardest lesson you learned while supporting other players?
A9: Empathy, empathy, and empathy That’s the most important lesson. It’s very important for a caddie to be able to read and relate to the player he’s supporting.
The hardest lesson I learned might be the fact that being on the course is extremely competitive. Sometimes, you have to be ruthless to bring out the results you want.
Q10: What did most people think of you becoming a caddie?
A10: I can’t say I know exactly what people thought, but most feedback I got was positive. People admired my closeness to the golf player and the effect I had on them. The networking I got out of it was also valued; many people would ask me about the golfers and whether they could be introduced to them. It was generally a very positive experience.
Q11: Lastly, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a caddie?
A11: Always prioritize your health - you might not be the golfer, but you’re still going to be carrying a rather heavy bag filled with golf essentials like clubs, balls, and golf towels for kilometres at a time! Also, patience is key. It’s not easy being on the course, but it’s worth it. Focus on adapting your player profile, and take your time with it. Some golf players prefer caddies that are more active than others, while some prefer more strategic caddies who don't make as many comments. Some caddies are also more commanding, so it very much depends on the caddie-player relationship, and you have to be flexible with regards to that. Otherwise, I’d say enjoy it as much as you can. It’s always a great laugh and some of the best memories of my life are from my time as a caddie.
**Name was edited for privacy reasons and in order to protect the anonymity of the interviewee