ATLANTA — This was a very tricky Caddie Confidential to do because there are only 30 guys here at the Tour Championship and that’s a very small pool. That makes it tough to keep the caddie’s identity secret, but what continues to make me laugh about doing this is that the only people who try and figure out my sources on a regular basis are other tour caddies.
This week’s caddie and I get deep about money, switching bags and what a caddie should say after a water ball.
Collins: Let’s talk money. Not only is the last place money good this week, the FedEx Cup bonus money can be big time too! Do caddies get a taste of the bonus money?
Caddie: I don’t know that to be honest with you. It’s funny, that’s one thing you don’t really ask guys. Even though we’re close buddies, how much money did you get?
Collins: Like asking another caddie how much taxes did you pay?
Caddie: (laughing) Yeah. But obviously it’s become public lately, the guys that have won, like Snedeker, Horschel, and those guys who paid their caddies a million bucks. I don’t know how far down guys pay. I know there are a couple guys that have deals with their player, they get a piece of the FedEx money but, I don’t think there’s that many guys getting paid down the list. If you were to finish 25th on the (final FedEx Cup) list and the player makes, I don’t even know what they make $150-200 grand? I think nowadays if a guy finishes first, second, or third, I think you’re (the caddie) is getting a pretty good piece.
Collins: True. And if you finish 28th on the list you might not get a piece of that.
Caddie: No, but at the same time, I think most guys are getting like a one percent bonus at the end of the year.
Collins: Anyway, right.
Caddie: Yeah, so you’re getting a one percent bonus on this as well as what you made for the year. Everybody here (at the Tour Championship) obviously has had a good year and made some good money, so you’re getting a nice bonus check.
Collins: How shocked were the caddies when all the changes happened this year with Phil and Bones, Rory and J.P., and now Jason (Day) and Colin?
Caddie: I think very shocked. I mean we hadn’t had any changes in … Phil and Bones was a complete shock. I think all three of ’em! You don’t normally have a lot of big name guys switching. J Day and these guys have had their same caddies for a long time and all of the sudden we have three big names switch in two months? So yeah, I think there were a lot of guys that were shocked, including myself.
Collins: And with Phil, Rory, and Jason (Day) still uncommitted to a caddie next year, it must be strange in the caddie rooms wondering, “Is that guy gonna call and try for that bag?” It’s almost like high school!
Caddie: It is like high school! But you know what? If you want to get in the mix and start asking around, that’s fine, but nowadays guys are professional. Rory’s not gonna start talking. I don’t know what his deal is, he’s probably got a few guys in mind. He had 150 guys reach out to him.
Collins: Guys were sending their rèsumès!
Caddie: (laughs) His phone’s probably blowing up. He’s probably sick of it and he’s probably got two or three guys he’s thinking about, but it’s one of those things that if you wanna ask about it and find out information, you probably can. Who knows what’s true and what isn’t.
Collins: The hard thing for caddies, we are an extremely loyal bunch.
Collins: And in that sense, even if someone else becomes available we’re like (hemming and hawing), “This is my dude. I’m not leaving him.”
Caddie: And not only that, every guy here this week is a top 30 guy and you don’t really want your guy knowing you’re out sniffing around trying to get another bag!
Caddie: It’s just not, I mean at the end of the day a business is a business and I think that if you’re going to work for a Rory McIlroy, the guy is (28 years old) and the guy is one of the best players in the world. There’s not a lot of guys that can argue with it, but at the same time it’s hard to go about sniffing around. Because he’s no different (than anyone else). You call his agent and his agent is friends with somebody else and it gets back to you!
Caddie: There’s already been some grumblings about who’s sent him emails and who’s called. It’s tough. If you really want the job it’s hard.
Collins: We also all know that caddying is temporary. So how’s it gonna be if you leave your guy to go work for Rory and it doesn’t work out? You ain’t going back to your old boss! Players gonna be gun shy to hire you?
Caddie: I don’t think so if you get Rory. If you’re making “lateral” moves maybe. But if you’re going to work for a top-3 player in the world, there’s not too many times that opportunity comes up, so I think guys would understand that. At the end of the day they know it’s a business, caddies have families, and at the end of the day caddies wanna get up there and compete just as much as the players do ultimately. But everybody has got an ego out here and don’t you forget that.
Collins: That’s what I’m saying.
Collins: What’s the biggest perk for the caddie’s this week?
Caddie: Uh, probably just the paycheck. The hospitality is nice, it’s right in the clubhouse, so it’s easy. The parking’s good. But I think the best thing this week is knowing you’re gonna make a great check regardless of how your guy plays.
Collins: And this is another place where the caddies have their own locker room!
Caddie: Yeah … they always do a great job of taking care of (the caddies). Gary downstairs is great. I got no complaints about this. I don’t think anybody can complain about this week or you got problems.
Collins: True. Any caddie who whines about this week is like complaining about making it Kapalua.
Caddie: Exactly! This is very similar feel to Kapalua. Right? Thirty-35 guys, ya know?
Collins: Except this walk is much easier! And there are no shuttle rides on the course.
Caddie: Let me tell ya, this isn’t that easy of a walk. This is a pretty tough golf course to walk. Let me tell ya, there’s some good hills here. This is not a flat golf course. You got, let’s see, the “new” side (the first hole), yeah (No.) 1 is tough.
Collins: How about the par-5 sixth?
Caddie: Exactly. Nine’s a tough the par-3. I mean, there’s some good walks here.
Collins: So what hole this week is going to be the hardest one to caddie?
Caddie: I would say 14. The par-3 over the water. I mean that’s the hardest as far as caddying. You get on that back tee with some wind, I mean you’re hitting 5-6 iron there. That’s not that typical shot. This is a good golf course, so there’s a lot of tough holes. The key here is, the greens are so quick, that you have to be on the (correct) side of the hole. You gotta play smart golf.
Collins: Stay below the hole at all costs.
Caddie: These greens can get so fast. Let me tell you, you can be 10 feet above the hole putting down grain and you might wanna be 30 feet putting uphill putting into the grain. Because sometimes (downgrain) you got no putt.
Collins: I’m curious to know, on a hole like the par-3 14th if your player hits a shot in the water, what do you say to him? Or when do you say something to him?
Caddie: Well, it all depends on the guy right? My guy knows when he hits a bad shot. That’s fine. Let’s get up there and make a four. You got a 60-70 yard wedge shot, so you go up there and ya make a four. You’re gonna have a good chance at making four because of where the drop zone is, so close. And guys know it’s a tough hole. You play the back tee and you’re hitting a 5-iron to an island green. You gotta suck it up and hit a good shot. Everybody knows it’s a good hole where you gotta hit a good shot or you pay the penalty. There’s no bail out.