Click Here!Great Golf Instruction for the Beginner

                                                                                        Yep, That’s Me
My New Golf Book
                                                                                       
Dear Family and Friends,

Many of you may not know it, but I have been very busy over the last 2 years putting my thoughts and ideas together in a book. I am very proud of the results and to assist with the marketing, I am asking friends and family to help me out. I believe my new book on GOLFgives the reader valuable playing tips and insider information that I have gained through my years of struggle and  experience. The cost is only $29.95 and can be ordered by simply replying to this email with the appropriate credit card info.

 Check one: ___ VISA___Mastercard___Amer. Exp.___Discover

                                                                                                                           Murph and Me 

                                                                                                                         

My New Golf Book (Just Kidding)

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1 - How to Properly Line Up Your Fourth Putt

Chapter 2 - How to Hit a Nike from the Rough When You Hit a Titleist from
the Tee

Chapter 3 - How to Avoid the Water When You Lie 8 in a Bunker

Chapter 4 - How to Get More Distance Off the Shank

Chapter 5 - When to Give the Ranger the Finger

Chapter 6 - Using Your Shadow on the Greens to Maximize Earnings
Chapter 7 - When to Implement Handicap Management

Chapter 8 - Proper Excuses for Drinking Beer Before 9:00 a.m.

Chapter 9 - How to Rationalize a 6 Hour Round

Chapter 10 - How to Find That Ball That Everyone Else Saw Go in the Water

Chapter 11 - Why Your Spouse Doesn’t Care That You Birdied the 5th…

Chapter 12 - How to Let a Foursome Play Through Your Twosome

Chapter 13 - How to Relax When You Are Hitting Three Off the Tee

Chapter 14 - When to Suggest Major Swing Corrections to Your Opponent

Chapter 15 - God and the Meaning of the Birdie-to-Bogey Three Putt

Chapter 16 - When to Regrip Your Ball Retriever

Chapter 17 - Can You Purchase a Better Golf Game?

Chapter 18 - Why Male Golfers Will Pay $5.00 a Beer - From The Cart Girl
and Give Her a $3 Tip, But Will Balk at $3.50 at the 19th Hole and Stiff
the Bartender.                                                                                                                  

Don’t wait until they’re all gone!!!!       Just kidding, but it does look interesting!!!!!!!!

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My First Year On Tour - 1988
1988 was a blur, both physically and emotionally. I was escaping from a bit of misery, learning a new occupation, and trying to establish relationships with folks who didn’t want to be bothered with a new kid on the block. The grizzled veterans scoffed at my exuberance and didn’t want some veteran caddy’s brother tugging at their pant legs talking about golf. They had seen it all, done it all, when caddies had it tough. A naive newcomer wasn’t welcomed in the ranks. These guys remembered days “professional caddies” weren’t allowed to work certain tournaments, when there were signs announcing, “public welcome, no caddies allowed.
They called me “Stint” early and often. I’m not sure who pinned the title, but it wasn’t an honorable tag. Usually the veterans coined the label, and if it came from Bruce Edwards it was special. I think Dolph (Stadler), Boo (Maltbie), or the Growler penned mine. Story goes there was bet on how long I’d last, or they all were hoping I’d only be around for a short stint. They didn’t go out of their of way to help, but they weren’t abusive either. I think I was a slight amusement back then without realizing it.
I traveled in a fog, lost my car the second week on tour, and relied other’s kindness for quite awhile. After that first week in Coral Springs my Toyota broke down, I couldn’t afford the repairs (it was later repossessed), so I was at the mercy of uncharitable people. You’re taught early out here you have to take care of number one first, and most of these guys had learned their lesson well.
My skin wasn’t that tough and the cold shoulders were difficult to take, so I quieted down and went about my business surviving. Back then you could live on the road for $300 to $400 a week if you cut corners, hit the Happy Hour specials, shacked up with friends or piled a bunch of caddies in tight spaces. I’d been used to my space for a long time, loved others company, but not on a 24 hour basis. Four caddies in a Mom & Pop motel room or six to eight boys in a two bedroom condo stirs the blood a bit much.
I saw a lot of good friends(?) become arch enemies during the week, and guys can get pretty possessive at times, especially with food and sleeping space. There was a definite pecking order and specific rules you had to follow if peace was to be maintained. I was new, got the last bed available if I was lucky, and had no idea where I was heading from week to week.

These guys had been out here for years and had their “digs” mapped out for each tournament stop. “Alaskan Dave” was the best. He knew the little, cheap, clean spots, and eventually started sharing them with me. There’s nothing better than that spacious motor lodge room where you can back the car up to the door and unload. The place was usually off the beaten path, not many other caddies knew about it, both were fine with me.

After getting the check from Blackmar Sunday, I asked if he needed me down the road. He politely said he was set up for awhile, but I noticed there was a different guy on his bag each week. I guess my caddy skills weren’t that impressive. If you don’t have a job you still had to travel with the tour and be ready every Monday, at the latest Tuesday morning, for an “open bag”. I’d started during a difficult job hunting time because the next few weeks would be Invitational tournaments and the “open bag” would be scarce.

Luckily, the Florida swing provided a lot of sun and some short trips. I, or my brother, was able to line up a ride each Sunday. “Reptile” and “Philly Billy” escorted me from Coral Springs to Orlando and on to Ponte Vedra. I had to pair down my Toyota’s load and get it to the acceptable “hitch hiker’s” capacity. When they first picked me up, the laughter was overwhelming.

“You expect to travel the tour with all this crap,” they spouted. I had a lot to learn about everything, this life was so different. The next two weeks they pared down my belongings to bare necessities and taught me a few things about traveling “caddy style”. Basically, everything needed to fit in one large duffel bag, a small shoulder bag, and a briefcase of some sort. A well-traveled caddy could shower, pack a room, and be ready to go in 15 minutes if necessary. The talent came in handy after a late Saturday night and early Sunday tee time, or a missed cut Friday and someone had a good road trip in mind.

Well, they dropped me off at the Quality Inn parking lot on Sand Lake Road Monday morning and told me Bay Hill was down the road, take a left at the dead end, and follow the signs. Thanks for ride guys and the directions, that’s all that was promised and all I got. I think the ride, directions, and packing lessons cost $5 and a cold six pack. 

My brother was supposed to be checked in, wasn’t, so I had to fend for myself. The clerk allowed me to stash my stuff and another caddy offered me a ride to the course. If your at the “caddy motel” for the week you could always find a ride for a buck or two, but you had to be ready to go on the driver’s time, or willing to hang in the lobby or parking lot at least an hour before your scheduled departure. There were many a times you’d see that late caddy rushing from his room, trying to catch a ride, and having to hail a cab at the last minute. Scheduling was everything if you didn’t have your own car or dedicated travel companion.

Mondays at a tournament are for jobless caddies, an occasional pro-am, volunteers helping set up, TV personnel constructing camera stands, and tournament directors tying up loose ends. You’ll also find the tour officials in their trailer and a few pros scattered about the practice area. The number of pros on the range is directly correlated with the travel time from the last tournament, and the importance of the present tournament. Bay Hill is Arnold’s Invitational, the drive wasn’t long, so the practice tee was a bit crowded.

I wasn’t caddy confident by any means, still didn’t know how to line up a job, but kind of knew how to act like a caddy. My first stop was the practice tee and green, trying to surmise who might need a caddy for the week. The difficulty was trying to roam around without my mouth agape. I was still in awe of my surroundings, and needed to get over that if I was going to get a job. You had to exude a quiet air of confidence, but that would only come with experience, and right now I was very green.

My baseball skills had some relevance, and eventually the pressure packed situations on the mound helped me when we were coming down the stretch with a chance to win. Right now, I was intimidated, scared, and very unsure of myself. Walking around all I could picture was rejection if I asked someone for a job, plus I wasn’t sure who needed a caddy and who didn’t. It was a major faus paux to ask a player for work if he had a steady caddy. The trick was to find out who bounced around, switched caddies often, or who’d just fired their looper.

The week before I’d noticed a few guys looking for work stroll into the tour officials, spend a few minutes talking with them, and then reappear with a sheet of paper. This single sheet was invaluable and I didn’t see anyone sharing information; only perusing the copy, crossing off names, and making some notes. At the Honda I didn’t need this information, but this week I thought, “monkey see, monkey do”.

The tour officials were unfamiliar, but friendly, and luckily, after explaining my jobless plight they knew exactly why I was there because I sure didn’t know what the hell I was doing. They handed me the updated Hertz Bay Hill Classic tournament commit list and sent me back to the parking lot. The meeting was short, sweet, and definitely eye-opening. A note to self, “get to know these boys, and stay on their good side”.

This list contained every player’s name who planned to play, and the alternates in case someone withdrew. An experienced caddy could quickly whittle this list down and extract necessary job search info. In about five minutes they would know who had withdrawn, or may be withdrawing; which player needed a caddy or had just fired theirs; what caddies might not be showing up or were on the verge of losing their jobs; and, use all this info for a successful job search. If they didn’t land a job that week it was very helpful down the road, a seasoned unemployed caddy was always laying the groundwork for a future job.

Many things I needed to learn, I just looked at the list with a blank stare and quietly cried help, but I was on my own. Looking around the parking lot there were quite a few caddies, similar plights, and no one was offering any sympathy, guidance, or compassion. It was a tough crowd and I was getting tossed about, hopefully something would work out.

Late Tuesday afternoon, after hanging out in the parking lot all day and roaming the course, there wasn’t a job available for a greenhorn. A couple of veterans picked up an alternate or two, and I think a few foreigners showed up without caddies, so a few guys got lucky. The guys without jobs were talking about working the pro-am, checking with CBS for work, or maybe heading to some local courses who were tour caddy friendly.

During my twenty years I never had to resort to the last option, but the first two came in handy when there wasn’t much money in my pocket, or I was bored and just needed work to keep me out of trouble. This week was the first of many that the pro-am and network television would cover my expenses. You didn’t need a lot of experience for either job, but you could lucky and make a good check in the pro-am if you hooked up with a “fat cat”.

Every tournament, except majors, has a Wednesday pro-am. They’re designed to entertain corporate sponsors, tournament friends, celebrities, and they raise a bunch of money for the tournament charities. Back then it probably cost $1,500-$2,000 for a chance to play with one of the top tour players. The only charity I was concerned about was the Mark Huber Benevolent Caddy Foundation at that time, and I was wondering how to line up one of those “fat cats”.

There wasn’t a tried and true method, sometimes it was luck, but a few guys new certain amateurs who played many pro-ams and forked over a nice tip after the round. I was up early, standing in the Quality Inn parking lot waiting for a ride, and got to the course before sunrise. If I was lucky, maybe I could get a loop in the morning and afternoon, doubling my coiffures.

A lot of locals were hanging at the caddy tent, and I didn’t see many freindly faces. I signed up, asked the caddy master a few questions which gathered a couple of grumbles, grabbed a cup of coffee and a donut, and waited my turn. I was quite aways down the list, and learned that guys had been signing up all week, plus the caddy master’s friends and local caddies got priority over a “tour caddy”. A lot of times we were treated like fourth class citizens, it was tough to take quietly.

Finally, my turn came up and I was hooked with a young corporate exec. He wasn’t a golfer, and wasn’t quite sure about a lot of things, especially when it came time to pay the caddy. We spent a lot of the round looking for wayward tee shots, and I tried everything in my power to create some fun, but it was a general disaster.

We exchanged pleasantries as we were putting up the bag, and he started to walk off. I stopped him, explained the caddy fee structure, and he looked very surprised that I expected money for my efforts. It was his understanding that everything was taken care of and that he didn’t owe me a thing. The discussion became a bit heated when I realized he was sincere, and there may be no cash for my efforts. Like I said, fourth class citizens don’t garner much respect, and I was getting nowhere with this corporate snob, so I left him with one final comment. “Apparently, you need the money more than I do, thanks for opportunity to carry your bag, have a nice day,” and I walked away.

Mom told me never to speak when I’m angry, so I zipped it, walked to the caddy tent, and tried to explain things to the caddy master. He was preparing for the afternoon wave, had no time for me, so I went away broke, but had a wry smile when I thought about how I’d handled the freeloader. To me, it was an establishment rebuke, but it the grand scheme of things it was just another caddy getting stiffed. It happens all the time from the pro-am hacker to the seasoned pro, especially some of the old timers.

The quick lesson was make your deal up front, know what you’re getting into, and don’t pick up a bag until you know what they’re paying you. I’ve been stiffed by a few over the years and each time I let them know in no uncertain terms the gratuity wasn’t acceptable. Each time I got a “so what” look from the golfer, and from the corporate CEO to the PGA veteran to the Wednesday hack, they could care less about the caddy. Granted they were a minority, but there manner definitely left a mark on me.

Expecting $50-$75 for that morning loop, and with no chance for an afternoon bag, I was looking pretty destitute. There was a motel tab to pay and I needed to eat the rest of the week, but I didn’t want to break into my stash the second week on the road. My last chance for some cash was CBS, they hired spotters for the weekend telecast.

Before Golf Channel and ESPN the major networks televised most every tournament, and they needed a major support crew for their camera operators, announcers, scorers, and graphics personnel. Unemployed caddies were a knowledgeable source of workers, and we in turn were very grateful for the $50-$75 a day and the wonderful lunch they provided. I wasn’t sure how to acquire this job, just knew it existed.

The TV compound was set up between fifteen fairway and sixteen tee box so I strolled over there Wednesday afternoon after I’d cooled down. I wasn’t sure who to look for or where to go, just roaming around the compound was a neat experience. Lowly caddy backstage at a PGA Tour event, if the boys in the Stag could see me now. Well it wasn’t quite that cool, but there were some important people walking around, and for some reason I felt like part of the scene.

There were quite a few people mingling outside a trailer, I walked over, and somebody said, “Chuck’s inside, go on in.”

“Chuck who?”, I snapped back.

“Chuck Will, aren’t you a caddy looking for work?” came the retort.

“Yeh, how could you tell?” A few laughed but I wasn’t quite sure exactly why. Thinking about it that night, I realized, even though I was new, all caddies had a distinct look, feel about them. The folks working with, and around the tour, could spot us coming. You tried to cover it up sometimes, but eventually you thought, “&%^$ it, I’m a caddy, a good person, take me or leave me, I don’t care.”

Well, I walked in the door, glanced around the room, and noticed this frail, middle-aged, chain-smoking guy barking orders into the phone and working frantically on some paperwork. The receptionist asked if I was a caddy looking for spotter work, I nodded, and she told me to wait a bit until Chuck got off the phone. It was more than a bit and I started getting uncomfortable. This frail old guy had quite the vocabulary and didn’t seem to be very nice. He was constantly yelling something at someone with a lot of fucks thrown around.

I spent a lot of time in baseball dugouts and bullpens, and Chuck’s language would’ve fit comfortably. After about twenty minutes or so, he peered over his nose and cheap reader glasses. Every where in the office there were signs that read, Chuck this and Chuck that. There was Chuck’s desk sign, a Chuck’s ashtray sign, a Chuck’s pencil label, and so on. You knew right away this was Chuck Will’s domain and I felt like I was just about to incur the wrath of OZ, but there was no smoke and fire shooting out anyplace.

A diatribe erupted about everything going on, he wanted to know my life history, and then demanded to know why I hadn’t stopped by earlier in the week, “You know it’s Wednesday afternoon, and I’ve done all the hiring I’m gonna do this week!”

I tried not to stutter, explained my plight, and then spent the better part of an hour listening to Chuck Will stories (there’ll be a few of these during the book). As I was walking out the door, figuring I was jobless, Chuck said, “be here at noon tomorrow, maybe I’ll fire somebody, at least you can get a good meal.” He tossed me a CBS personnel badge so I could get by the guard legally, and I was off to Happy Hour someplace.

We’d found cheaper digs on International Drive so I had to find my way there. I hopped a couple of rides, got close, spent the better part of the late afternoon quenching my thirst and eating ten cent raw oysters, waiting for my brother to show. He had my luggage, the room key, and the motel name. I had no clue where I was spending the night, without clothes, and at my brother’s mercy. Thank God he showed up before my cash ran out, he escorted me to our new home, and tucked me in for the night. It had been a long eventful day, that pillow was all I needed right now.

I headed out to the course early, maybe someone whiffed their tee time and I could pick up a loop for the day. There were already a couple of experienced vultures checking the ranks, all caddies were accounted for and no reason to hang around. Lunch at CBS was a couple hours off so I roamed around, surveying the sights, and thought I was pretty cool with the CBS badge pinned to my chest. When it comes to the pecking order out here, a CBS weekend spotter may be one caste below a caddy, so I had no reason to feel special. But, what the hell, I didn’t no any better, yet.

That badge took me everyplace, I was still strutting for no reason, and entering the CBS compound Chuck called me over demanding to know my last name. I told him, Huber, and he bellowed, “why didn’t you tell me that yesterday? Are you Dan’s brother? Apparently Dan had talked with Chuck, told him I might be coming out for awhile, and I might be stopping by for work occasionally. I had the job, whatever that entailed, and Chuck told me grab lunch then wait for the orientation session.

CBS lunch is served in a large tent and everyone shows up. It’s the daily social event, and I sat there by myself watching Pat Summeral, Ken Venturi, Jim Nance, Frank Chirkanian, Gary McCord, and the other announcers fill their plates while hobnobbing with the crew. Everyone knew everyone, the tour officials were there, a few corporate bigwigs, and some local celebrities were all served about a five course meal fit for any good restaurant. By the end of the week I had a small group of spotters to eat with, and over the years some of my best friends have come from those TV compounds.

Lunch was good, orientation was short and sweet, we were given a few basic guidelines and a headset. The instructions were basically, “stay out of the way, but get as close to the action as possible without pissing of the pros or caddies. Pay attention to the caddies, they’ll tell you where to stand. And another thing, that headset is not for social purposes, only direct communication with Mr. Will. Speak only when spoken to and make it brief.”

Now I was real cool, a headset, inside the ropes, and helping CBS bring the telecast to millions of homes. My false ego was shattered early that first Thursday before we went on air. Prior to any telecast the networks conduct a mock broadcast just to make sure things, people are functioning properly. Apparently, I wasn’t, and caught hell from a couple of sides. My job was to position the handheld microphone next to the players in the fifteenth fairway, plus stay out of the way.

Bay Hill’s fifteenth is a challenging par four sharp dogleg right with a couple of penal traps guarding the right corner of the fairway and trees through the left side. I had to figure out how to be in three spots at once if the pros sprayed their tee shots, if I was lucky they’d all be down the middle. Well, me and my “want to be right in the middle of everything” attitude decided to position myself directly over the bunker so I could get a good view of the tee shots, getting a jump on my spotter positions.

The first group coming through included Bob Murphy (I look back, it must have been fate) and I wasn’t in the right position while they were on the tee. As they were walking to their balls, I strolled by Murph, started to say hi (since we were good buddies from last week’s pairing) when the tirade began.

“What the fuck are you doing standing over the edge of the trap, don’t you know you’re right in our line of sight and distracting the hell out of us? I started to explain my lack of experience which only fueled the fire, and he continued, “just get the hell out of the way and stay there, before that microphone ends up your ass and Chuck is missing a spotter!” Oh shit, I forgot Murph was a CBS announcer also.

Well, Chuck got wind of what was going on and barked into my headset, “Huber get the hell out of the fairway and stay there until I tell you to move!” Okay, Chuck. My first introduction to Murph’s Irish temper and my first wrath of Chuck experience coming up. My television debut could have been better, but I sure got every one’s attention, the rest of the day was rather uneventful.

When I returned to the compound Chuck was waiting for me, let me have it for awhile, and then he wanted to know about my family. These afternoon chats with Chuck became a ritual over the years, and an hour spent with him provided golf life insight you couldn’t get anywhere else. Whenever there was free time or I was working for CBS, many of us would gather around Chuck’s desk and let him ramble. He was a fair golfer in his time, Chirkanian’s right hand man since CBS golf inception, and loved a bit of the night life. He had stories of Arnold and Jack, opinions about everything, televised golf in it’s infancy, and everyone loved his reminiscing. Sure wish he’d sit down, write a book someday, it’d be a best seller.

There weren’t anymore screw ups that week, and Chuck even allowed me the privilege to segue to the eighteenth fairway Sunday afternoon. The TV crew definitely didn’t need the rookie over there, but I sure was glad Chuck let me see the finishing hole spectacle. The eighteenth was an ampitheather surrounded three quarters by people and one quarter water, with an air of excitement this country boy had never experienced.

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The Book with Andy Hoffman
My packed Toyota Corolla pulled out of Havana early March 1988 heading for Florida but not exactly sure where I was going. My brother promised to help me get started with this caddy gig but I wasn’t quite sure exactly what that meant. I’d visited him a few times on the road since he’d started caddying in the early 80’s, but I definitely didn’t have an accurate picture of what this life was all about. It looked like a lot of fun, there was a vicarious relationship with professional athletes, and I was going to get the hell away from my life for awhile.

Dan had played golf all his life, and was an assistant golf pro on Long Boat Key when the LPGA came through town in the early 80’s. The ladies were looking for local caddies so Dan took a week’s vacation, hooked up with whoever, liked it so  much he quit his job, and started traveling with Preacher Man, Walter Montgomery, and a few other old black caddies. After they made the Florida swing, the motley crew stopped by our place for a few days and then took off for who knows where. Dan looked like the middle of an Oreo cookie packed into that station wagon headed north on Tamiami Trail.

I told myself this wouldn’t happen to me, no way was I going to be a lifer nomad barely making ends meet. I had a college degree, reasonable marks on my LSAT and GRE, and had been through a few Peace Corps interviews, so six months was my limit and then back to the real world. Almost twenty-one years later I’m still hanging on but the lifestyle has grown old.

     We hooked up at Doral, I stayed a couple of nights with Dan and his two room mates at the La Quinta. Four guys in a hotel room is quite the experience, but that’s the way they had to make ends meet back then. I tired of the floor, and after Dan had hooked me up with Phil Blackmar for the next week at Eagle Trace, the Florida Keys were calling me. I had some camping equipment with me, very little money, and thought a few nights on the beach would help me settle down.

    Exploring is my favorite pastime, whether it’s in the woods, floating a river, or a new town; the Keys provided all the options, but there were things down here I wasn’t quite prepared for. Big Pine Key provided a nice beach campground and Key West, with it’s exotic nightlife, was about 45 minutes away. Sounded like a good time to me.

     After setting up camp, roaming the area a bit, I headed for Key West late that afternoon. I think my traveling routine started that day, and I continued it throughout my caddy career. As soon as I drove into town I stopped at the first local watering hole, checked out the clientele, asked a few questions, and generally tried to establish the lay of the land. Over the years I’ve learned a lot at these reconnaissance stops, and this first respite in Key West was definitely an experience.

     I slid into a corner bar stool, waited for the bartender, and tried to start up a conversation with the salt sitting next to me. I got nowhere, didn’t get a beer, and the bartender explained in no uncertain terms that this was a local hangout and gave me directions to the Duval Street area where the tourists were welcomed. I snuck out, still thirsty, but learned a valuable lesson that I employed throughout my career, both on and off the course. Quiet observation at the proper moments was the avenue for acceptance. Flamboyance and a lot of talk early usually alienated everyone, creating quite a bit of nervous tension.

I finally found the “tourist area” and started roaming. Like I said, I established my routine that afternoon. Walking into a bar I’d look for the corner where I could sit back, relax, and observe. One beer was my limit, unless something really attracted me, or the atmosphere was extraordinary. I’d do the same thing on the course or parking lot in my early years; sit back, watch, and take notes. The new guys who tried to befriend everyone right away were often caught a wary eye.

     Anyway, I started making the rounds and after a few stops I found this little cubbyhole tucked off in a back alley. It was interesting, not crowded, and the bartender was very friendly so I stuck around for a couple extra beers. A country boy doesn’t notice everything, and I was still quite naive at 32. All of a sudden these two guys across the bar were making more than the normal eye contact with me. Then I heard them discussing what they’d like to do with me later on that night. They weren’t my type, but I also didn’t want to give them false hopes so I sauntered to the back room, explained my plight to the young ladies shooting pool, and asked if I could be their friend for awhile.

They were by no means stunning, but I needed some female friends at the moment to ward off those hopeful romantics. I grew up shooting pool so the field was comfortable and we soon became close friends for the weekend. Nothing on the romantic side. We all just hung out, made the Key West rounds at night, and roamed the Big Pine Key beaches during the day. They were from Trenton, NJ in the newspaper business, knew nothing about golf, it was perfect. We had a great time, exchanged phone numbers, and I tried to contact them a few months later but never saw each other again.

There’s a lot of similar occurrences during my twenty years out here. Some have been weekend freindships, some have lasted years. The stories are about the people, the places, and the things that happened around tour life. It’s all intermingled, golf is only a small part of the story, and I experienced the story on every imaginable level. My first week is just an introduction, but looking back it was a very composite view on what I should have expected. Who knew it would go on for twenty years.

Back in Miami that weekend I hooked up with Dan, and this time I was the sixth man on the floor. I guess, if your roommate missed the Friday cut, he split and you were on your own. Luckily, someone had a suite room so there was plenty space for a “sixball”. These days you commit to a roommate for the week, you stay all week, and if you don’t you still pay all week. The money’s better but the cost of the room has definitely gone up.

Blackmar told me to meet him Tuesday morning at Eagle Trace. I asked what time, and he just repeated, Tuesday morning. To me, that could be anytime from sunup to noon, and it was my first introduction to the servitude code. We were paid caddies but we were also endentured servants, and there was really no definition to our job. It was that show up, keep up, and shut up that I had to learn early. It wasn’t easy, but it was the nature of the business.

     You didn’t ask a lot of questions, you just did what was expected, and that first week I had no idea what the job description entailed. Dan had filled me in a bit, I had watched him work, but it all changes when you put that bag on your shoulder and step between the ropes. We were staying with some friends that week, and every night during dinner (mainly cocktails) I asked Dan a million questions. He got real tired of my endless queries and told me I’d have to figure out a lot of things on my own.

I consider myself fairly intelligent, and this job wasn’t brain surgery, but I almost got booed off the course that first week. We were paired with Bob Murphy (what a coincidence) and Curtis Strange. They both had experienced caddies, Greg “Boats” Rita and “Big Lee”, who scoffed at me during the first tee introductions. I had no clue about the formalities, forgot that this was business, and just thought we were out there to have a bunch of fun. I was corrected quickly and often during those first two days.

Phil had to drag me across the tee box more than once to keep me out of a backswing. Curtis never talked to me, just gave me a couple of his patented “looks”. Both caddies asked me if I’d ever done this before, and reiterated, “I thought so”, when I told them it was my first time. And Murph, my future ATM, barely grunted at me when I asked him about his baseball career. My introduction to the pro game wasn’t pleasant but I still had fun.

My phone number was written on slips of paper one night after a bunch of wine, and I tried to pass it on to various female spectators. Another quick lesson, they weren’t interested in a caddy, only the pros. Seen but not heard while out on the course should have been tattooed to my forearm. We might get a wee gallery after the round but never during the competition. The pub patrons at least looked like they were interested in our stories.

We made the cut, actually Phil made the cut, I was a two shot penalty each day. He had to show me everything, but I think my learning curve was fairly short. Like I said it’s not brain surgery but there are a many nuances a caddy needs to learn. Phil taught me how to clean grips and properly wipe a golf ball. Really there’s a definite technique to all this minor stuff. Where to stand on the tee box, fairway, and green when performing the art was a constant lesson; and he also taught me when to talk …….. never.

I didn’t carry a yardage book that week, he didn’t trust me and I didn’t believe I could handle it any way. Did you ever see how many numbers George puts in those books? How was I ever going to decipher those hieroglyphics? There were so many things to learn and I think I’m still picking up some new tricks to this day.

We made the cut, collected $3,226, and Phil wrote me a check for $525 while we were standing in front of the scoreboard Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t quite sure how he figured the numbers, but I had just pocketed $560 (pro-am included) for doing nothing more than having fun. My previous job was much more strenuous, time consuming, pressure packed, and didn’t pay as much as bad week on tour. Granted there were more expenses, but Duke and Donna let us stay at their place free, plus wined us and dined us. I couldn’t think of a better way way to spend the next six months.

Then there was the hobnobing with sports heroes and celebrities. Saturday on the practice tee, as I  struggled cleaning Phil’s cord grips, Trevino and Vin Scully were making the rounds and chatting with everyone. As they approached us my mouth was agape and Phil snapped his fingers a couple times to wake me from my dream. Lee and Vin stood next to me, asked me a couple of questions, and discussed everything but golf with anyone who would listen. These guys were a couple of my idols and I was looking them in the eye. You don’t get to do that when you’re on the other side of the ropes.

This was my first full week on the job, quite the experience for me. Now, we’re going to multply that by about 35 weeks a year for twenty years. The rest of the book is a collection of stories from about 700 different tournaments; I’m sure we can find something to interest everyone. There have been celebrity outings with movie stars, presidential candidates, and sports figures. Twenty victories on the Champions Tour with Bob Murphy, Raymond Floyd, and Doug Tewell along with some major dissappointments and caddy catastrophes.

I’ve been through about five vehicles, put on about 40 -50,000 miles a year, and run them into the ground. Those cars have taken me coast to coast, in and out of dive bars, five star resorts, and more mom and pop motor lodges than I care to remember. There’s a good story every week, I won’t be able to tell all of them, but I’m going to tell the best ones.

This job has run me in the ground but the memories have left me smiling, I want to share them with you. I’m not going to throw anyone under the bus, but there will be some revealing stories you aren’t privy to outside the ropes. That stroll inside the ropes is special, I want you to walk along side me, and experience what I did. I’ll try to give you an accurate portrayal and honest observation of all aspectsout Tour life. There’s going to be a lot of laughs, some difficult reflections, technical observations, and some personal ramblings I hope you’ll find bearable.

That first week was special, just imagine what seven hundred weeks were like?

 

 

 

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This is just a little something I’m working on for the book. There will be a variety of chapters about caddy basics, and I’ll try to tell a few good stories around the topic. This is a very rough draft, so bear with it, I hope you get the gist of what I’m trying to accomplish. There’s a lot of stories like this about towels, bags, umbrellas, etc.

The Yardage Book

Before Angelo and Jack started using a yardage book in the mid-60’s, everyone was eyeballing the shot relying on local knowledge and feel. They started gathering specific information about each course, copying the notes into a small book, and using this prior to each shot. Angelo takes the credit, but most everyone agrees that Jack came up with the idea because Angelo refused to walk the courses. Most of the veteran pros scorned the idea for whatever reason, because many felt it took Jack and Angelo as much time to decipher the notes prior to the shot as it did to gather the yardages earlier in the week. Gradually the idea caught on and “Gorgeous George” made it a business in the early 70’s.

     George “Gorgeous George” Lucas, a self proclaimed nickname some say, made a small fortune from selling yardage books on every tour. He caddied for about ten years then travelled the world with his sidekick golden retriever, Corky, laying the groundwork for the high tech computer generated books we use today. He’d load up his van, truck, RV, travel trailer or whatever his current mode of transportation was and take off cross country trying to keep ahead of the tour. He’d map the fairways and greens just in time for the tournament, and then sell the books to the players and caddies. There were no lasers, GPS systems, printers, or Kinko’s back then. “Gorgeous” did it uniquely and had a bunch of fun along the way.

     George claims he first used a surveyor’s wheel but quickly graduated to a saltwater bait-casting rod. He’d set up office on the front edge of a green, sit in his lawn chair with adult beverage close by, and cast the line down the fairway. Corky would retrieve the tennis ball attached to the line, and George would direct him from sprinkler to sprinkler, tree to tree, or any other significant marking. The fishing line was colored in 10 yard increments so George would get a pretty good “guestimate” and we all relied on his calculations after 1976. I’ve never seen George in action but relied on his measurements tremendously. His JIC and JICYRFU numbers have bailed many a caddy and pro from jail in a crucial tournament moment. JIC stands for “Just In Case” and JICYRFU denotes “Just In Case You Really Fuck Up”. (See attached pages for different yardage book denotations)

     When the yardage book first became predominant, the pros led a small revolt, and demanded some sort of safeguard to assure them their caddies were still walking the course, not just relying on “The Book”. They called him on the carpet at a player’s meeting and a deal was struck. George decided he would include a few bad numbers in each book, and would then reward the first caddy who found the false yardage. I think the early books cost about eight dollars, George was offering twenty for the first find, and the caddies were swarming the fairways seeking their fortunes. Twenty bucks was a week’s rent, or at least a night’s bar tab back then.
     Today, when you’re watching a professional golf tournament that book the player and caddy are referring to costs $20 and most of us would be willing to pay $40-$50. Mark Long, Fred Funk’s caddy has taken the art form to a new level. With his GPS, laser, computer programs, and Kinko’s he has created a masterpiece. Any player or caddy could take his book, play any course blind and be very comfortable. His graphics are very precise, numbers exact, and he’s even developed a graph system for the greens which denotes carrys and slopes. If it was in braille, Ray Charles could get around the course.
     “The Book” has come along way since we used to just need a hangover and a pin sheet to caddy. We guard our books, and the notes in our books with our lives, only sharing the information with our close friends prior to the tournament, and never offering advice during the round. Ralph “Muledick” Coffee, one of the old caddie legends, used to have as many as 4-5 yardage books for each course. If you tried to peek over his shoulder, he’d give you and elbow and walk away. During the week you’d often see him roaming the woods gathering information, which he’d always try to divulge during the tournament through a heavy stutter. When he’d get excited his information would be a bit choppy and it might take awhile. Out of respect for our elders we never laughed and gave Ralph all the time he needed. The pros weren’t as lenient, and were often overheard saying, “God damn it, Ralph, spit it out.” And one time I listened to George Burns, a cantankerous sort, yell at Ralph, “I don’t care what it is from that tree, or that trap, or that sprinkler. I want the yardage from right fucking here!”
     Years ago in Scottsdale, I was working for Doug Tewell at the Phoenix Open. I believe it was a sweltering Sunday afternoon and we were playing well, making a significant move on the leaderboard. We weren’t going to win but we had a good chance to make a large chunk of change, barring any major screw-ups. Walking from the fourteenth green to the fifteenth tee I noticed a line of port-o-johns off to the left. Knowing there would be a two to three group back up on the par 5, I decided to take a comfort station break. Releiving one’s self in a port-o-john that has been fermenting under a hot desert sun for a week is not exactly a comfort, and especially after a long Saturday night keeping a bar stool company. You always like to get your major business done before the round, but here at this moment you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
     The holding tank was piled high, the stench was horrofic so it was quick on, quick off. No reading the sports page, just a quick squirt from both ends and back to the tee box. I call it the “afraid to fart syndrome”, you guys no what I mean, but things had to get done quickly or the sphincter muscle was going to explode and that wouldn’t be a pretty sight walking up the 18th fairway, not to mention the “caddy ass” that would result. Business done, back on the tee box chatting with everyone, I checked my caddy bib pocket for my yardage book, not there. I reached into my back pocket, no book. I’m sure the panic was evident on my face but I tried to maintain my composure and casually searched the area, no book.
     We had time, but not a lot, so I retraced my steps back to the 14thgreen hoping to find my “bible”. I couldn’t finish the round without my book and now my eyes began to well up because there was no yardage book in sight. As I passed the port-o-lets I decided to take a look. Nothing on the floor of my stall, opened the lid, and there perched on a pile of shit was “George’s masterpiece”. Luckily, only one end of the book was stuck, and it wasn’t completely soaked, so I was able to shake it loose, clean it up a bit and put it back into action, carefully. I kept my distance from Doug because the odor was evident, but as I was reciting the numbers for our second shot he turned to me and said, “what’s that smell?” I pleaded ignorance and we finished the round without any further discussion and I confessed after the round. We both got a good laugh, he semi-praised me for perserverance and dedication, but he actually couldn’t believe I reached into the well and pulled out that stinking book. Like I said you got to do what you got to do.
     Quite a few years later I was working for Brandi Burton on the LPGA in Youngstown, Ohio. There was a wait on the tee box and she handed me her yardage book. I looked quizzickly, said, “I’ve got a book.” She nodded toward the player’s restroom and said, “hold it till I get back.” We shared yardage book/port-o-john stories for the next few holes and had some belly laughs. I thought my experience was unique but I guess it happens quite frequently on the LPGA Tour.
     Gazzy and Wiz are from the hangover and pin sheet era. They’re half brothers who got their start on the European Tour when they were teenagers. Their dad, Scotty Gilmore, is the original professional caddy. Prior to Scotty travelling the European Tour and making a living, the pros used local kids at each stop, and relied on their knowledge. In Europe you don’t have sprinkler heads and designated yardage markers, you rely on caddy scratches in the dirt, and lining up a church steeple with a barn door on the opposite side of the fairway for your “accurate” numbers.
     Anyway, Gazzy is a great artist and would often times do his own book. Wiz talked him into doing a book for him one evening in a local pub because he hadn’t seen the course and had an early tee time the next morning. Gazzy probably charged him quite a few pints, but I guess Wiz didn’t buy enough. You see, the next day on about the 14th hole Wiz turned the page and stared at nothing. Gazzy had gotten tired of doing the book, or something, and Wizhad forgot to check the merchandise prior to the round. You need to have both of them together, oiled with a few pints, telling the story to get the true effect. They’ve entertained us many nights with their exploits and bar tricks.
     Finally, Trevino was playing Colonial in Memphis during his prime. To hear him tell the story he could drop a five iron on a dime back then, and never missed a yardage by more than a couple feet. He and Leroy, and old black Augusta caddy, started off the first tee and by about the fourth hole Lee was a couple over par and hitting every shot perfect. However, he kept coming up ten yards short, twenty yards long, and so forth on each shot. Finally, in the fifth fairway after airmailing the green, he grabbed the book from Leroy and examined it. Back then we played Colonial in Ft. Worth also, and Leroy had the wrong book. When Lee questioned him Leroy replied, “you sure we ain’t in Ft. Worth?” When they got to the ball buried in the thick rough behind the green Leroy turned to Lee, “come on boss you can it up and down for me.” I don’t think they worked to many tournaments together after that.
     There could be yardage book stories ad nauseum. We guard them with our life. These days a caddy without a yardage book is like a general contractor without a blueprint. It not only leads us around the golf course but provides us information about the town and the week we spent there. If you look into any caddy’s yardage book you’ll find an array of numbers,notes, arrows, reminders that only he can decipher. You’ll also find some valuable phone numbers, restaraunts, radio stations, hotel evaluations, and significant people you may want to keep in touch with over the years.
     Going through my shoe boxes full of books on a winter afternoon conjures up a lot of memories. Some I can tell, some I can’t.