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So, they want to listen to us now. Up until recently, the last 4-5 years, the old axiom was still in place. Caddies were like small children, they should be seen and not heard, and seen as little as possible. Our mantra has always been “Show up, Keep Up, and Shut Up.” If we could remember, and abide by these three short adages our jobs were relatively safe; now they want to broadcast our thoughts and witticisms to the world.

When I first started in this business there were signs on the pro shop doors, “Public Welcome, NO CADDIES ALLOWED”. We were kept in roped off areas away from public view until out pros arrived and released us from the pen; now they want to listen to us during the live broadcast. Network camera operators used to get chastised when their lens angle was too wide and a caddy was included in the shot. The directors were always in their earpiece, “cut that caddy out of the shot.” It was all about the golfer; why, all of sudden do they want to hear from us?

Off the top of my head, I think it is a great idea and will add an interesting perspective; kind of like listening to a pow-wow on the pitcher’s mound. When we’re in the middle of the fairway discussing last night’s dinner, sports, the good looking blond on the last tee box, the public isn’t privy to all this conversation, and probably shouldn’t have the access. What we talk about inside the ropes between shots is similar to a private lunch conversation between business associates or good friends; nobody should be allowed for any reason. How would you like to me miked and broadcast over the airways for 4-5 hours during your business day?

But, that thirty to forty seconds just prior to a shot should be available for everyone. Networks are inside the football huddle, the catcher’s crotch, the dugout, and basketball’s bench; why not put a mike between the player and caddy during the moment of decision.

There’s a lot of good stuff going on in those conversations. When we flare a tee shot into the gallery they flock to the ball. The spectators want to watch the next shot, get close to their golf heroes, and most of all, they like to listen to our banter. I always have some very interested observers looking over my shoulder at the yardage book; and, after the shot I can hear them discussing our conversation, talking about how cool it was to be right there in the moment. Maybe we need to start flashing the yardage book across the TV screen once in awhile. That’s another interesting perspective for the general public.

You can’t leave the mike open throughout the round. Even though it wouldn’t be broadcast to the audience, there are still quite a few people listening in the production trucks, and there are too many private matters discussed between shots they don’t need to hear. I remember years ago a caddy thought it would be cool to tape record the entire round and then replay it for whoever might be interested. A couple of holes into the round one of the pros noticed the tape recorder and raised a big stink. That was the end of that experiment.

If they mike us, we need control and maybe a little compensation. We are already carrying forty pounds on our backs and we have quite a few other responsibilities that need attending. When Shot Link first hit the fairways the PGA Tour wanted the caddies to carry the packs and submit the information into the data base. We weren’t asked to do it, basically told we were going to do it, and no compensation was discussed. There is another volunteer following the group handling the Shot Link workload these days. We’re independent contractors only responsible to our pro and the guidelines established by the PGA Tour.

Before any of this hits the fairway TV networks, players, and caddies must sit down and try to work out the bugs. Hopefully, these microphones aren’t cumbersome and there is an easy on/off switch for caddy control. We’re thinking about a lot of important stuff at that critical moment, manning an audio control switch may not be high priority; it better be easily accessible and activated quickly, we don’t have a lot of time to mess around.

I really think, and have always thought, caddies should be more prominent, but I’m a bit prejudice. We provide a lot of knowledge, information, and guidance; without a good caddy some of these players would be lost. That player/caddy discussion is very important, and everyone handles it a bit different. Some players want everything before the shot; some players just want the basics. Caddies provide the same information in different ways. Some players want their hands held, others need their space. Watching and listening to these conversations will greatly enhance the viewers knowledge; they will have a new appreciation for the process, and hopefully a better understanding of what the hell we do for our man.

The TV audience wants the same perspective as the gallery along the ropes. An ear inside that crucial conversation is almost like being right there. The sounds of golf are as important as the competition. When Frank Chirkanian first put the microphone in the cup, that enhanced the broadcast; everyone loves the sound of golf ball in the bottom of the hole. Those microphones in the Augusta woods recording the birds chirping really adds something to a Master’s broadcast. What would a shot feel like if you didn’t hear the ball leaving the club face? That sound is critical to a television broadcast.

Those player/caddy discussions are also critical; everyone involved just needs to work out the bogies before strapping the mikes to caddies. TV doesn’t need to mike all of us, just those critical few in the last TV groups each week. And please, make sure that seven second delay is working for every one’s sake; player, caddy, and virgin-eared public watching the telecast.

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