The night life always took its toll on a few caddies. Next to Las Vegas there were more whiffed tee times at Lakewood CC, English Turn, and now the TPC of Louisiana than any other tour stop. Luckily I had friends to stay with so I didn’t get mixed up in the debauchery, well maybe a little. It was one of the few stops guys wanted to miss the cut, the Flor-A-Bama was a couple hours away, it was always calling a wayward caddy. The little bar on the Florida-Alabama border below Pensacola has trapped many a caddy during their I-10 (caddy highway) travels.

The first professional tournament in New Orleans was 1922, won by Gene Sarazen. The pros didn’t return until the late 30’s and Lord Byron made it one of his wins

My first year was 1988 with Woody Blackburn and 1989 I had Murph, both missed cuts, but the “Bama” only got me once. It would take it’s toll on a few of my buddies a few years later while my five year old daughter, Cassie, and I slept in the parking lot. The next morning she looked across the Waffle House booth at Kevin, “You don’t look good, are you sick or something.” The day before, as Kevin crawled in my Previa van after a long, hot, round she turned from the front seat, “Hey, Kevin you want a beer?” She was definitely a caddie’s kid.

I think we moved to English Turn in 1990, a Jack Nicklaus design built on a swamp. Everybody hated it at first, but it grew on you after it matured, and eventually became a very exciting course with some challenging finishing holes. In 1991, we were sitting around the caddy tent bad mouthing “Fat Jack”. Cassie was sitting beside me taking it all in and enjoying the camaraderie; she loved hanging out with the caddies. Jack walked from the clubhouse heading for the practice tee, she ran over, tugged on his pant leg while he was signing autographs, and blurted, “Hey, Fat Jack, did you design this piece of crap?” Out of the mouths of children……

Jack spun around, patted her on the head, forced a smile, “Who belongs to this kid?” Everybody turned to point to me but I was already long gone; I knew my daughter was going to say something she shouldn’t. While she was young we spent a lot of time on the road, and New Orleans to Pensacola coastline was out favorite haunt.

Like I said, English Turn went from mosquito infested swamp land to a very nice development. I was back there a few years ago caddying during PGA Tour corporate sponsor appreciation day. The tour offered any caddy who showed up for work two hundred dollars, and the boys flocked to New Orleans. There were so many caddies some were given the opportunity to leave and still get paid. Black Rabbit, Hobo and their crew were in the parking lot early and had first say whether to work or not work. Let’s just say there were a lot of Caucasian’s working the fairways. I drew Jerry, the Nationwide CEO; we had a good time but the tip wasn’t what I expected. Even if the tour was paying the salary, you expect a touch from the player.

When I left for the Senior Tour in 1993 The New Orleans Freeport-McMoran was struggling a bit. It lost it’s prestigious spot the week before the Masters and the top player passed on the event. The PGA Tour brought in a new tournament director Rick George, added a new sponsor or two, and created a top notch event. There were fishing trips and hunting expeditions planned for the players, and the corporate tents were again lining the fairways.

There were events planned every day for the wives, the most important person to appease, and the tournament got all the local restaurants involved. In New Orleans that’s a bunch of eating. During the pro-am four or five restaurants set up shop on the course; players, caddies, and pro-am quests come off the course a few pounds heavier. We don’t look forward to the golf, but we do look forward to the eats.

Everyone still loves the atmosphere at TPC of Louisana, but appreciated going back to English Turn after the Katrina flooding. The Zurich people, the tournament organizations, players, volunteers, families have done their share to help bring New Orleans back. Throughout the year and especially during tournament week the local players are doing all they can for the community. David Toms, Kelly Gibson, and other local players have taken a special interest; they have motivated others and make their rounds count off the course.

The Steve Williams story at the following link:

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