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Caddie Confidential: Inside Stories from the Caddies of the PGA Tour Hardcover – April 1, 2009
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From the Back Cover
"Most sports have a coach or a manager--somebody to blame when things go wrong, somebody who can call a time-out and make a speech or fine tune something that can turn things around. Not golf. All the player has is his caddie." --"Alaskan" Dave Patterson
"It feels like I've been in college for the last 23 years, going out with friends, and having a good time every week. If this isn't the best job in the world I don't know what is." --Tom Thorpe
"We were warming up on the driving range on Thursday morning. There weren't many guys out there, but next to me was Gary Player, next to him was Arnold Palmer, and next to him was Jack Nicklaus. Those three guys were hitting balls next to us needling each other. I wasn't paying any attention to my pro, and he probably couldn't blame me. I was hanging on every word coming out of those mouths." --Richard Motacki
"When I started out 24 years ago there were a lot of guys escaping society. Today's caddies are college educated and have special skills. You'll find more college degrees carrying the bags than hitting the balls." --Anthony Wilds
"Not only did we have so many guys to a motel room that we'd go low score for the day to see who gets the bed, but the last guy out of the shower in the morning had to use the bed sheet to dry off." --Eric Schwarz
"Golfers seldom hit a bad shot. Just ask them. It can be dead calm, and the pro could hit his shot a little fat and come up short. If an excuse doesn't come immediately to mind, wait for it. A minute later as you're walking up to the ball you'll feel a little wisp of wind and sure enough he'll say, `I knew it was into the wind.'" --Jeff Kaleita
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
So after I left a local watering hole after last call, I walked and hitchhiked my way to the golf course and for there about 3:00 AM. I found a golf cart, and went to sleep. I was awakened by the sound of the mowers and the smell of the morning dew. I was on time for our pre-round practice session.
It was definitely not the best sleeping accommodations, but it ranked right up there with the YMCA in White Plains for the Westchester Classic, the $5 a night (Canadian) dorm room at Sheridan Nurses College for the Canadian Open, and Bruce Edward's (Tom Watsons long-time caddie) van in a hotel parking lot. At least I never slept in a bunker at the golf course.
Such was the life of an aspiring, wet behind the ears caddie on the PGA Tour back before the creation of the all-exempt tour, Tiger Woods, and the huge purses we see on the tour today. Nowadays a caddie can earn a pretty nice living on the tour. The only problem is that it is much harder for caddies to get a long-time bag to work. As long-time caddie Butchie Vail told me at the Nationwide Tour's Athens Regional Foundation Classic last spring, it is really brutal out there.
My experiences were limited to three summers in college because I decided trying to make money as a caddie was a heck of a lot more fun than working as a dishwasher in a local hotel restaurant (that job lasted three days). During those summers, I met some of the most unforgettable characters I have ever known, and had the time of my life. I told myself that I should right a book about it someday. Of course I didn't.
But Greg "Piddler" Martin, longtime caddy of veteran tour player Dan Forsman, has taken the plunge. Caddie Confidential: Inside Stories from the Caddies of the PGA Tour(Triumph Books, 171 pages, ISBN-10: 160078190X, ISBN-13: 978-1600781902, April 10, 2009), released this past spring, is a collection of stories and anecdotes from a number of long-time tour caddies. For me, it was a very interesting read because I know many of the caddies offering stories for the book, or referred to in the book. Because I caddied alongside and against some of them, I am a perfect audience for the book.
People like me will know immediately who Woody Blackburn and David Thore are, and this gives context to the stories about them. But for today's mainstream golf fans, the book may be a disappointment. Despite the title and cover picture, you may not get the stories you want to read. For the stories that are told, there is no real point of reference for the reader. A whole chapter talks about caddie's nicknames. However, there are no photos of the caddies, so a golf fan could not distinguish them from any other caddie if they are at a tournament.
You are not going to read about how and why Mike "Fluff" Cowan got fired by Tiger Woods. You are not going to come across any really juicy tidbits about the big players (or even the not so big players) or the marquee caddies like Steve Williams. You are not going to get information on how much they get paid today.
The reason is simple: fear. Throughout the book, caddies talk about getting fired, how many times caddies get fired, and some of the silly reasons for getting fired. There is no way they can be as candid as people would want and still hope to get and keep a bag on today's tour. The money is too good to pass up. That is their very simple reality.
If you want to read stories from what many would call a bygone era of golf, i.e. before the PGA Tour created the all-exempt tour and the purses grew to obscene levels, when players actually had to grind out a living, then the book provides some, but limited, insight into the men (mostly men anyway) and the experiences they have lived.
There is one story in the book that, at least for this reader, is pee your pants funny. Without going into detail, it is about a caddie that really gave a shart (and then some) to make sure he was to work on time.
While the book hints at potential "greatness" for the casual golf reader, it falls short by not telling the full story (or as Paul Harvey would say, "the rest of the story").
For example, there is a story of a Tour player (one who I have always liked and is a fan favorite) who's wife sent a letter out complaining that Tour caddies were making too much money. What the reader does not know is that this player's first wife was often his caddy in an effort to save money.
Another story tells about some caddies who perform valet services such as dropping off and picking up laundry for their player. It does not go on to tell of one particular player who not only requires that his caddy do those tasks, but to also cook his meals, clean the dishes, and so forth (caddies are much more forthcoming in casual conversations in the parking lot than they might be on the record).
Still another story tells of a caddie nick-named "Last Call" because he never failed to miss last call in a bar. It is hinted that he got this name as a caddie, when the reality is different. He earned that moniker as a player, and that behavior might be one of the reasons he never really made it as a player.
Even though as a whole I enjoyed the book, I am often drawn to little details and errors that others might not notice or even care about.
For example, long-time legendary CBS Sports Associate Director Chuck Will is referred to as "Chuck Wills" in a couple of places. It is not clear if this was intentional as a direct quote or just missed in the editing process.
In the chapter on caddie nicknames, there is a reference to Jeff "Squeaky" Medlin, saying he "HAS (emphasis added) a really high-pitched voice." The only problem here is syntax, as Squeaky died in 1997 of leukemia. If it is not Medlin he is referring to, then a distinction should be made.
Should you read this book? If you keep your expectations low and don't let the tile seduce you, it is a good but not great read. It worked for me because if my ties to many of the players mentioned (and I once caddied for Mark Calcavecchia, who wrote one of the forewards to the book). But this may not work for everybody.
There are better books out there for those who want deeper stories and insights. For me, the gold standard has always been Michael Bamberger's The Green Road Home: Adventures and Misadventures as a Caddie on the PGA Tour. There is also the recently published "Kaddy Korner - Life and Times on the PGA Tour" , self-published by Mark Huber. It is this latter book that you really learn why Lynn Strickler is called the "Growler", an attitude that had not changed when I ran into him at a Tampa restaurant in 1999, 16 years after I left the greatest job someone could have.
I guess it's all about making money, as Triumph Books (Random House) shamelessly used a picture on the cover of the caddies for Mickelson & Woods. Of course, there was next to nothing about either of those two golfers in the book. Does Steve Wiliams ever talk to the media about his boss? Of course not! Triumph could have had a real writer try to pull all the interviews together, but no.
It's not too often I read a book this flat-out bad. Don't bother even renting this from the library.
Disliked, too funny.
Recommend to anyone who is curious what goes on 'inside-the-ropes'