What do great caddies have that others don’t?
I’ve read only the first 20 pages of Billy Mott’s just-published golf novel, The Back Nine (Knopf, $24), about a man who returns to golf as a caddy after 25 years away from the sport. So I’ll save most of my comments on it for later in the week. But you may want to check out the book before then if you’re looking for Father’s Day gift ideas for a golfer who loves to read (or if you’ll be opening the packages and are hoping to avoid getting another tangerine-colored polo shirt).
The first chapters of The Back Nine include this memorable description of what the best caddies have that others don’t:
“The best ones are in control of their wits, able to stay with the shot and think ahead at the same time. They’re admired, revered, and paid for their cool, for the knowledge and ease with which they carry out their tasks. They keep every club clean, are there when needed, and most importantly, know when to leave their player alone. And a good caddy always knows where the ball is; no matter how far off line, deep in the rough or the woods, he’ll find it and within seconds know the play, always aware of his position on the course and what shot to hit. He’ll know if his player should try to run the ball up to the green or just punch out, take his medicine and try to save bogey, maybe hole a putt and make par. ‘No, no,’ he’ll quietly insist. ‘You can’t make birdie. Forget it. Play for par.’ He gives just the right amount of information so his player can swing freely, play to his strengths and avoid his weaknesses. A nervous caddy makes mistakes, says the wrong thing and gets blamed for a bad shot or, worse, the whole round. And in a way, he is responsible. Indecision and lack of clarity are at the root of every bad shot.”
© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.