Wednesday, September 20

Looping, Part 3: The 1980s

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Following is another installment in John Coyne's caddie series. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

LIFE FOR A PROFESSIONAL CADDIE in the 1980s wasn't an easy gig.

As Mike Carrick explained to me, "You have to figure on paying at least $600 a week in expenses. Now if your player doesn't do well, then there is no way you can make back those expenses even if you're sleeping five or six in a motel room. It was a tough life on tour, unless your player was a winner."

Still, there were always 30 or 40 too many caddies going from tournament to tournament, hoping to grab a permanent bag.

Carrick had a winner and he worked hard for Tom Kite, who played 35 weeks of the 50-week PGA Tour. These, however, were long weeks, and required more skill than just being able to carry a golf bag.

While the pros took Monday off, or played in an exhibition match, their caddies were driving their cars or vans, filled with extra clothes and golf equipment, to the next event. Once there, the first job of all caddies was to walk the course with "The Book," which consisted of a diagram of each hole, marking the hazards, yardage from each sprinkler head, and location of bunkers, trees, and greenside traps.

In the early 80s The Book cost $10 and was designed by George Lucas of Florida, a former caddie who called himself, "Gorgeous George." While most caddies kept their Book from year to year, Lucas sold at least 150 new Books at the major tournaments that changed sites every year. Also, he updated his Book, and bought back old ones for $5.

On Tuesday the players arrived for a practice round as well as several hours of hitting balls and practicing putting. Carrick arrived on the course at eight o’clock in the morning, since Kite always played early on Tuesdays, and he didn't leave until eight o’clock that night. Wednesdays were Pro-Am events, and more hours spent practicing.

On tournament days there were always more hours of practice and Carrick was also available for Kite to run any necessary errands for his pro.

But the lives of professional caddies was about to get better. 


John Coyne is a bestselling author who has written several books about golf. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

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