Wednesday, October 18

Looping, Part 5: New Generation of Bag Rats

Embed from Getty Images
Caddie Joe Grillo advises Steve Elkington during the final round of the 2005 PGA Championship at Riviera Country Club.


Following is another installment in John Coyne's caddie series. Read Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

By John Coyne


Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


Shortly after the Professional Tour Caddies Association (PTCA) was formed, the Nabisco Corporation sponsored a $5.5 million tour program, including money prizes for yearlong events, team charity completion and the Nabisco Championship held in October at Hilton Head Island.

One of the groups that it supported on the tour was the PTCA. While Nabisco's contribution to the association was only a small percent of its total investment in golf, just $125,000, it was vital for the caddies.

Nearly $100,000 went directly to the caddies as a payback for wearing Nabisco's white visor. The remaining $25,000 plus contributions from tournament events paid for the association’s van, as well as Joe "Gypsy" Grillo's salary.

Gypsy in turn ran a diner out of the caddies association-owned van, which was usually parked by the practice areas or behind the press tent. Here caddies could avoid the pricey vendor food on the course, and had a place to relax by themselves. The caddie van was their home-away-from home, a place to watch TV and get messages, as well as a decent meal.

The day I was interviewing Gypsy in his van at the 1989 Westchester Classic, Sergio Garcia was also in the van having lunch with his caddie and two other "bag rats." It gave Sergio, and other pros, a chance to have a good meal and a little time away from autograph seekers. While caddies still weren't allowed in the clubhouse, pros like Sergio were welcomed by loopers in their home-away-from home van.

Some caddies, not signed up by Nabisco, had gone out and gotten their own individual sponsorship. Steve Kay, for example, who caddied for Bobby Clampett and Keith Clearwater, had an arrangement with American Airlines. FootJoy provided sneakers for most of the professional caddies, and Nike gave 10 others three sets of new sneakers each year.

Although their players might be making $100,000 to flash a trademark while playing a round, caddies were willing to settle for a few thousand. As a result, they, like all professional players, were fast becoming walking billboards and camera hogs. When it’s "TV time," the caddies were known to quickly glide into camera range to make their presence, as well as their sponsors, known.

Away from the 18th green and the brief attention from television, I watched a number of caddies come and go from Gypsy's van. Rain had halted play and the caddies were finding whatever shelter they could, the club house being, of course, out of bounds.

Watching this new generation of bag rats, I asked Gypsy why he thought they came out on tour to grab a player's bag, since the majority of these caddies with their college degrees, could have found other careers.

Gypsy, who is a Dutch uncle to many of them, said simply, "They love the game and they have the same dream we all have. They want to bring home a winner."

TO BE CONTINUED.

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

Monday, October 16

Pat Perez Is Smiling



PAT PEREZ WON HIS THIRD PGA TOUR title and second in a year after going through shoulder surgery at age 40. Perez shot 24-under par for a four-shot victory over Keegan Bradley at the CIMB Classic.

Perez seems like a new, happier man, one that is maturing "late" (his word). He has spent much of his career looking angry, frustrated and impatient on the golf course.

Now Perez appears to be extremely grateful, not only for the wins, but for the people around him.

Thursday, October 12

Golf on TV: CIMB Classic, SAS Championship, Italian Open, LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship



From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Thomas – recently named 2017 PGA TOUR Player of the Year – headlines the field at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, looking to win the event for the third consecutive year. The PGA TOUR Champions are in North Carolina for the final regular season event at the SAS Championship before the Tour begins the first of three Charles Schwab Cup Playoff events next week featuring the leading 72 players on the regular season money list at week’s end. On the European Tour, Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm headline the field at the Italian Open, a Rolex Series event. The LPGA Tour’s Asia swing gets underway this week as Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson and Michelle Wie lead the field at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea.

PGA TOUR

CIMB Classic
Dates: Oct. 12-15
Venue: TPC Kuala Lumpur (West Course), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         10:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Live) / 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Live) / 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Live) / 6-10 p.m. (Sunday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Limited field event: The 78-man field features five of the top-20 players in the world in Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Paul Casey, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Louis Oosthuizen. The 72-hole event also features no cut.
Thomas defends: Justin Thomas defended his 2015 title last year, earning his first of his five wins in the 2016-17 season. Thomas will looks to earn a third straight victory at the event this week.
Headlining the field: Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Paul Casey, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Adam Hadwin, Xander Schauffele and Si Woo Kim.

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS

SAS Championship
Dates: Oct. 12-15
Venue: Prestonwood Country Club, Cary, N.C.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              2:30-5 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          2:30-5 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            2:30-5 p.m. (Live) / Midnight-2 a.m. (Monday replay)

Broadcast notes:
Garwood defends: Doug Garwood finished four shots ahead of Bernhard Langer to claim his first career PGA TOUR Champions victory.
Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Scott McCarron, Colin Montgomerie, Vijay Singh, Kenny Perry, Kevin Sutherland, Paul Goydos, Jerry Kelly, David Toms and John Daly.

EUROPEAN TOUR

Italian Open
Date: Oct. 12-15
Venue: Golf Club Milano, Parco Reale di Monzo, Italy

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         4 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Friday              4 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Saturday          6:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)
Sunday            6:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast notes:
Molinari defends: Francesco Molinari looks to defend in his home country of Italy. He became the first Italian to win his national open twice since the event’s inception in 1972.
Headlining the field: Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Alex Noren, Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Danny Willett.

LPGA TOUR

LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship
Dates: Oct. 12-15
Venue: Sky 72 Golf Club (Ocean Course), Incheon, South Korea

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern)
Thursday         Noon-4 p.m. (Tape delay) / 8:30-10 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              Noon-2:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 8:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 8:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 10 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)

Broadcast notes:
Ciganda defends: Carlota Ciganda outlasted Alison Lee on the first playoff hole to earn her first LPGA Tour win.
Headlining the field: So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park, Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson, Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Anna Nordqvist, Brittany Lincicome and Cristie Kerr.

Wednesday, October 11

A 40-Second Shot Clock Coming to European Tour



PLAY WILL SPEED UP IN 2018. Well, at least at one event on the European Tour.

As reported by GolfChannel.com, the European Tour will implement a 40-second shot clock on every hole at the Austrian Open in June 2018.

How will it work?

There will be a walking, timer-carrying referee with every group. The first bad time will produce a warning. Each subsequent infraction will incur a one-stroke penalty. One unnamed official estimated that the shot clock could save 45 minutes a round. Imagine that!

The experiment drew support from European Tour players at last week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, including Ryder Cup members Lee Westwood and Andy Sullivan.

"It underlines how long 40 seconds is to play a shot," Sullivan said, "and how ridiculous it is that rounds take so long. The sooner it's introduced on tour, the better."

Hear! Hear!

Monday, October 9

VIDEO: Phil Mickelson's Warmup Routine at Safeway Open


PHIL MICKELSON IS FEELING GOOD about his golf game after tying for third at the Safeway Open, his best finish of the year.

"The game has just come back and my focus is much better," said Mickelson, who will head to China in two weeks for the HSBC Champions.

Meanwhile, Brendan Steele successfully defended his title with a 15-under performance. The 34-year-old tour pro has three PGA Tour victories: two Safeway Opens and a Valero Texas Open.

Wildfires forced an evacuation of the Silverado Resort and Spa not long after the tournament ended. CNN tweeted a photo of grandstands on the North Course burning to the ground.

Friday, October 6

VIDEO: How Far Can Tommy Armour III Hit Ancient Golf Clubs?



HERE'S PGA TOUR WINNER TOMMY ARMOUR III, age 57, pounding balls with old golf clubs from the bargain bin.

How far will they go?

Thursday, October 5

Golf on TV: Safeway Open and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Embed from Getty Images

From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla.  – Two weeks removed from the TOUR Championship, the PGA TOUR 2017-18 wraparound season kicks off this week in Napa, California for the Safeway Open, where Phil Mickelson headlines the field. Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Branden Grace lead the field at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at a historic rotation of three Scottish courses – St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns – over the first three rounds. St. Andrews will host the final round of playSunday.

PGA TOUR

Safeway Open
Dates: Oct. 5-8
Venue: Silverado Resort & Spa (North Course), Napa, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         5:30-8:30 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Friday              5:30-8:30 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Saturday          5:30-8:30 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Sunday            5:30-8:30 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes:
2017-18 PGA TOUR season kicks off: This week marks the first of 48 official events during the 2017-18 PGA TOUR season, with eight of those events being played in 2017.
Steele defends: Brendan Steele won by one shot over Patton Kizzire to earn his second TOUR event, and first since 2011.
Headlining the field: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Adam Hadwin, Tony Finau, John Daly, Bryson DeChambeau, Keegan Bradley, Emiliano Grillo and Bill Haas.

EUROPEAN TOUR

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
Dates: Oct. 5-8
Venue: Old Course at St. Andrews; Carnoustie Golf Links; Kingsbarns Golf Links, Scotland, United Kingdom

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         8 a.m.-Noon (Live) / 1-4:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              8 a.m.-Noon (Live) / 1-5 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          8 a.m.-Noon (Live) / 1-5 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-5:00 p.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Event format: 168 professionals and 168 amateurs pair up as two-man teams, playing one round each at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. A 54-hole cut will take place with the low 60 professionals (and ties) and the low 20 teams advancing to compete in a final round at St. Andrews.
Hatton defends: Tyrrell Hatton won by four strokes over Ross Fisher to claim his first European Tour victory.
Headlining the field: Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Branden Grace, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Graeme McDowell.

Wednesday, October 4

Looping, Part 4: Birth of the Professional Tour Caddies Association

Embed from Getty Images
ABOVE: Mike Carrick looping for Mark Hensby at the Masters.

Following is another installment in John Coyne's caddie series. Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

INCREASINGLY, ON THE PGA TOUR, the pro-to-pro relationship between two intelligent, educated, business-wise individuals was taking place. By the early 1980s over 25 percent of caddies had college degrees, and about half were married.

There were exceptions. Ian Wright, a 40-year-old Englishman, caddied for the world's premier player, Seve Ballesteros, when a mutual friend recommended him to Ballesteros because he knew Wright was a fine amateur golfer. Now the new caddie tended to come from the same background as the PGA pros. Typical examples were Dan Hyland, who caddied for D.A. Weibring, and Tommy Lamb, who caddied for Jay Haas.

Hyland graduated from the University of Dayton with a business degree.  He met Weibring at the Columbia (Ohio) Country Club, where he caddied as a teenager. When he graduated from college he sent Weibring his resume. Hyland hoped to use his tour experience as a way to get himself known to players' representatives, since he wanted to become a player's agent himself.

Tommy Lamb quit John Carroll University to pick up Haas' bag when he was a junior in college, but planned to return to school for his degree, then  study law. Another caddie, Mark Huber, who worked for both Tom Purtzer and Doug Tewell, graduated from Illinois State. He also wanted to get into golf management, using the contacts he'd make on the tour.

The better life of these caddies in the early '80s was being made possible by the efforts of "Gypsy" Grillo and Mike Carrick. They realized in 1981 that the life of the professional caddie had to improve, and the only way to make it happen was to form their own association—the Professional Tour Caddies Association.

"The PGA has never given us anything," Gypsy stated in 1989 when I interviewed him at Westchester Country Club, "not before the association or after it.

"We deal directly with the tournament site and the people putting on the event. We give out our own I.D. badges, and we are responsible for our members. No caddie is allowed in the association unless he has caddied in 25 tour events. Today we have 140 members, each paying an annual fee of $50."

Being in an association has made it easier for the caddies to get corporate sponsorship. If it wasn't for such corporation help, the association wouldn't be much more than a name. But the group gave the caddies for the first time, an opportunity to speak with one voice.

TO BE CONTINUED.


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