The caddies behind the greatest golfers

Written by By, Antonia Juhasz, CNN Before he was called “Bubba,” the emotional golfer Lee Trevino was the prodigy with a manic swing, the “Son of Woodside” and the hype machine’s favorite. Trevino could…

The caddies behind the greatest golfers

Written by By, Antonia Juhasz, CNN

Before he was called “Bubba,” the emotional golfer Lee Trevino was the prodigy with a manic swing, the “Son of Woodside” and the hype machine’s favorite. Trevino could have won nine majors, but blew his chances with an erratic play at the 1969 Masters — missing all four fairways in the final round.

A parting shot that day in Augusta Golf Club prompted one of his most memorable quotes of all time, “I don’t care if I never lose again. That’s too bad.”

The story has become the inspiration for an exhibition called Caddie 101. More than 200 caddies, staffers and regulars from the nine Augusta National courses will have an opportunity to exhibit their marksmanship in front of 200 people.

The event, which runs from May 26 to June 23, was created in association with Masters corporate sponsors. “The end goal is to use the expertise to help future caddies,” said Chris Coleman, the event’s curator.

But Coleman cautioned against saying that Caddie 101 has anything to do with Trevino. “But there are certainly similarities,” he said.

Yara Kamvar, 16, from Latvia.

Many of the caddies in the exhibition are repeat players and staff, including pianist John Dalla Costa. So what makes a good caddie?

Among the positions on tour are hole players and assistants, who help the pros with every element of the game, from club selection to adjusting the putter.

Coleman said that the role of a good assistant is really a two-person job, with the player dealing with the average patrons and the assistant answering their questions.

Golf enthusiast Pratik Nair, with his ceremonial Masters tee.

But an assistant’s duties can extend to other aspects of the game: “You have to be physically fit,” Coleman said. “You have to be able to hit your own tee shots, draw shots and have a strong follow-through off the tee.”

But an assistant is not just that — he or she is still only a worker. “You also have to be patient with the customer,” Coleman said.

Being able to talk with the customers, answering their questions, setting up the ball location with a fairway putter and putting. Also, he said, “very good listening skills and an ability to have respect for everybody.”

Caddies played a key role in the battle of the sexes on the links. For decades, women caddies rotated as visitors, generating stories that made the rounds and enriching history.

In 1950, Louise Voisin became the first female caddie in golf. She worked at the Midwest Club in Rockford, Illinois.

Courtesy Brian Ng

“A gentleman once noticed me lying on my back on the green wearing nothing but a towel and mittens,” Voisin recalled in 2011. “As he walked away, he said, ‘I wonder what it would be like to be a housekeeper.’ “

Those stories have a certain odd charm. The little thing that comes between you and a caddie is fascinating: both the act of putting the ball in the bag and the act of bending over to take it out.

Adam Luce, a former caddie on the PGA Tour, said one of the most serious caddies on tour was Fred Funk, a former major champion. In 2014, he released the first of an autobiographical audio series he called “Hooked on Golf” called “The Caddie Years.”

“Fred’s a more deliberate player,” Luce said. “He doesn’t take a lot of risks; he’s trying to hit the ball as good as he can …. He was a perfectionist. I think a lot of people forget that his dad was a golf pro.”

Jeff Walker, a former assistant pro at Augusta National, is on the caddie job for Caddie 101. “It’s a true work in progress,” he said.

“What’s neat is that a lot of the people who aren’t giving, who are helping out, they’re not going to take anything for granted. That’s really nice to see. That’s good for the whole tour. You want a partnership and it helps with the entire game of golf.”

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