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Caddies balance business partner, family member role

Aug, 11 2017, 4:38 PM

Being a golfer's caddie is more than being a sidekick, there is a balance of business partner and family member.

"In a lot of ways you are with your caddie, on certain weeks, as much as your family," Webb Simpson said. "That role of a caddy is becoming more important. I've had Paul now since 2011, so we know each other pretty well at this point."

"The caddies joke around because I think they spend more time around us players as they do their own wives," Grayson Murray said. "A lot of times their wives don't travel with them on the road. They could be gone from seven (to)10 weeks in a row with us."

Like all relationships and business partnerships, times can be testy. Earlier this year and his caddie Mike Hicks split up before the Wells Fargo tournament ended.

"You have to bond with your caddie early on or it won't work," Murray said. "But it's also a professional relationship so it is business and if you're not happy with the way things are going, it's very common for players to go through one or two caddies a year."

Even so, it was odd to see two long term relationships end this season. Phil Mickelson worked with Bones Mackay for 25 years. But both sensed a change was needed so in late June, the golfing marriage ended.

The final week in July produced another fractured working relationship: Rory McIlroy dismissed his longtime caddie, JP Fitzgerald.

"I was getting very hard on JP and probably shouldn't have been," McIlroy said. "I just didn't want to have that frustration on the golf course so that's what I was really trying to accomplish."

So last week in Akron, and this week at the PGA Championship, the best man in McIlroy's wedding, Harry Diamond, is his caddie


"At least for these two weeks, I wanted to have someone that I knew beside me and I didn't have to try and get to know them," McIlroy said. "There wasn't that awkward spell."

Awkward is a good way to describe these public changes. It's hard enough to succeed on tour, golfers say they don't need any excess baggage.

reporter : Jeff Gravley
photographer : Brad Simmons
web_editor : Marilyn Payne