Love means never having to say you're sorry you chose the lob wedge.
At last year's Nike Tour Texarkana Open, Skip Kendall was having a round to forget. He had chili-dipped a half dozen approach shots and was well over par by the time he reached the 18th hole. A nice drive left him 80 yards to the pin. As he debated whether to hit a 56-or a 60-degree wedge, his wife, Beth, who doubles as his caddie, laid out his options. "You can either hit a hard 60 or chunk a 56," she said, adjusting her long blonde pony-tail. "The way you're playing, you ought to chunk a 56." Smiling at the memory, Skip recently said, "Just to spite her, I hit a hard 60 to two feet and made a birdie."
Holy matrimony! When did pro golfers and their caddies begin behaving like Al and Peg Bundy? Answer: the very first time a golfer had the missus around to blame for his misses. Kenny Knox's wife, Karen, was one of the first spouses to caddie regularly on one of the big-time pro golf circuits, teaming with her hubby on the PGA Tour in the '80s. Their working relationship raised a few eyebrows. Playing golf for a living is hard enough without having to lug around the old ball and chain. Furthermore, most people head to the links to get away from their spouses. Nevertheless, there are currently several couples proving that the family that plays together can, in fact, stay together.
The longest-running union is LPGA standout Cindy Rarick and her husband, Rick, who has been on the bag since 1985. The Raricks love the arrangement, but both say it requires commitment and the right personalities. And that having a sense of humor helps. A few years back a young golfer-caddie sought the Raricks' counsel. "I told them to forget about it," Rick deadpans. "It's the worst kind of spousal abuse."
For those who can hack it, there are plentiful rewards. The economic benefits are obvious: Along with travel and lodging, a caddie is one of a touring pro's highest weekly expenses. The Nike Tour, with its mandatory caddie rule but relatively meager purses, is home to a dozen wives and girlfriends who caddie. On the more lucrative PGA and LPGA tours, there are only six full-time husband-and-wife teams, and these couples are motivated primarily by visions of Cupid, not dead presidents. "You don't marry to be apart," says Jill Briles-Hinton, a nine-year LPGA vet who has teamed with her husband, Bob Hinton, for the past five seasons. "We can't get enough of each other," adds Bob. Confirmation comes on the 18th green, where this golfer and caddie share a postround smooch.
"A lot of caddying is just offering moral support and keeping the golfer in the right frame of mind," says Mark Calcavecchia, whose wife, Sheryl, has caddied for him on the Tour 15 times since 1987. "When I'm rantin' and ravin' out there, sometimes all she has to say is, 'Hey, you wanna go see a movie tonight?' and that usually shuts me up."
Emlyn Aubrey's wife, Cindy, spent 1993 and '94 caddying for him on the Nike Tour and followed him this season to the PGA Tour. "When you're under pressure, you have to have someone that you're comfortable with," Emlyn says. "A pretty face doesn't hurt, either."
But on-the-job romances can be tricky. For instance, who's the boss?
"On the golf course, I'm the boss," says Briles-Hinton, "but I make him feel like he is everywhere else."
"Out there I call the shots," Skip Kendall says, "but I'm pretty sure it's the other way around most other places."