Like a grasshopper, a caddie never stands still for long and spends many a day hopping through the rough. A good caddie is a philosopher as well, a man who can provide a rationalization for anything, including why an exemplary round through nine holes can be consigned to the ash heap by seven hacks getting out of a bunker at the 11th. The wise caddie also appreciates the oddities of the game and of the people who play it. Not every player who greets you with a smile and scores a sparkling 75 with your help will hand you a �100 note at the end of the round. I have caddied for a five handicapper who tipped me a measly �10 and for a quiet lad who shot 30 over but enjoyed his day so much he gave me �100. Another high handicapper presented one of my caddies with the tip of his career: a two-week trip to Singapore.
At St. Andrews, where I have been caddie manager since 1992, our caddies go through an extensive interview process. We want young men who will make a career of caddying, not lads looking for a snappy summer job. When I hear that a candidate's father or grandfather was a caddie, my ears perk up because good caddies have the work in their blood. Almost three quarters of our 170 caddies have fathers who caddied. By working six or seven days a week, they earn enough to live on, perhaps even enough to invest a bit in the market.
Free spirits they surely are, but thinkers, too. One of my caddies, Phillip Shields, has a doctorate in mathematics, which comes in handy out there. Our caddies are required to write their own yardage books, with detailed maps of each hole. They must know that the March Stone on the 5th hole is 153 yards to the Spectacle Bunkers, which are 68 yards short of the green. They must judge Scotland's ever-changing winds, the terrain, the proper target, and choose the right club, leaving to the player the simple business of hitting the ball. (Which isn't always so simple. One year in the Dunhill Cup, I caddied for a golfer from Taiwan who had trouble understanding me. "Aim at the steeple," I said, but he thought I had said people, and promptly lined one into the crowd.)
Still, one of the most crucial qualifications for a St. Andrews caddie is worldliness. Has he traveled? Has he experienced some of life's magical highs and terrible lows? If he has not, how can he hope to understand a round of golf?