Linn (the Growler) Strickler is the elder statesman of Tour caddies. Since joining the Tour in 1973 he has worked for, among others, Fred Couples, Payne Stewart and Tom Watson. Strickler, 50, who caddies for Ben Crenshaw, got his nickname for the way he sounds when he asks fans to make way for his player.
The biggest change I've seen is how ridiculously easy the job has been made. When I started, the only yardage markers were at 150 yards and you were responsible for measuring the distances with your stride. Today a caddie can buy a detailed yardage book, count on every sprinkler head to have a yardage on it, and use a laser range finder if there's any doubt.
Most of today's caddies are competent, but some of them spell caddie with a k. Meanwhile, a lot of guys from my era are standing in the parking lot on Tuesday morning, hoping someone gets fired. I don't blame the players. They saw John Huston put his golf-challenged sister on the bag in Hawaii two years ago and set the Tour scoring record. There is a price to pay for selling experience short, though, and it comes on Sunday. That's when a real caddie knows to say the right thing at the right time, knows how to help a pro who is choking get to the house. Real caddying is a dying art.