On Nov. 3 The Legend of Bagger Vance, starring Matt Damon as a washed-up golfer and Will Smith as a mystical caddie, hits movie theaters. We enlisted real-life caddie Alfred (Rabbit) Dyer, 63, who worked for Gary Player for 18 years and also looped for Frank Sinatra and presidents Eisenhower and Ford, to watch the film.
More unrealistic things happen in this movie than I've seen in more than 40 years of caddying. A woman stopping a player in the middle of a competition to talk romance? Please. A player with two caddies walking inside the ropes? No way.
There's a scene in which Smith counsels Damon in the locker room after a round. Back then—Legend is set in 1931—caddies, who were all black, were never allowed in the locker room. Being black myself, I changed my clothes in the woods until the 1970s. Why, in the '60s Charlie Sifford, a black player, had to change his clothes in the parking lot.
Yet I have to say that overall I enjoyed the movie. The actors played their parts beautifully, and as a caddie Smith was really in the game. He made it seem like an important job. These days, with all the yardage books and electronic measuring devices, players could have their wives caddie for them.
So despite the inaccuracies, I score the movie an ace. I also have something to say to Matt Damon, caddie to golfer: Don't give up your day job.