"He really knew what he was doing," one of the caddies said. The others nodded. "Big pride in his work. There was this time he was carrying for Tommy Bolt. So Bolt says, 'What do you think?' and Hagan says, 'It's a six-iron.' Bolt says, 'No, it's a five.' Hagan says, 'No, it's a six and when you hit it, just hit it firm and don't press.' Bolt says, 'You're crazy, Hagan,' and he takes a five-iron and hits it 20 yards over the green. So Bolt takes the five-iron and he breaks it over his knee. Well, Hagan, who's been holding the six-iron, he breaks it over his knee, and he drops Bolt's bag right there and begins striding off down the fairway. He's done with him. But Bolt comes hurrying on down after him and he's all full of apologies. He says, 'Wait for me, Hagan, ol' Tom's right sorry. You was right. Listen, I'm on the tournament committee and I'm fining myself SI 50 for what I done.' "
"Do caddies ever get fired?" I asked.
The caddie called the Baron spoke up and said that Bob Goalby had fired him three times on one hole.
"He says to me, 'How far is the flag?' I tell him, and he says, 'You're fired.' Well, I stand around and he comes up with a bad shot and he sees I was right and he looks around and he hires me again. But he's all riled up inside, and when he misses his next shot he bangs his club around and his eye lights on me and he fires me again. So I drop his bag. I stand around. I don't know who else he can hang the bag on. A couple of grandmothers. He don't have any big gallery. His wife maybe. She was there. Or maybe he'll pack the bag himself. He must be thinking the same thing, 'cause after a while he says, 'Hey, Baron, pick it up,' which means he's hired me again. We get up to the green and we confer on a putt and he misses it real bad—he don't begin to do what I tell him. So he wheels around and he fires me again in this big loud voice. That's enough for me. I drop the bag and I head for the caddie shop. His wife comes running after me. She don't want to pack the bag. She says, 'Come back, Baron, please, Bob don't mean none of that, he needs you.' She's a great girl. I know he don't mean no harm. Golf does things to people. So I tell her that and I go back and I pick up his bag."
"Does a caddie ever really drop a bag on a pro?" I asked.
"Who was it—Tony?—who dropped Finsterwald's bag on the 15th at Denver in the Open in '60."
"Yah, Arnold Palmer won that one with a little short white caddie didn't he. You recall?"
Palmer had had some strange caddies, I was told. For a while, one caddie said, Palmer had a fellow who was a Marine Corps colonel on the lam—his wife was trying to sue him. The colonel thought he could lose himself in the traveling life of the caddies—which he imagined, I suppose, as the American equivalent of the French Foreign Legion. It worked for a while, until suddenly he was Palmer's caddie, appearing on television, and it rather went to his head. "He tried to pass himself off as a big shot," the caddie said. "Man, he had a terrific wardrobe. He was a good-looking guy. He turned up at the country-club dances in a tuxedo—man, he was more at home in a tuxedo than Palmer. I don't know what ever happened to him."
"Maybe his wife caught up with him," I said.