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Mr. Roberts ran the club with an iron fist. I was the cart man from '66 to '72 and always made myself available when Mr. Roberts walked the course to look things over. He hated to see a dead tree limb or anything out of place. Almost every time I would see him he would wave for me. He would say, "You go and you tell that goddam greens superintendent that I'm out here on number 14 and to come out here this very minute." It got to the point where I could be casually driving somewhere and the greens superintendent would see me coming and say, "Carl, is everything all right?"
By the early 1970s Jack Nicklaus was using a yardage book at the Masters. Most of the caddies and many of the players, including Arnold Palmer, weren't ready for that. Palmer thought the book slowed play. Caddies made club selections by sight. But they didn't realize that Nicklaus was onto something. Sure enough, by '74 the use of yardage books had started to eliminate good caddies and even my mentor, Pappy Stokes. Pappy couldn't accept the change. A lot of our yardages were from trees and edges of traps. Some of the caddies couldn't count, and some couldn't read a map. In '74 a half-dozen of us caddies walked the course and made our own yardage books. I was going to make that golf course my diploma. If I made a mistake out there, I wanted to know why.
In the fall of 1980 the greens were resodded with bentgrass. There was a lot of speculation that the new greens weren't going to survive the Georgia heat, but they turned out to be some of the prettiest greens you'd ever want to see, and they were easier to read than the old bermuda ones. They were also faster and 98% true, especially in tournament conditions. Most people in the gallery know which way those putts are going to break, but it's when you get on that fall or break line that it becomes really technical. I call it the pull—the place where the green pulls to a certain area.
A bad read
The lifting of the ban on non-Augusta caddies in 1983 was inevitable because players like Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino wanted to bring their guys off the Tour. That's understandable, but I couldn't figure out why Watson made the change, considering the success he had with Leon McClattie, who helped him win in '77 and '81. In 1975 I was in the golf shop with Bud and Freddie Bennett when Watson and Ray Floyd asked Mr. Roberts if they could bring their Tour caddies. Mr. Roberts said, "As long as I'm alive there will not be a white caddie working at Augusta National." In '84 Ben and I were in the group with Watson and Bruce Edwards. Watson hit the ball well enough on Saturday to put the tournament away, but he couldn't do it because he was asking Bruce to do what Leon could do. Bruce didn't have enough experience on those greens. Watson had three or four borderline putts, and he and Bruce misread them all. Ben [Crenshaw] thought that it was a no-brainer to keep a man with local knowledge on his bag.
Jack's gambling man
Nicklaus was his own caddie, really. He got his own yardages and made his own club selections. Willie Peterson was a good cheerleader. That's not to downplay his contributions, but what Willie did best was gamble. He would take your heart. He was the best gambler in the caddie house. He wasn't afraid of the money. He and Luke Collins, Ben's caddie before me, came to the course to gamble. They loved to play cards.