During the time Steve Williams caddied for Tiger Woods;
It was said that he earned more than any other New Zealand sports person. When I heard that, the question I asked myself was: Is a caddie a sportsman?
In professional golf he-she is certainly one half of a two-person team. A good caddie does more than just carry the golfer’s bag and keep his clubs clean and dry when conditions are wet. As most golfers know, the many duties of a good professional caddie are, calculating yardages and giving the player advice on the best place to play his next shot to. Knowing the contours of every green. Knowing how to keep his player calm and focused. Encouraging him to play conservatively when that is called for or be bold and attack when the odds of success or the chances of winning are high. And of course professional golfers have different expectations, some relying more on their caddie than others.
I’m into caddies and enjoy watching them on TV to see how competent they are and how they interact with their player. Steve Williams must surely be the most well known caddie in golf after his many years carrying Tiger’s bag and now working with Adam Scott the 2013 “Masters Champion”. I wonder if there is or has been a caddie with more “Major Championships” to his credit. If there was a world ranking for caddies, I suspect Stevie would be #1.
Back in the 1850s my great-great grandfather “Auld Daw” (Old David) Anderson was a caddie (and “Keeper of the Greens”) on the “Old Course” at St. Andrews. His three sons including the oldest Jamie, (the “Open Champion” for three consecutive years in 1877-78-79), were also caddies in their younger years.
I even lay claim to having been a caddie for a few years as a young boy in the early 1940s. Every Saturday at the Hutt Golf Club in New Zealand, I carried the bag of a lawyer from the nearby city of Wellington. I guess he must have been one of the lucky ones who weren’t in Europe or the Pacific fighting in WWII. Anyway I was his bag-carrier for two rounds (bring your own lunch) and for that day’s work was paid the handsome sum of one shilling and six pence, I have no idea what that would be in today’s money, but it might buy you a single scoop ice cream.
So is a caddie a sportsman/athlete? He certainly should be as fit as an athlete and you could argue that he’s part of a two person team. But he’s not like a doubles partner in tennis. He doesn’t run with the ball and make a foot-ball touchdown, or score a goal, or run a marathon (although some days he might think he has).
So the way I see it, with all respect to the noble tradition of caddying and to my fellow Kiwi Steve Williams, my person conclusion is that he’s not a sportsman but more a strong assistant-advisor-mathematician-supporter, psychologist and in many cases a player’s very close friend.
What do you think? (Leave a comment…)