This week we start with a lawsuit appeal. I didn't ask if this caddie is part of the lawsuit; to me, it doesn't matter because every caddie has an opinion on it regardless. And wait until you read where this caddie ranks the Copperhead Course, host of this week's Valspar Championship.
Finally, we close with two of my favorite things: the mental part of caddying and food. Enjoy!
Collins: The caddie lawsuit appeal gets filed Monday, then an apparent meeting with the tour and a caddie rep gets cancelled. Thoughts?
Caddie: Well, I was 50-50 on whether they would sit down after the appeal was filed. But [the tour] knew that [the caddies] were appealing it, and they wanted to talk. It's not like [the caddies] went to them. [The tour] reached out to [the caddies] ... I think the outcome [of the appeal] will be pretty good [for the caddies].
Collins: Let's talk about the Copperhead Course. For people who've never been there, what should they know? What makes this course special?
Caddie: It's got elevation changes. All the other golf courses [in Florida on tour] are flat, so I think that's probably the biggest thing. You've got key holes that are very difficult to get through ... for example the Snake Pit. [It's] very similar to the Bear Trap [at the Honda Classic]. But not as difficult as the Bear Trap ... When you get on 16 with a 1-or-2 shot lead, you're definitely thinking, "I got to get this ball in the fairway" ... And the wind is usually blowing 15-20 here, so it's one of my favorite golf courses in the state.
Collins: Why does this tournament always seem to have the weakest field of the Florida swing?
Caddie: You got Nicklaus doing PGA National [for the Honda Classic]. And it's right before Doral, which is a WGC event, so they always get a strong [showing], especially with the European Tour players. And then you got Arnold [Palmer's event], so I know you know everyone wants to play Arnold's Bay Hill and support his tournament. And then you have Innisbrook, which is kind of like the ugly stepchild! But you know what? Honestly to me it's the best of the four courses. So you still get good players [to] show up here time in and time out. You know they did a little rehab to the golf course. Not much but ... the greens are back to their original sizes.
Collins: What about this course keeps the winning score so high?
Caddie: We got rough around the greens and off the fairways, [so] you get into small greens that are usually hard with swirling winds ... That'll contribute to keeping scores not as low as normal. And normally we don't have rough on the PGA Tour.
The golf course is set up for bombers. It's set up for the bombers almost every week. Unless you get a golf course like this or Hilton Head [or] Colonial ... you know, where they're a little bit handicapped [for land]. But normally bombers take out driver, hit it everywhere, and wedge it on the green. This golf course? Not so much.
Collins: What's the hardest part about caddying this week?
Caddie: The mental aspect.
Collins: Okay, so which part? Tee ball, second shots or around the greens?
Caddie: Well, what about if [you pro is] struggling at home with his wife? There could be other things ... you're thinking maybe [it's] on the golf course, but what about things at home or maybe a friend is sick? What about family matters? There's so many different things, so players can be a little temperamental.
Collins: Wow, great answer. So out of all those things ... Most challenging thing for the caddie to deal with mentally?
Caddie: Mentally? Honestly, it's a psychology game and when I am dealing with that, I get my player off that thought process. I talk about all the positive things in his life to get him away from the negative. So let's say he struggling with his girlfriend, or his wife, or his dad is sick or something like that. I talk about all the great things in his life. Get his mind in the happy place. Just like that movie "Happy Gilmore."
"Go to your happy place." If you have your mind in a happy place, usually, happy players play the best.
Collins: [Sarcastically] It's amazing how that happens!
Caddie: [Also sarcastically] Isn't it? How many players do you see playing bad with a sourpuss face on? The guys that are smiling and enjoying themselves are usually the guys that play the best ... In all sports, the guys that are happy are usually playing their best ... I'm a firm believer.
If I look at all the great athletes over time, they enjoyed what they're doing. So if a player's mind is not in the right place, your job is to get the player's mind in the right place ... I think the best caddies on tour are the one to have a great relationship with their players [and] that know the right things to tell him to get their mind in the right spot. Keep their mind out of whatever negativity is going on in their life.
Collins: Where's "the spot" this week?
Caddie: Gino's Pizza!
Collins: How funny is it that? If you asked a caddie that question in 1990, they probably give you the name of a strip club or a dive bar. So Gino's has good Italian food?
Caddie: Pizza! N.Y. style pizza. You don't go to a steakhouse and order fish, do ya?! I don't eat bad pizza so ... Anyone who eats with a fork and a knife to cut a pizza? puh-lees! They can go.
Collins: Stop before you get us both in trouble! Let's go eat.