Caddie Confidential: Group effort at Match Play

AUSTIN, Texas -- How far have we come doing this little ditty called Caddie Confidential? Well, this is the first one I can truly, and laughingly, call a compilation.

I say that because as I started doing this "private" interview, the caddie and I were alone. But by the time we concluded, there were three other caddies involved with the answers and nine more in the room!

The best part? Each of the caddies knew what we were doing and they were all cool about it. For me, that means the caddies like and trust what this weekly column allows me to give to you, the reader, and it also means they trust you with keeping them anonymous.

So this week, I give you the first CaddieS Confidential!

Collins: What's the most challenging aspect of playing this format on a course almost no one has ever seen before?
Caddie: There's nothing challenging about it. You just beat the guy you're against.

Collins: Does it make that more difficult to do because you've never seen the course before?
Caddie: I don't think it makes any difference whatsoever.

Collins: Wow. Okay. Then of all the matches played on Wednesday, how many see the 18th hole?
Caddie: [Long pause looking at the ceiling thinking ...] Forty percent.
Collins: That little?
Caddie: Yes.

Collins: There's a fine line between aggression and stupidity on the golf course. How do you keep your player on the right side of that line?
Caddie: [Balancing aggression and stupidity will be] very mutual, between the player and the caddie, depending on whether you hit first or second [on the tee].
Collins: Explain how big a difference that is.
Caddie: It'll be a huge difference compared to not playing your ball the whole way [through the hole]. In other words, it doesn't matter if a five wins a hole on a par-4. That's all your goal is ... win the hole. Every hole is its own tournament.

Collins: How does that make caddying different than in a normal tournament?
Caddie: Cause you're not playing the golf course! You're playing the opponent. The golf course has nothing to do with it.
Collins: Does that make you caddie different?
Caddie: Yes, because all you're trying to do is win that hole. So you don't care about the next hole. Whatever the other guy does, you counter it.
Collins: The exact opposite of what you do every other week on tour!
Caddie: Correct. You don't wanna make a big mistake in a tournament, where a 10 [on the scorecard] costs you the tournament. Here, a 10 on a hole costs you one hole.
Collins: Maybe.
Caddie: [Busts a gut laughing.] Yeah... maybe! You still might win!

Collins: Last year, there was some "drama" when a player didn't concede a short putt. Will there be some gamesmanship like that this year?
Caddie: I think there will be a lot of gamesmanship and so there should be.
Collins: I like that you said "so there should be." Why?
Caddie: Because there's no love lost. You want to win. Doesn't matter how.
Collins: And at the end of the day ...
Caddie: Shake hands.

Here's where the fun starts. As the caddie is answering that question, another caddie -- we'll call him Caddie 2 who happens to be on the bag of an opponent of our first caddie for a match -- starts wagging his finger as if to say, "No we're not friends after the match." But he's laughing as he's doing it!

Collins: Is there still a lot of gamesmanship that happens on the PGA Tour?
Caddie: That was from the old days. There's very little gamesmanship on the PGA Tour now.
Collins: Why do you think that is?
Caddie: I think there's so much more money involved now that they don't have to grind out for [the] amount of what they used to play for. Back in the old days, players didn't make that much money, so money meant more to them. Everybody's got money now.

Collins: I want to ask you about the golf course.
Caddie: You should ask [Caddie 3] about the course.
Caddie 2: Yeah, he can't tell you anything 'cause his player only plays nine holes a day!
Collins: What's the most important aspect of this course?
Caddie: Keep your ball in play.

Collins: Favorite hole this week? [Now is when it really starts to devolve into a free-for-all!]
From behind us: [No.] 18, 'cause he can see lunch!
Caddie 3: [No.] 13. It's 13.
Caddie: 13?
Collins: The reachable par-4?
Caddie 4: Yeah, yeah, that one's great!
Caddie 3: You can go for it or lay up.
Caddie: And spin it in the water!
Caddie 3 starts describing why it is a great hole this week.
Caddie: See, that's why you should be asking a real caddie this stuff! (This caddie has been around for more than 20 years.)

Now I run over to Caddie 3 while other caddies are laughing as this exchange is taking place.

Collins: Best hole on the course?
Caddie 3: No. 13.
Collins: Why?
Caddie 3: Because it's a pivotal point in the match. It's a risk-reward hole. You can go for it, but just because you go for it and make it over the water, it's not an easy chip. You might not get up and down. A guy could lay up and you've got a pretty easy wedge shot 115 yards, but you could spin it in the water still. For match play, it's a [well-placed] hole that could sneak up and get somebody. Is that cool?
Collins: That was awesome. Thank you.
Caddie: Today we laid it up, hit it right at the hole, and spun it right in the water!

Collins: Are you a fan of the new round-robin format?
Caddie: No, I'd like to go back [to] play and win. If you're done, you're done.
Collins: Win or go home.
Caddie: That's what I'd like to go back to.
Collins: But isn't that even more stressful for the caddie? Flew the whole way here, do all that practice, and we leave after a day?
Caddie: It's match play, baby. Win or go home!

Collins: Can it help or hurt playing a practice round with a guy you're going to have to face in the first three days?
Caddie: [looking right at Caddie 2, sneering in jest.] It can only help. We can see all his weaknesses!
From the caddie behind us: [Laughter.] Look at him sizing him up!
Collins: How exactly do you exploit that?
Caddie: Wish him nothing but death! [Caddie looks up like he's watching a golf ball.] "Go in the water!"
Collins: Have you ever heard a caddie do that? Yell at another guy's ball, "Get left!" And there's water left?
Caddie 2: You will tomorrow!

The room exploded in laughter.