A bagful of smiles for the golfer

By V. Krishnaswamy, IANS

Bangkok : The importance of a caddie in a golfer’s life can never really be over emphasised. A caddie, after all, is the only person a golfer can take advise from – though it is not always used – on the golf course.

Support TwoCircles

The caddie goes beyond taking the player around for the round and giving him suggestions on the lines on the green. He also takes care of the bag, cleans the clubs in the morning and hangs around while the player drives, chips or putts after the round. So much so, there are many pros who like their spouse to carry the bag.

“A caddie’s job is not all that easy. One has to see the player’s mood, the way the game is progressing, keep an eye on scores and also make sure one is always careful about the rules,” says Babu Ram, also called Thakur, who caddies for Shiv Kapur. In the end, the caddie must remember that he can only ‘advise’. The final word is that of the player. And the player must bear the cross even for caddies’ mistakes.

History has many examples of players being docked shots for a caddie carrying an extra club or some other rules infringement.

Indian players having regular caddies include Jeev Milkha Singh, who had Japanese caddy Ippei Fujimuro for seven years before the latter decided he wanted to settle down. Jyoti Randhawa travels with cousin Bunty Randhawa on the bag and Shiv Kapur has Babu Ram doing the job.

More recently, S.S.P. Chowrasia has been fellow to Indian pros Pritam Saikia and Rafiq Ali for tournaments on Asian Tour and Rahil Gangjee has been getting Sanjay Choudhary from his hometown Kolkata. As some of they say, it gives them a level of comfort and someone to talk to on the course.

For many professionals a caddie adds to the value by being a friend and even a confidant. If the caddie is experienced, he is a sounding board and a psychologist and coach of sorts.

Many pros prefer to bring along their own caddies but some prefer to hire locals to ensure better local knowledge of the greens. Good and regular caddies keep notes on all courses they have been to. “That’s the difference between a good and a great caddie,” says Kapur.

Here at the Volvo Masters of Asia, the host venue, the Thai Country Club has 220 caddies — all of them women. The Thai Country Club’s 220-odd women are often jokingly referred to as the ‘smiling blue army’ as they are all blue-clad.

The club’s golf operations manager Chawalit ‘Dave’ Surangsee explains: “The girls are all very good, well-trained in the etiquette of golf and they know the course like the back of their hands so it can be an advantage to use a local caddie.”

The player in the best position in this regard this week is the Thailand-based Scot Simon Yates. His caddie is also the Thai Country Club professional Daniel Wyborn.

The Thai Country Club trains these caddies in all aspects, from golf terminology to etiquette and finally to provide service with a smile.

Finally, a great feel good story about caddies in the region. Back in 1995, Paraguayan Raul Fretes hired a local caddie at the Volvo China Open and ended up winning the tournament. The Chinese caddie, Yang Hong-mei, got a fat bonus, but what’s more she was so inspired to play the game that she is now on the LPGA Tour in the US.