Over the last few months on the PGA Tour, there has been a unique phenomenon that has occurred. Three high profile golfers – Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day – have all switched caddies, moving (a bit unexpectedly) from long-time bagmen. While in the inner circle of pros and caddies this is nothing new, when any pro/caddy relationship over a decade or more ends, it does shock the PGA family. What is more surprising is the amount of media coverage it’s garnered. ESPN and the Golf Channel have spent a good amount of time replaying their history, inquiring the cause of the breakup, and wanting to know what the future holds for each party. I imagine it’s quite awkward for the caddies that have to deal with this aspect, but our understanding of the media driven world we live in now lends to the fact that it’s inevitable. But, is it a good thing?
In reality, we have no say in the matter. Years ago, a player would fire a caddy and within 12 hours, half the Tour would know. The caddy would immediately start the search for a new job and begin the networking game … telling all the caddies he was fired and if they hear of any openings to let him know, or put in a good word for him. The same thing happens today, but add in Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Now all your followers, friends and family know you were canned in real time. Despite the depression of everyone you know hearing you got rinsed, it also allows players you might not know to assist in the job finding by alerting their buddies or hiring you themselves. This essentially could expedite the process of finding a new bag, assuming you have a good reputation.
Older caddies, in general, like to live in the shadows. We used to embrace the fact that no one knew who we were, or what exactly we did. I remember Fanny Sunesson, who used to work for Nick Faldo in his heyday, would never talk to the media, and the smart caddies back then would also follow this mantra. She was a high profile caddy for a bunch of reasons. She worked hard, was great on the course, worked for the No. 1 player in the world and was a woman. This made her attractive to the media, but she said, “Only two things can happen if you talk to a reporter – One is nothing, and the other is bad.” Essentially, talking to the media is an easy way to lose your job.
These days the new caddy association and the younger generation of social media savvy caddies are using it to their advantage. Caddies are using their connections to start their own endeavors and floating it down the social media stream to promote it and get it to the masses. I know of a handful of caddies that are now offering a service or a product they’ve developed, and have created their own websites and are using social media to get the word out. The APTC is doing a lot of charity work and having the caddies take to the Internet to obtain donations and shine a light on those in need. This has turned into a great thing that we are all proud of.
Today, if you’re lucky enough to be working for a high profile player, you better be ready for the onslaught of coverage you’ll get when you get fired. Oh yes, you will be fired at some point, that’s a guarantee. You’ll be asked where, when, what, why and how. Then ESPN and the Golf Channel will want a statement. The good news is, after answering all their questions, you can tell them about your latest product…Caddy Boxer shorts – functional, breathable and comfortable in a variety of colors.
Chris Mazziotti is a veteran Tour caddy of more than 20 years. He currently loops for Paul Goydos. He has worked all four majors on the PGA Tour, and has caddied for players such as Brian Henninger, David Gossett, Brandt Jobe and others.. Mazziotti currently resides in Milwaukee, Wis. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.