To combat the long season each year on the PGA Tour, tournaments will occasionally offer perks to help soften the grind and help take your mind off the golf. These can come in the form of fishing trips, car-racing schools, or cool things associated with the local area like flight simulation at the Fed-Ex Flight Training Center in Memphis, player-only parties at famous restaurants in New Orleans, and carte blanche access at Disney World in Orlando. These are great experiences, and the players and caddies relish these moments. They also provide incentive for the players to make return trips back to these tournaments. Probably the most common, and most used perk tournaments offer, are tickets to sporting events. These are a few of my favorite experiences.
In 1993 at the BellSouth Classic, my running mate Scott had procured really nice seats from the tournament for a first round playoff game between Dominique Wilkin’s Atlanta Hawks, and Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. I’d never seen either guy in person and was jacked up to be at the game. As we arrived at the Omni, they were handing out “Brand the Bulls” posters, which depicted an Atlanta Hawks logo on the posterior of a bull. Scott was from Chicago, so he scooped up a couple of these posters and off we went inside.
As it turned out, our seats were really amazing – mid-court about 25 rows off the floor! We took our seats, ordered a few beers, and settled in for the game. At some point during a timeout in the 2nd quarter, NBA commissioner David Stern and his entourage of suits made their way into the arena. The crowd started to murmur as they became recognized. As it happened, they had the seats in the open row directly in front of us. In fact, David Stern was in the seat right below us. Very cool. Five minutes later, all hell broke loose.
It was a harmless steal by MJ, which turned into a break away. Back then, chances were you were going to see a once-in-a-lifetime dunk. As this started to play out, Scott, being the only guy in our section from Chicago, reached under his seat, grabbed a poster and started waving it in front of him, mocking the fans as Jordan was bearing down on the rim.
What Scott was unaware of, however, was the person behind him had accidentally spilled a full beer on his poster. As he was shaking it with full conviction, he was covering David Stern and all his boys with light beer. I was laughing so hard, but at the same time pleading with him to stop, which he eventually did. The whole row of executives slowly turned around and looked up at him, while he began the initial phase of an apology. After that incident, I’m pretty sure it was David Stern who coined the term, “make it rain”.
The tournament in Greensboro used to offer tickets to their hometown minor league baseball team, the Greensboro Bats, and one year I went to a game with my caddy buddy Brendan. As we walked in, a PR employee asked me if I’d be interested in competing in the dizzy bat competition around the fourth inning. “Absolutely not,” was what I wanted to say, but since we were given the tickets, I apprehensively said yes.
Fortunately, there was a beer garden in the left field seats, so if I was going to perform this ridiculous act in front of a few thousand people, I felt like beer was the PED (performance enhancing drink) for me. Brendan and I settled in, drank as much beer as we could in 3.5 innings and off I went.
My competition turned out to be a 12-year-old kid, and the winner would receive 10 general admission tickets to any future Bats games. I couldn’t care less. The kid was stoked! I immediately decided I would be throwing the match so the kid could win.
They brought us together and began explaining the rules. We had to put our foreheads on the end of a vertical bat on the ground, run in circles 10 times around the bat while keeping it secure, and make it to the mascot, who was somewhere nearby on the field.
We spun around the required times and I took the lead because I actually wasn’t that dizzy (PED), but then “mysteriously” fell over while the kid stumbled to the mascot for the win. I was happy for him and he was really excited, so I went over to congratulate him. He was walking toward me and I was about to say, “Nice job kid”, but before I could get it out, he looked at me and said, “In your face old timer!” I would’ve poured a beer on his head, but I had drank it already.
Thank you to all the events on Tour who do gracious things for the players, caddies and their families. From small gifts to sporting events, they go out of their way to provide some form of enjoyment or entertainment that can provide memories for a lifetime. We, in turn, can also provide memorable experiences for, let’s say, NBA commissioners and bratty 12 year olds. Make it rain kid … make it rain. I want a rematch.
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.