Over the last 26 years, I’ve caddied for seven players full time. About 5 years ago, my roommate came up with the idea to see how many players we’ve actually worked for, which included one-week jobs or more. Once I did the math, I was shocked to learn it was in the 100-200 range. That’s a lot of different players with a lot of different personalities. And each one requires their specific needs. There is no one way to caddy. Some guys are quirky, others are needy, and others just have you there because it’s required. Like a player adjusts his game to each course, a caddy must adjust his game to each player.
I started working for Brandt Jobe toward the end of 2002. Working for Jobe was great for me personally because he had a definitive methodology that was really easy for me to wrap my head around. Let me also say this, he was and still is, as good a ball striker as you’ll find, and coupled with his method, provided a lot of room for error. If we had a pin 150 yards away, but 5 yards from the back of the green, we would instantly take 5 yards off that number and get to 145. Now he knew that he could be very aggressive with the adjusted number, because now there was 10 yards behind to the back of the green. Worst case scenario, short or long, he would have a 30-foot putt. Conversely, we did the same thing for a front pin, except add 5 yards. We would discuss all the other variables, come up with a yardage where he wanted to land the ball, and then hit. It worked great.
Seven years ago I started a new gig with Paul Goydos that is still currently going. This job, I soon realized, was at the other end of the spectrum when compared to Jobe. Paul is completely different than Brandt in the sense that Paul is not someone who is going to overpower a golf course. He has to think his way around and be clever, and has been doing it professionally for 30 years. I’ll be honest, he thinks much more creatively than I do, but that’s not necessarily my job for him. What I provide for Paul is information. Yes, every once in awhile if he’s between clubs we’ll discuss it, and I’ll read a putt occasionally, but for the most part I tell him what he asks for, and he grabs the club and goes. Plus, he can hit every club in his bag a variety of different ways and a variety of different yardages. I used to internally freak out when he’d pull out an 8-iron from 115 yards to a back pin, until I realized he was money at those shots and could control them consistently.
In between the last two veterans was Jeff Overton. Now I started with Jeff his rookie year, so right there you have a different set of things to deal with. Unfamiliarity with the courses for starters. I spent a good deal of my caddying with Jeff on Tuesdays during practice rounds, trying to show him certain things to be aware of and options on how to play certain holes. Caddying for him was at times trying because he was an extremely aggressive player and was fond of the hero shot. He didn’t have much interest in conventional wisdom. I would be begging for the chip out or the layup ,and he would just slash it out…which, I might add, he pulled off most of the time. But when they didn’t work, ugh. One of Jeff’s favorite things to do was prove me wrong. If I liked laying up on a par 5, he loved the challenge of going for it in two and pulling it off. I began to use this to my advantage though. Let’s say I wanted him to hit a hard 9-iron, but if I suggested the hard 9 he would often times over-swing and hit a poor shot. But instead I learned to say, “There’s no way you can get a 9-iron there, I like a smooth 8.” He would then defiantly snatch the 9-iron out and hit it perfect. I’m not sure I’d ever recommend that style of caddying, but it seemed to work with Jeff. Sneaky caddy.
There are hundreds of professional caddies around the world that all do their jobs amazingly. But each job is like a snowflake…no two are the same. Part of being a good caddy is learning to adapt to the player, not the other way around. You’ll do the basics for all of them, but the small details can make all the difference on how they perform. Like one golfer I used to work for who would put a deli sandwich in the bag before each round. One of my duties was making sure he remembered to eat every few holes. He had a good round one day, and was eating his last bite as we were walking up 18. He gave me the most unusual compliment I’ve ever received. He said, “Chris, that was good sandwich management today.” It’s nice to know if this caddying thing doesn’t work out, I can always get a job at Subway.
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.