Category: Caddies

November 04, 2013

Caddie caught in the crossfire in Alex Rodriguez doping scandal

Posted at 3:35 PM by Pete Madden
Alex Rodriguez
Credit: Getty Images


If the Alex Rodriguez doping scandal didn't already have the makings of big-time backpage drama, The New York Times added enough sex, drugs and celebrity on Sunday to send Gotham's tabloids into overdrive.

According to a report by Steve Eder, Serge F. Kovaleski and Michael S. Schmidt, investigators for both Major League Baseball and Alex Rodriguez "have engaged in a cloak-and-dagger struggle surpassing anything the sport has seen," some of which took place on a golf course.

Rob Manfred, COO of Major League Baseball and Bud Selig's likely successor as commissioner, played a round of golf with his son and another MLB executive at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack just as Rodriguez began his appeal of his 211-game suspension. A former employee of the club reportedly sent an email to Rodriguez's lawyer claiming that Manfred had been discussing details of the case on the course.

The investigators quickly caught up with Jason Firestone, the caddie who had been with Mr. Manfred. Mr. Firestone said they told him that if he did not cooperate, “the golf course was going to go under.”

“They kept calling me, telling me they were going to ruin my life,” Mr. Firestone said about his conversations with the investigators.

The former employee who submitted the original tip then reached out to Mr. Rodriguez’s representatives again. He explained that he was a fan of the Yankees and Mr. Rodriguez, and had fabricated the story.

Eric Gallowitz, the private investigator who questioned Mr. Firestone, denied that he bullied Mr. Firestone. “Never happened,” he said.

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October 14, 2013

Tour caddies, unite! New group will 'professionalize' job

Posted at 12:06 PM by Pete Madden
Dean Herden
Dean Herden (Photo: Getty Images)

Professional caddies are banding together, but don't call it a union.

Cofounded by Dean Herden, Gary Matthews and Basil Van Rooyen, the Tour Caddies Association is a new group "representing, providing benefits and advocating for those who carry the bag on professional golf tours worldwide."

“It’s always bothered me seeing caddies waiting in a parking lot the week of a tournament, hoping to land a job,” Herden, who caddies for the LPGA's Hee Kyung Seo, told the Golf Channel. “I’ve seen a caddie who won two U.S. Opens looking for a job in a parking lot. That’s not right. We would like to see the industry professionalized. That’s the idea behind this.”

The group retained Michael Marini of Marini Player Management, a financial consulting service for professional athletes, to oversee the association's business operations.

“Everybody in golf is organized now except the caddies,” said Marini. “They’re the last element of the game not organized or standardized ... We are not a union. It’s the furthest thing from our minds. We are not here to organize a labor industry.”

Caddies are hired by individual players and are not employees of the Tour, so the formation of a union was "not really possible," according to Marini, but "we're not here to complain about wages or working conditions" anyway. Marini said PGA Tour was "100 percent behind [them]" in their efforts to raise the personal and professional standards of the industry.

For an annual fee of $199, TCA members will gain access to job postings from tour pros looking for caddies and financial services like travel booking, insurance benefits and retirement planning.

In addition to corporate sponsorships, sales of merchandise and fan club memberships, Marini also established the TCA Travel Center as a standalone business to supplement tour caddies' income. When caddies (or golf fans eager to support caddies) book their travel through the association, the TCA gets a commission that flows into the group's profit-sharing system.

"We're trying to make it more profitable to be a caddie," he said.

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

February 02, 2013

Caddies race, stumble and fall at Phoenix Open's par-3 16th

Posted at 9:54 PM by

Just when you think it couldn't get any crazier at the par-3 16th at the Phoenix Open, it has. It's now become a tradition unlike any other -- caddie races. Yes, caddies now race each other from the tee box to the green at 16. Enjoy.

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July 24, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Els planning to play Canadian Open this week

Posted at 12:07 PM by Michael Rosengart

To most of us, Ernie Els’ Open Championship acceptance speech seemed innocent enough. But, as the Toronto Sun’s Ken Fidlin reports, a little joke set off a minor panic for some up in Canada:

"I'm going to try and come and see you this evening," [Els] said. "I'm supposed to go to Canada but I think I'm going to blow that thing off."

Turns out "that thing" was not the Canadian Open, per se, just the Pro-Am tournament he was supposed to play in Monday morning at HGCC. Els was to have been on the Canadian Open charter aircraft along with some 40-50 other players and their families Sunday evening. Els' obligations as the British Open champion would have delayed the charter for hours, so he sent them on their way and will make his way to Ancaster Tuesday.

. . .

When Els made his offhand comment about "blowing that thing off" [RBC Canadian Open tournament director Bill] Paul quickly got on the phone and soon realized that he was, in truth, going to blow off a little steam and celebrate with family and friends Sunday night but would honour his tournament commitment in Canada.

Fidlin also reports that U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson will take the week off as his wife is still expecting their second child.

Another agenda item for R&A

Yesterday we learned that Andres Romero had Manchester City soccer star Carlos Tevez on the bag for his final round. While plenty of Mancunians in attendance were thrilled to see their prized forward up close, don’t count R&A championship committee chairman Jim McArthur as one of them says Reuters’ Tony Jimenez:

 "I think we may need to look at this particular case," R&A championship committee chairman Jim McArthur told reporters on Monday.

"The strange thing for me was he never put the bag down so when he was standing on the green he was carrying the bag all over the place. It's just absolute madness.”

We don’t even want to imagine what he might have said had Tevez, apparently a golfing novice, actually laid the bag down on the green.

Condi hits the links

While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is sweating over who to tap as his running mate, one of the presumed short-listers Condoleezza Rice was taking it easy with some friends at the Whistler Golf Club. According to the Vancouver Sun, the former U.S. Secretary of State dropped in without as much pomp as the course’s Director of Golf Alan Kristmanson would have anticipated:

I expected the snipers in the trees, close the course, the whole thing," Kristmanson joked. "But she rolled in with some friends, said they were having a girls' golf week and she was great. They went out and played a few holes, it started pouring rain and she said, 'you know what, I'm just going to shop' and they are coming back tomorrow. She was awesome."

Just don’t ask about her meetings with Gadhafi!

Sergio, D.J. hit balls into Thames:

Because the only thing missing form the Olympics is sponsorship overload:


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July 23, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Adam Scott's name had been traced onto British Open's Gold Medal

Posted at 3:52 PM by Michael Rosengart

Adam Scott said all the right things following his dreadful collapse yesterday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, but it probably doesn’t make coming home without the Claret Jug any easier. Nor does this mistake that ESPN’s coverage caught in the aftermath:


That screen grab, from Yahoo’s Jay Busbee, is an image of the Gold Medal that Open Championship victors receive in addition to a replica of the Claret Jug. Apparently, the R&A metal smiths had taken the liberty to trace Scott’s name in in preparation for engraving. Oops.

This Isn't the Football Pitch?

Carlos Tevez makes a living carrying soccer club Manchester City F.C as a striker. So what could the Argentinian superstar possibly be doing carrying golf clubs? Supporting compatriot Andres Romero at the Open Championship, reports The Daily Mail’s JJ Anisiobi:

Carlos said of his day: 'It was my first time at The Open and I enjoyed it but my shoulder is killing me.It’s much easier playing football than carrying that big bag around.'

The two men had a laugh as they made their way around the course and Carlos, who is an avid golf player in his spare time, picked all the right clubs for Andres to use.

He followed orders perfectly, unlike his days at Manchester City, and even pulled out a flag as his friend attempted a put [sic].

After Romero shot a 77 on Saturday to fall out of contention, Tevez visited the Memorial Tournament runner-up Saturday night asking for the loop. But Tevez was not nearly as useful on the golf course as he is on the football pitch, as his boss for the day finished in last place among players who made the cut.

We’re also still trying to figure out how you tip a caddy who makes $10 million a year.

A Break From Olympic TV

It’s nearly that time again when televisions across the world will be flooded by coverage of the Olympic Games, which are set to begin this week. After a weekend where golf was center stage, this can be a tough time for those of us who need our fix. But PBS brings some respite with “Golf’s Grand Design,” a new 60-minute documentary about American golf course architecture:

The program features interviews with ASGCA President Bob Cupp and fellow members Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye and Bill Coore, among many others.

Golf's playing fields have recognizable characteristics – fairways, greens, bunkers, and water hazards – but golf is the only sport played on a field with no specifically defined dimensions. "GOLF'S GRAND DESIGN" focuses on golf course architecture from the 1880s through present day and highlights some of America's best known and most influential courses.

The show airs Friday, Aug. 3 at 10 PM. And don’t worry, Olympic golf in Rio is just four years away. 

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November 07, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Williams calls backlash "ridiculous"

Posted at 12:37 PM by Mick Rouse

Caddie Steve Williams called the backlash over the racially insensitive remarks he made about his former boss Tiger Woods over the weekend "absolutely ridiculous" in an interview with New Zealand's Newstalk ZB radio on Monday morning.

"It's kind of like a locker room environment—everyone's just having a good time. My comments were by no means the worst comments that were passed. There was a lot of profanity and a lot of other kind of remarks, but just because I make a remark regarding my former employer, it gets blown way out of proportion and it's absolutely ridiculous."

During a caddie banquet in Shanghai, Williams was asked on stage why he gloated following Adam Scott's victory at the Bridgestone Invitational shortly after Woods fired Williams. He replied, "My aim was to shove it right up that black a------!" In the radio interview, Williams disagreed that "all the jaws dropped at the same time" as some reports said, and he cited a "difference of opinion" between those present at the banquet and media reports afterward.

"It was a fun sort of thing and everyone laughed their heads off. So, I mean, what you read is absolutely ridiculous."

According to a statement on his website, Williams's boss Adam Scott considers the "matter closed" and "will not be making any further comment" on the controversy surrounding his caddie. 

Greg Norman says Steve Williams is not a racist

Greg Norman said that his former caddie Steve Williams is not a racist, but that Williams's remarks about Tiger Woods in Shanghai were "stupid." Speaking with The Telegraph (UK), Norman said: 

"Steve's not a racist, not at all. We've all made stupid comments at stupid times, unfortunately his stupid comment became global news and I know he probably regrets it.” 

"But I guarantee you in that room, that night, there were some heavier things said." 

"Because of the temperature of what was going on between the two of them, anything that was said was going to exacerbate that feeling. I hope it gets resolved. Golf doesn't need it, golf needs Tiger back playing great golf the way he used to.” 

Norman is also openly supporting Adam Scott’s decision to keep Williams on his bag for the Australian Open and Presidents Cup and he doesn’t believe there will be any issues between Woods and Scott. 

"Adam's a professional. Whatever Steve said was Steve's opinion, not Adam's.” 

"Steve obviously does a great job for Adam because Adam's been playing some great golf since Steve's been on his bag. I don't think there's any issue between Tiger and Adam at all. 

And Norman doesn't expect fireworks when Woods and Williams eventually come face to face at either the Australian Open or President’s Cup.

"Does he [Tiger] like to hear the things that run around? No, of course he doesn't but he's a strong-minded professional and I don't see him having problems with it at all.” 

"He'll walk by Steve and who knows what happens? He'll have prepared himself in his mind much as Steve has prepared himself in his mind so ... it's all done, it's been said, it's in the past."

Tiger is scheduled to speak at a press conference in Sydney at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time on Monday (10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Syndey time). 

Tiger and Scott to be kept apart at Australian Open 

Unwilling to let the Australian Open turn into a “sideshow,” GOLF Australia officials have announced that they are consciously keeping Tiger Woods away from Adam Scott and caddie Steve Williams when they sit down to make the pairings for the event. Brent Read of The Australian has the story

Golf Australia had already made the decision to keep Woods and Scott apart when they sit down to make their pairings for the opening two rounds of the Open, fearing Williams's presence would turn the entire event into a sideshow. There may be no avoiding it now. 

"It's such a great field," Golf Australia chief executive Steve Pitt said. "It's such a deep field. There are so many really good players who are playing. I don't think it will become too much of a distraction. 

"Certainly, once the tournament starts, it will look after itself. There has never been any plan to play Tiger and Adam together.” 

Reports indicate that Tiger hit the ball well after playing two corporate events in Perth and Melbourne. Pitt is hoping that Woods's strong play follows him to Sydney. 

"The people who have played with him say that he's driving the ball really well. They're all expecting him to play really well in tournaments again. We're hopeful he will do that." 

"It would be a huge result if he was to win the Australian Open for him and for the tournament to add him to that list of winners. I think the next time he wins is going to be a big deal, no matter whether it's here or somewhere else."

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May 26, 2011

Dustin Johnson hires Joe LaCava as his full-time caddie

Posted at 8:29 AM by David Dusek

IRVING, Texas — Dustin Johnson announced Wednesday, after his pro-am round at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, that he had hired longtime Fred Couples looper Joe LaCava as his new full-time caddie. The pair worked together at the Players Championship on a trial basis two weeks ago but made it official this week at TPC Four Seasons.

"I look forward to a long relationship with Joe," Johnson said. "It was important I found somebody you feel comfortable with because you can spend eight or nine hours with them in a day."

LaCava had worked with Couples for two decades and has also spent time on the bag of Davis Love III.

"I'm very excited to work with Dustin," LaCava said Wednesday afternoon. "Of course I will have to work a little harder because Fred could never practice."

Johnson parted ways with former caddie Bobby Brown in April after a couple of incidents, including giving Johnson the wrong tee time this year at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, which led to a two-stroke penalty. Johnson was also penalized for grounding his club when he didn't realize he was in a bunker on the final hole of last year's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. That also led to a two-shot penalty that cost Johnson a spot in a playoff.

Johnson said he has yet to speak with Couples about the switch but hopes to in the future. Couples withdrew from the Senior PGA Championship earlier this week.

"You know Fred is always moving around and traveling, but I would like to speak with him," Johnson said.

— Art Stricklin

January 28, 2009

Bender back on bag after cancer scare

Posted at 5:05 PM by Cameron Morfit

Bender SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Aaron Baddeley’s loss to Tiger Woods in 20 holes in the third round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship last year wasn’t a life-or-death situation for Baddeley’s caddie, Pete Bender. That came later.

Bender hadn’t felt well all week, and one of his lymph nodes had swollen to the size of a golf ball. One doctor insisted he was fine, but a second opinion confirmed his worst fear. As Bender, 59, put it at the FBR Open on Wednesday, he’d “caught” cancer.

“It’s the same thing Hubert Green had,” he said as he stood on the practice putting green, where he received well-wishes and the boss practiced his stroke. “A doctor tried to tell me it was secondhand smoke. I’ve never smoked in my life.”

When Bender dropped out of sight after the Match Play, word got out that one of the Tour’s most famous caddies was in bad shape.

Bender counts two British Open victories (1986, ’90) among 28 Tour wins in his 38-year career. He’s worked for Greg Norman, Ian Baker-Finch, Ray Floyd, Jack Nicklaus, Lanny Wadkins, Hal Sutton, Rocco Mediate and now Baddeley. The caddie didn’t think he’d hit retirement age, but had to reconsider from his hospital bed.

He left the Tour, went home outside Sacramento, Calif., had his tonsils out, underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and didn’t eat for 62 days. Always skinny to begin with, he went from 178 pounds to 130. He spent two months in the hospital.

“Eventually I was so depressed I just had to get out of there,” he said. “I told them to get me out whatever it took.”

Wouldn’t you know it, the caddie strapped his salvation to his back. Doctors fit him with a backpack full of calorie-rich liquid food, a mobile soup kitchen that began to restore some of Bender’s vitality by way of his veins. He wore it for two months.

As he began to gain back weight (he’s now 150), he began to feel better. Baddeley, who played the rest of 2008 and his first two tournaments of ’09 with an old friend and longtime Tour caddie named Anthony (Ant Man) Knight, called Bender regularly, although the caddie couldn’t always talk.

In his first week back on Tour at TPC Scottsdale this week, Bender will tote a special lightweight carry bag, courtesy of his boss and Adams Golf. He walked the course without the bag Sunday and “felt great,” and went nine holes with the bag Wednesday.

“He’s skinnier,” Baddeley said, “but he’s still pretty chatty.”

Bender goes in for regular check-ups and is guarded in assessing his health, which he has continued to address with a combination of traditional and holistic treatments. He’s done with the chemo, but it’s not yet done with him.

“I can taste avocadoes and bananas but not salad dressings and certain soups,” he said. “I live on vitamins. I’m taking like 45 a day. I knew I needed help, and found a woman who has really been great. That’s how I’ve put on the 20 pounds.”

Baddeley finished up his putting and Bender followed him to the tiny carry bag, leaning on its kickstand in the fringe. Bender hoisted the clubs over his shoulders for the short walk to the range, a man trying to make the most of a mulligan.

(Photo: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR/Getty Images)

August 08, 2008

Singh's caddie a vanishing breed

Posted at 7:48 PM by Cameron Morfit

Singh_250 BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – There’s something eye-catching about Jeev Milkha Singh’s caddie, and it’s not the brand-new, rainbow-colored Nike running shoes.

Janet Squire, 38, is one of only two female caddies at the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, and is believed to be just one of two fulltime female loopers on all the major professional tours. Fanny Suneson, who gained fame as Nick Faldo’s caddie, and now works for Henrik Stenson, is the other.

“There were a few around, about six or seven of us 10 or 12 years ago,” Squire said as Singh signed for a 74 Friday to go into the weekend at 2 over par, three off the lead of J.B. Holmes. “Jarmo’s girlfriend used to caddie, Patrick Sjoland’s girlfriend, Stephen Ames’s wife caddied.”

Neither a wife nor a girlfriend (although she “might” have a boyfriend somewhere, she says), Squire, a 15-year caddie on the European Tour, got the call from Singh in April.

“She’s been on the tour for years, and I’ve seen her around,” Singh said. “She wanted to come to the U.S. Masters, she’d never been. I said, ‘Jan, let’s go.’ I finished 25th, so it was good. We’ve had two wins in five weeks. I think Janet’s been great, she keeps me calm out there, she’s very positive. It’s been a good relationship so far.”

A resident of Sunningdale, England, Squire began learning the trade at 13 “with the boys” at her town’s famous club. “They’ve shown me the way,” she said, and so have some world-class golfers. Before Singh, Squire spent eight years working for Jamie Spence, two for Matthias Gronberg and two for Mark Roe.

All of which makes her not so different from every other caddie in the professional game. Singh has had female house caddies while playing in Asia, but Squire is his first fulltime professional female caddie. He says it’s no big deal, except for one thing.

“Sometimes when you get angry, and there’s a woman on the bag, you want to watch your language then,” he said, laughing.

(Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

May 07, 2008

The Players entrance

Posted at 10:46 AM by Gary Van Sickle

I arrived Wednesday morning at the Players and had barely taken 10 steps off the media shuttle when a matter of blogoriffic proportions (yes, I just invented that word--use it if you dare) was thrust in front of me. A tour caddie, who must remain nameless because of possible retaliation, ripped into the working conditions the PGA Tour (which has historically displayed mostly a total disregard for caddies) has supplied here at the TPC.

The caddie's complaints were many. They've been bumped into a small, garage-sized room, and there are exactly two bathrooms--for more than 150 caddies. The food is apparently abysmal, too. Yesterday, the caddie said, there was a bin of what was supposed to be hash browns but in fact more closely resembled mush. The caddies have also been bumped out of their old parking lot, wedged between the entrance road and the first fairway, and into another lot across the road that isn't as close.

"The tour has always had nothing but contempt for us caddies," he told me. "But two bathrooms for 150 guys? That's ridiculous."

To add insult to injury, they are laboring in the shadow of a kajillion-dollar clubhouse that was brand new last year but includes no caddie hangout. And, they are fresh off the Wachovia Championship, where caddies get valet parking, first-class food and their own large tented villa and lounge. "And the tour wonders why guys like playing Wachovia?" the caddie asked. "Anytime the tour is in charge of an event, we always get screwed."

Welcome to Ponte Vedra Beach, fellas.

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