Saturday, May 26, 2007

Really Really Long Post

For the longest time I have wondered: what does it mean to be a senior caddie? When will I know I’ve reached that status? Is it an age thing? I can smoke a LOT of crack before I pass out. Does that count?

Well, today it hit me: regulars. Look on any of the tours. Even though the caddies may be traded around and work for different professionals, they have all reached a point where they’re only working for one or two people in order to make a living. I know things like skill, dedication and hustle are all important qualities to have, but by landing one or two players and then keeping them around, week after week, I believe you’ve obtained “senior caddie” status.

I mean think about it. You cannot even HOPE to get requested unless you are able to perform your duties with a high level of proficiency. I don’t care if you’re Dave Chappelle. If you’re a funny man and your players are cracking up after every swing, that’s great, but that will not hold their interest in the long run. Pretty soon they’re going to get tired of raking their own bunkers, getting their own yardages and hitting their balls offline on the greens. I know of two or three “senior caddies” that have been yelled at by their “regulars” recently because they were not doing their job. I don’t care if the member is a huge Redskins fan and you happen to know every stat on every player that ever stepped on the field. Eventually, the players are going to wonder why they’re paying you.

Over the past 3 years I’ve had my fair share of requests. To this day I still occasionally go out with the same people. But for the most part, I’m a free agent. I’ve talked to a few of the caddies before about this and they all keep telling me that being a free agent is the way to go. They say that once you have a few regulars, there will be days when all of them will be playing at the same time, and then you have to decide which one to go with. And that can be tough. You’re bound to piss off somebody.

But I still think I’d like to have at least one regular guy. One guy that appreciates my service, but still just wants to get to know me and have fun out there. I can already see why it’s a huge deal when professional golfers and caddies split up. They aren’t married, but I’m sure it can feel like that at times.

“Why didn’t you caddie for me on Tuesday?”

“You needed to call me. You never call me anymore.”

“I call you.”

“Yeah, but it’s only when you need something. You never just call to chat anymore. That hurts, sir.”

It may sound ridiculous, but that really does happen. One of the caddies I work with was flown out to work for his regular in the Byron Nelson Pro Am this year. Five days, all expenses paid. Another caddie I know was working on his senior thesis and his regular gave him the keys to a penthouse in New York City for a week so he could finish his research. Those are just two examples. I could give you a dozen more. So while I understand some of the inherent problems with having a few regulars out there, I would still love to be in that position someday.

And then it happened. Or, at least I THINK it happened. Last Saturday, I ended up caddying for a member who usually only shows his face during the Member-Guest at the end of the season. He’s based out of California and doesn’t really get a chance to travel. He just split up with his wife because she was cheating on him. She also has a drinking problem. He’s a monogamous guy and doesn’t want to deal with it anymore.

I found out all of this by the time we reached the 6th hole. Honestly, I was flattered by his candid responses. It’s been about 3 years since I tended bar, and so I haven’t delved into that little aspect of customer service in a while.

“So where are you from?”

“California. But I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be there because my wife and I just split up. Oh, and how far do I need to carry this ball so it barely clears that front bunker?”

This guy transitions better than I do.

“Hit a low 145 shot to keep it under those limbs…and don’t worry…there are plenty of fish in the sea.”

Then, a perfect shot.

“Aww yeah! That shot was the tits!”

“The tits?”

“Oh yeah. Because there’s NOTHING wrong with tits.”

I love this guy. It’s rare to meet someone who can go from talking about the aftermath of a recent divorce to laughing hysterically at a lucky shot from the trees.

I was pretty tired on Saturday and I knew how hard I would be working the rest of the weekend so I spared myself some hard work. But for one reason or another, I impressed this guy enough to get a request the following morning.

Now we’re on to Sunday. Now this wasn’t your normal Sunday of golf. Monday and Tuesday would be host to the main event: an invitational tournament where the best 4 golfers from each club would be competing for a special designation—sort of a “king of the private clubs” trophy. So Sunday was always an automatic double shift because of the regular play in the morning and then a barrage of practice rounds for the tournament in the afternoon.

I was really happy to be going with Mr. Sarcasm again in the morning. It was a three-way split, meaning I’d only be carrying two bags for 9 holes. That was phenomenal, because I knew regardless of the weather, a sudden pandemic or giant twinkie-people taking over the earth, I was going to be working a double. I appreciated the opportunity to save my strength a bit before the real work began. But one of Mr. Sarcasm’s guests was special. Not like…blue bus special. I mean he was borderline celebrity. At least in my opinion. I’m going to be very careful about what I say about him, because I’m sure he’d appreciate some confidentiality, but I just have to share this little tidbit with all of you.

He was Tiger Woods’ attorney.

Apparently he just got back from playing with his famous client at the K Club in Ireland. He’s in his late 40s to early 50s, about 6 feet tall, and makes fun of absolutely everything. I think Mr. Sarcasm said it best: “Baldy’s got the attention span of a ceramic dog.”

Somehow, that comment made sense to me. And yes, his real nickname is “Baldy.” Well, either “Baldy” or “Barney.” Mr. Sarcasm suggested I call him that because his golf swing resembles Barney Rubble smashing a rock with a stick.

He’s around a 16 handicap and hits the ball a mile or a foot in every direction. But he has a great attitude about it. He just makes fun of himself and everyone around him. All in good humor, of course.

On the 5th hole Baldy was looking for his ball in the left rough, but he was searching about 50 yards ahead of where the ball actually was. When I told him where his ball ACTUALLY was, here were the responses, in chronological order.

Baldy: “Crap! I’m an idiot.”

Mr. Sarcasm: “You know what? It takes a special someone to think they’ve hit a ball that far. I love your optimism.”

Baldy: “How much you wanna bet I put this on the green?”

Mr. Sarcasm: “Which green? There are two you could potentially hit.”

Baldy: “Oh be quiet. Fairways are for sissies.”

And it went on like this all day. The other caddie in the group must’ve said “I’ve got to write some of this down” to me like 10 times throughout the round. On the 14th hole one of the other members of our threesome was down on the lower tier facing an impossible putt. Really, his only goal should’ve been to get the ball on the upper tier, but instead he wanted a read.

“It’s actually pretty straight. Put it out about 3-4 feet left of the hole. Right here.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. And try to get a good feel for the speed with your practice strokes. Make sure you give it enough.”

Typically, players coming up from the lower tier do one of two things. They either hit the putt way too hard and the ball ends up over the green, or they get scared and try to finesse it up the hill resulting in a putt which rolls back to their feet. This player accomplished the latter. I spoke up again.

“Same thing. Not a lot of break. Just make sure you get it over the hill.”

Baldy chimed right in.

“DUHHHHH! Good call Tom! Are you a professional caddie or something?” He started laughing. “I mean how freakin’ obvious is that?”

“Well, he didn’t do it before. I just wanted to make sure this time.”

On the 15th hole Baldy found a caddies’ nametag in the grass. But instead of putting into his pocket or giving it to one of us, he slapped it on his chest and started yelling, “I’m CHUCK now! The guy has GOT to be a better golfer than I am.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that “Chuck” has Parkinson’s.

Overall, it was a great experience being with him. There were even a few moments throughout the round when he threw out his two cents about some of the players on the tour, their relationships to each other, and some factoids about Tiger’s mannerisms.

“Outside of tournaments, [Tiger] the guy is hilarious. Non-stop jokes. He’s really a great guy.”

Well, I’m sold. It’s nice to hear that a player like Woods is just as genuine and approachable as one would think.

And to top it all off, Mr. Sarcastic wants to work with me again. Granted, he’s not out very often, but we really got along well. So at least there are hints of senior caddie-ness starting to show.

I was a little surprised by the afternoon loop. After looking at the tee sheet in the morning, I would’ve figured the boss would just lob an apple up into the air and I’d catch it as I ran by to get back out in the first fairway. But as it turned out, I waited around for about an hour after my first loop. In fact, there was a chance I wouldn’t be working at all.

So I got up and started making my way to the snack machine. I was bored, and I felt like chewing on something light before I was sent out again. As soon as I stepped out of the doorway one of the staff guys in a golf cart flew across my field of vision going full speed. The cart jumped the curb and slammed into the snack machine, smashing it up against the wall and spinning it around as the steel legs scraped big gashes into the floor. The table sitting next to the machine didn’t stand a chance. It buckled like paper from the blow of the cart, and all of the food and drinks on top of it were thrown into the air. Soda cans exploded on the concrete floor and the staff member was thrown out of the cart. Fortunately, the cart was now pinned between the snack machine, the table and the wall. The staff member got up, jumped back into the cart, threw a case of water bottles out and locked the brake into place.

My first reaction was a little strange. For some reason I was immediately convinced that this individual had purposefully ran the cart into the vending machine. I can’t imagine why I would think that, seeing as how we were all really busy and that cart would certainly be needed for players this afternoon. I instinctively ran over and asked if he was okay.

“Holy crap. I’ve never had a traffic ticket in my life. Now look what I’ve done.”

Two long, rather unpleasant-looking scratches ran across the front of the cart. The snack machine had a huge dent on the bottom and half of the springs inside had popped out. A variety of snack items had fallen into the tray, and I think $3 to $4 worth of change had dropped into the coin return.

The outside staff guy just put his hands on his hips and looked at me, his mustache twitching slightly.

“One of those cases of bottled water fell on the accelerator. There was nothing I could do.”

We just stared at each other. One of the 2-Liter bottles of Coke that previously resided on the table was still bubbling on the floor, spraying sweet sweet carbonated syrup into the air. An image kept running through my head. All I could picture was that staff member’s face, petrified, as he slammed into the snack machine. And all I could do was laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

In fact, when I walked up to my car to grab a spare pair of socks, I was still laughing. Two members in a cart drove by me and waved. The woman looked at me like I was crazy. I don’t know why I thought it was so funny. I guess it was because I realized I would never see anything like that again. And having a front row seat for it? I guess God really does like me.

But God added a little twist to the equation. The members that drove past me in the parking lot? I would be caddying for them. And both of them were insecure high handicappers. They just saw me laughing hysterically. Not a good first impression.

When I introduced myself, the woman spoke up immediately.

“I saw you laughing in the parking lot. We’re not very good at golf. Are you going to be able to handle this?”

I had to act fast. The group was staring at me.

“Oh, yes, yes. One of the staff guys slammed a cart into the snack machine. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.”

The woman started laughing.

“Really? How the heck did that happen?”

“A case of bottled water fell on the accelerator. There was nothing he could do.”

Now the whole group started laughing. Whew. At least now they wouldn’t be watching me like a hawk.

They were a nice group, but a combination of things, like worrying about tomorrow and the fact that they didn’t care about yardages or even FINDING their balls, made my job fairly unimportant. The only thing that kept me focused was that the member kept asking me for reads on the greens.

“Help me out on this one friend.”

He was very courteous, but there really wasn’t anything I could do for him. The Superintendent had cut and rolled the greens late this morning, and at this point they were rolling around an 11-12. He was long most of the time. So regardless of what I said, I was usually off by quite a bit. The greens were just too fast for him. Little did I know they were only going to get worse.

Monday. Finally, here we were. The big show. Twenty-Two teams, four great golfers on each team, 54 holes to determine the winner. Today would include 36 holes, 18 of which would be a two-man better ball net, the second 18 would be a modified alternate shot. I wouldn’t find this out until later, but the Superintendent would be cutting and rolling the greens after every ROUND. At the start of the tournament, they were rolling around a 12.5. I have never seen the course look this good.

The boss-man had given me the opportunity to pick my team. Apparently, whatever team you were assigned to traditionally invited you to play their golf course at some later date. Upon hearing this, I did what any other self-respecting golf fanatic would’ve done. I chose the team from Oakmont.

Upon first meeting the players, I didn’t think there was anything to worry about. The highest handicap on the team was a 7, and everyone else was around a 1 or 2. The previous evening I had even spent a little time researching their golf course, just so I could have something to talk about with them if we ever got bored out there. For instance, did you guys know that off of the back tees at Oakmont there’s a par 3 that plays over 280 yards? I couldn’t wait to ask them about it.

Each team was paired with two caddies. The other caddie in the group was my old roommate from Florida and the new Caddie Master at one of our new accounts in Maryland. The only thing I’ll say about him for the remainder of the tournament is that when our players showed their true colors and things started getting a little rough, he chose to stay with the only player who kept a good attitude about him. So his experience in the event was a little different than mine. I, on the other hand, ended up with quite a fight on my hands.

As the head pro from our club introduced himself and welcomed everyone to the event, he threw out the one small factoid that put me in a tough spot: rangefinders were going to be allowed. Upon hearing the news, one of the members of my team crapped his pants and started sobbing with joy. Helping that guy with yardages and club selections would be out of the question. And, after getting to know the other players, I could tell that they would rather listen to him than to me.

Now, normally I’d say, “Great. I won’t have to work very hard. They’ll be taking care of the yardages. I just need to replace a few divots and make an occasional read on the greens. Nothing to it.” But honestly, I had been psyching myself up for this event for a long, long time. I had been bringing out two or three balls with me every time I caddied to make sure that any question I had with a read on the greens could be later understood after a few extra rolls. I wanted to show these players how much I was worth. I thought this was only fair, seeing as how they were going to be charged an arm and a leg for my services, regardless of how much they utilized me.

But for the first round, I literally did nothing. I ran everywhere, I had every yardage and read on the greens ready for them to use, but they never asked. They hardly even noticed that I was there. But, I kept my cool. After the whole “Velvet Cuddles” incident a few weeks ago, I didn’t want to make a big deal about this in the caddie yard. But as it turned out, it was the other caddie in the group who spoke up.

“Dude, they’re not asking for ANYTHING from you. That’s fucked up.”

“No, it’s alright. I mean, they have a caddie. Whether they choose to use me or not is their business.”

“Still. It seems irresponsible of them not to at least ask you SOMETHING. I mean, it’s not like they play here regularly.”

I just shrugged and laughed it off. After the first round was over with, and grabbed a bite to eat. The course was nice enough to provide a lunch for the caddies, knowing full well we had a big day ahead of us.

At the start of the second round, the other caddie in the foursome came over to me before we all teed off.

“Hey, Tom? I heard about what they’re doing to you out here. Let’s fuck with them.”

“What?”

“That guy with the rangefinder? Regardless of what he says, give him a yardage. And as he’s walking past me, I’ll give him a yardage too. Maybe we’ll learn to break him of that habit.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what this was going to do, but I have to admit, I’d rather try to have a little fun out there than simply run around this course and say nothing. The next hole was a par 3. I got the yardage and walked over to the cart as they were pulling up.

“183 pin and 167 to clear that front bunker.”

The player pulled out his rangefinder, shot the flag and mumbled: “182.”

The other caddie (my hero, Scott) immediately walked over to him and said, “What do you get for a yardage with that thing? I get 182.”

He paused. “Yeah. 182.”

Scott looked back at me and smiled. “Oh, great. Thanks.”

I just stood off of the tee box and watched. When everyone had made an attempt, I started jogging up towards the green. Scott quickly caught up.

“That guy’s an asshole. I say we do that all day until he puts that damn thing away.”

I just laughed. “Well, alright. Not sure what good it will do though. I’m sure he sleeps with that thing.”

The next hole was a par 5 where players need a good lay-up yardage to set up an easy third shot. I walked off the yardage to the bunker and calculated a yardage with the uphill and wind. They pulled up and he instantly grabbed his rangefinder.

“It’s 194 to the front of the last bunker on the right. With the wind, I’d play a 185—“

“It’s 196 to the front of the bunker.”

“Okay.”

I stepped back. Scott’s players were nowhere near us, yet he still ran over to say hello.

“What do you guys have to that last bunker on the right? 194?”

The guy with the rangefinder just blinked. “196.”

“Oh. Okay. Thanks.” And he ran back to help his players. Mr. Rangefinder just stared at Scott for a moment, and then looked back at me. Did he understand what we were doing?

Scott and I tag-teamed Mr. Rangefinder for the next 5 holes. He must’ve received at least 20-30 yardages in TRIPLICATE at this point. And then, on the 9th hole, Mr. Rangefinder finally turned to me and asked: “How far do we have Tom?”

The heavens parted and somewhere a puppy farted happily.

“176 front and 198 to the flag. Playing at least one club less with the wind.”

“Thanks.”

And this turned into: “Hey Tom? Have a look at this putt, will ya?”

How did this work, Scott? Have I told you you’re my hero already?

“I see two-cups left to right. Just tap it, because it could easily get away from you.”

“Thanks.” And he made it.

In fact, for the last 5-7 holes, they consulted me for everything. And something amazing happened. They actually started playing better. I’m not trying to make an argument for caddies everywhere, but I will say that I can’t believe they didn’t realize this simple fact sooner: the less you have to think on a golf course, the better you’ll play. Period.

By the end of the second round, my team was in the middle of the pack. Probably not in any position to win, but still had a chance to make some noise with a good final round tomorrow.

Tuesday. For the final round, I would not be caddying for Mr. Rangefinder. Surprisingly, I was a little disappointed. I had made quite a bit of progress with him so far, and I was hoping I could actually CADDIE again today. Instead, I would be caddying for the worst golfer on the team (a “7” handicap who was playing like a 25) and the golfer who hardly ever spoke. I mean hey, what’s the worst that could happen?

Just as an aside: the greens were now lightning fast. By noon when the stimp-measurement was taken, the greens were rolling at an incredible 14.4.

For most of the round, it was business as usual. I wasn’t helping them on the greens (which somewhat concerned me because at these speeds it was a different golf course and I would’ve liked to warm up on them a bit), but I was helping them with all of the club selections. And despite a few whiffs off of the tee from the 7 handicap, we were playing pretty well.

Then we came to the par-3 11th. Oh number 11. Honestly, the only place you can land it is on the green. If you’re even an inch short, the ball will roll back into the water. If you go a little long, it will bounce off the back of the green and end up in the water. If you’re a little right, you’ll usually catch the bunker or end up with an impossible flop from the deep rough.

The only saving grace is that it’s not the longest of par 3’s. From the back tees it’s only about 176 to the front. Only. Today, the tees were a little up and it was 159 to the front and 181 to the pin. Obviously, the wind plays a huge role in club selection. For some reason the wind always swirls around the cove and it can change from a helping to a hurting wind after only a few practice swings.

I was stressing out. I wanted to give my players a golden yardage, but the wind kept changing direction and with the greens as fast as they were, only a perfect shot would stay on the green from this distance.

Okay. Well, they have to get over the water. So that means at least 160. They don’t want to go long, so that means less than 180. There was a little wind in our face. Or was it helping? No, it was definitely in our face. But it wasn’t crazy. Just a little wind to make you think you needed an extra club. I finally made an executive decision.

“Tom, how far do you think it’s playing?”

“175. Hit a good 175 shot and that will be perfect.”

“Are you sure? That kind of puts me between clubs.”

“What are the two distances you’re between?”

“170 and 180.”

“That’s a tough one. Well, I guess it all comes down to how confident you are in a solid shot. If you hit a really good 170 shot, that will be fine. But you have to hit it really well. Or, you can opt for a smooth 180. Just pick the shot you feel most comfortable with.”

“I don’t think I want to pure my 170. Let’s go with the 180 club.”

Sounds good to me. Now, I hate to admit it, but I think this hole is going to give me an ulcer someday. Whenever the conditions are a little tough, I hold my breath and mentally try to control the ball flight so that my player lands safely on the green. Sometimes I try to push the ball so hard with my mind that my face turns beat red and my stomach cramps up. Psychotic, yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

He didn’t catch it all. I could hear it. It was a little on the toe. I held my breath and tried to push the ball so hard that I thought I needed a new pair of shorts. But it didn’t work. His ball landed just short of the green, and the ball rolled back into the water.

He straightened up and just glared at me. “That wasn’t the right club. I needed more.”

Now, normally, I would’ve asked if he had mishit it at all, but this wasn’t a normal player. He was a good golfer and a special guest of the club. I had to take the subservient route. I just stared at him and kept my mouth shut.

And I knew he was wrong. Because the next player to hit put it just OVER the green. The other caddie asked him: “How far did you hit that?”

“I hit my 185 club. I needed to hit a little less.”

I looked over in Mr. Silent-but-deadly’s direction. He didn’t even flinch. He still thought he was right.

Our other teammate put his ball on the green. He was on another tier, but still had a makeable birdie putt. So our team wasn’t completely dead. But Mr. Silent-but-deadly was now on the warpath. He decided to take his anger with him onto the green.

Now, I hadn’t been reading their putts all day. My green reading skills were not exactly up to snuff, seeing as how I’ve never read a putt on this course under 14.4 conditions. But for one reason or another, I found myself behind the hole looking over our teammate’s birdie putt. I wasn’t going to say anything. I just wanted to have a general idea in case they decided to ask. I mean hey—that’s kinda my job.

“Tom? What do you see here?”

Wow. I guess he does want my help.

“You know, actually I see this putt as pretty straight, I think—“

“EXCUSE ME???” Mr. Silent-but-deadly literally screamed at me.

I paused. I wasn’t sure whether I should kick him in the nuts for being rude or try to explain myself. I started shaking I was so pissed off. I decided to use that in my response. I’m callin’ you out pilgrim.

“Yes…Initially, the putt will break left off of the ridge, and then because of this smaller ridge near the hole, it should come back to the right. It’s very fast.”

Mr. SBD walked behind me and looked at the line. “Well I just don’t see that at all. I think he needs to play it at least a foot outside right.”

“Well alright—“

“Yeah, Tom? I’m not going to use your read if that’s alright.”

Again, this is in front of everyone, including another caddie who had just started two days ago.

“That’s fine. Go with what you’re comfortable with.”

He pulled the putt immediately. It started about two cups left of the hole, broke to about 2 feet left, and then came back to about 3 cups left of the hole.

Mr. SBD immediately retorted: “Oh, I’m sorry. You should’ve played it at least 2 FEET out on the right.”

It’s moments like this that I truly wonder whether Darwinism is fact or fiction. Evolution should’ve taken care of this personality defect long ago when we were all trying to move forward as a species. I took a field-goal-kicker’s stance and was about to slam my foot in his nuts, but I decided that it wasn’t worth it. If you’re going to be a douche-bag on a course that’s playing this beautifully on a sunny spring day, I really don’t want to know what you’re going to turn into if reincarnation really occurs. My bet is he’ll end up coming back as a shrimp. With turds hanging off of him.

So for the rest of the round, I “stone-faced” him. I had the yardages ready, but I didn’t say a word unless he asked. I ran faster than I have in a long time. I wanted this guy to have nothing to complain about. I think after 3-4 holes he realized how wrong he was, and he kept trying to start conversations with me, but I wouldn’t open my mouth. By the time we reached 18, he thanked me and tipped me more than necessary. So that was nice, but I almost didn’t want to take it. It just felt wrong.

“You deserve it. You really hustled out there.”

I also kick people in the nuts on occasion. But today was your lucky day.

But as I started walking back down to the caddie yard, I started cheering up. Earlier this morning one of my cohorts decided that the caddies should have a golf tournament today as well. There were 20 of us signed up at the moment, and we’d be playing a great local track we lovingly nicknamed “Tits National.” The tournament was then aptly named “The Tits Open.” I mean hey, these members can’t have all the fun.

But when I came down into the caddie yard, there were 5-10 caddies surrounding the dry-erase board laughing the slapping each other on the backs. What the hell was going on? Somebody probably wrote “I’m Gay” on the board and everyone was just joking about it. One of the caddies ran up to me.

“Tom! Tom! Oh man. Keep it on the down-low, but we’re playing the Tits Open HERE today.”

“What?”

“Yeah man! Check it out!”

I walked over to the dry erase board and looked at the message. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It said something to the effect of: “Make sure to thank the pro, the GM and the Super for letting you do this. But your ‘Tits Open’ will be played here today at 3 pm.”

The Discovery Channel will tell you that a pig can have an orgasm for almost 30 minutes. Today, my orgasm would last for 4 hours. The course was in perfect shape, the greens were rolling over 14 and the weather was perfect. I wanted to cry.

After having a quick lunch and changing my shirt, I teed it up with some good friends. To top it all off, I had one of the best rounds of my life. A 78 from the tips. And number 11? Yeah. I played it 175 without even looking at the yardage. And it was perfect. It was all perfect. I love everybody.

The funny thing was, I still ended up losing money in the tournament. But I didn’t care. What a great freakin’ day.

2 comments:

New Texan said...

Great post/story... you can play with me any day!

English Dave said...

Evening

Are you not a senior caddie already? You've been there a while, now. Have you considered poisoning all those who have been there longer than you until you the longest-serving man left? It's an option, it's all I'm saying. I wouldn't worry too much about only working for one or two players, though. I'm sure that's not practical. If you could get on requests maybe half the week or so, I'm sure that would make life a little less uncertain.

I thought you had some regulars, though. What about Mr Nice and his unique "Fuck"? Did he not used to ask for you? I'm sure that's not correct English. Get rid of Scott and then you could go out with Peyton regularly whenever he plays. That Scott ... he's a bugger. He's the one stealing all your benefits like the pro tournaments and the New York penthouses. And he's laughing at you while he does it!

Tiger's attorney sounds cool. And Tiger sounds cool as well, away from the cameras. Every account of him from fellow players I've ever read says similar things about him, that he's really down to earth and happy just to joke about and be one of the guys. I think he was brung up proper. I love the way that Tiger always makes sure to mention in TV interviews that he had fun on the course, much more so than most other players I notice apart from, perhaps, Phil, Vijay and John Daly. So may tour pro's seem to whinge if the course plays hard or they play poorly, whereas Tiger & Co. seem to relish it as a challenge. I think Tiger and I would probably get on OK, if he could put up with me constantly swearing and calling him a woofter.

The big tournament sounds like great fun, apart from the rangefinder cock and Mr Pissy Pants SBD who can't hit his irons cleanly enough to hit par 3's.

"... somewhere a puppy farted happily." That's a truly lovely turn of phrase, old pal. It conjures up such a wonderful image of one of those cute little Andrex puppies really screwing his eyes up and concentrating on what he's doing, squeezing one out and looking really pleased with himself as a beatific smile spreads across his face. Dirty boy! Look what you've done.

Hey, go easy now. I'm a 7 handicap and sometimes I play like I'm off 25. It happens. Not often, admittedly, but it happens. Actually, no, it doesn't. That's the whole point of playing off single figures, I think. You're supposed to be able to cut out the really disastrous bits of the game. It IS easy to get on the bogey train, though, and it's a bugger to get off, somtimes.

Although you say Mr SBD was a good golfer, most good golfers I've played with (read: better than me and playing off 5 or less) know exactly how they've hit the ball and what kind of swing they've made as soon as the ball has left the club and are happy to admit if they mis-hit it or mis-directed it. It seems to be mainly the mark of those players who like to pretend they're better than they really are who look to blame others for their own shortcomings - it's something I have been guilty of in the past, but I am trying hard to erase from my game. I certainly know when I've put a wanky swing on something or have just missed it and I'm getting better at acknowledging it publicly.

I'm truly glad to see that you have instigated kicking in the nuts as an acceptable course of disciplinary action on the course. It is the way forward. Sometimes it's all these bozos understand. It would make you feel 100% better and would instantly make you a legend in the caddie yard. Admittedly, you might not get out again terribly soon, but what a send off. I say save it for the first jack-ass you get after your numbers have come in on the lottery - then you can retire with your head and hands held high while the schmuck writhes on the grass in your wake. What a way to go.

Man, I WANT to play in the Tits Open. How great does that sound? What do you have for a trophy? It's gotta be themed. I am the proud owner of a wooden willy engarved "Cock of the Course" at home that was handed out at one of our roll-ups. I've gotta take that back and palm it off on someone else - it makes me look a bit gay to have that sitting on my mantelpiece. Ha, "palm it off on someone else", sounds a bit rude.

I don't think I can top that, so I'll finish by saying that I'm so jealous you got to play your course when it was in absolutely perfect condition. It must have been like that time ... you know ... when those dudes came and played it and you worked for those other dudes and one of them was really nice and the other wasn't quite as nice as he seems. And that thing happened with that guy and that other guy and then it all happened, and then ... I'd love to play a championship calibre course in championship condition. I've played quality courses in my time, but not when they've been set up for the pro's or similar. Although I did play a links course earlier in the year and, although I would consider myself to be a better than average putter, I managed to put a 15 footer 20 feet past the hole - ain't no way I was reading that bugger properly.

Right, I'm definitely off now. Thank you so much for writing. It was long! Long = good, except when I'm writing long, then it = bollocks.

David