There have been a number of very high profile splits between pro golfers and their long term caddies of late – particularly Jason Day and Col Swatton, Phil Mickelson and Bones, and Rory McIlroy and J.P. Fitzgerald – and from the outside it is often difficult to know exactly what is going on there.
Paul Stevens, known internationally as “the singing caddie”, has worked with many of the game’s greats including Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, Sergio Garcia, Seve Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw, Nick Faldo, Kel Nagle and Sam Snead.
Stevens has an encyclopaedic knowledge about the world of player/caddie relations and we talked with him recently about his take on the recent happenings.
Stevens, who has retired from the tour and is now doing his after dinner speaking and cabaret shows in Australia (see below), says it is not always a good idea for a top golfer to switch from a professional caddie to a friend or family member.
One of the big problems, as he sees it, is when the chips are down what is required is a caddie who will forcefully tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear. The problem is having a friend/caddie who is afraid of speaking up and disagreeing.
“I just wish that I had been with Tom Watson at Turnberry the last time as i would never have allowed him to hit 8 iron when it should have been a PW!” he told us.
Stevens has penned the following article on the subject.
The “Friends and Family Tour”
By Paul Stevens
“the singing caddie”
The “Friends and Family Tour” was a disparaging remark invented by regular tour caddies when one of their own was replaced by a family member or friend to carry the bag on tour for a professional golfer.
I am not really sure if this move started out as an economical ploy originally, although I suspect that it was to keep the earnings within the family coffers as with Mark Calcavechia and Steve Stricker and their respective wives when they first came out on tour.
I am also unsure as to how successful it was as it had happened previously with Ken Green and his sister.
Probably the most successful appointment of this type was that of Padraig Harrington sacking a regular tour caddie to engage his brother-in-law, who although not a particularly good caddie initially, he stuck around long enough to learn the rudiments of the job and attained obvious success, although I am not sure how much input he provided as opposed to Harrington making the crucial decisions?
It certainly has not worked for the superb Retief Goosen employing his brother-in-law and did not work for Charl Schwartzel when he took his brother.
There have obviously been predictable sackings such as Fluff Cowan (who was becoming bigger than Tiger!) and Steve Williams (ridiculously going to caddy for one of Tiger’s rivals in Adam Scott whilst Tiger was injured when he would most certainly have been on a retainer!)
Also the sacking of J.P. by Rory was entirely predictable due to the terrible job that he did at The Open, when his club selections off the tee all week on the 10th Hole alone, almost certainly cost McIlroy the title and this was despite all the trumpet blowing boasts by the caddie who single-handedly claimed all the credit for turning the first round around!! Really?
Obviously and to a lesser extent was the sacking of Col Swatton after the aberration at the PGA which almost certainly cost Jason Day his chance of the title! This would have been more difficult due to the closeness of the Player and Caddie but was probably done to protect the relationship.
Similarly, the very surprising break up between Phil and Bones after 25 successful years, leading to the appointment of another family member allied to the appointments of close friends by Jason and Rory, to me is quite amazing!
Sometimes changes have to be made but usually in an attempt to obtain a better caddie in the hope of more success?
Seve Ballesteros asked me on at least half a dozen occasions to be his caddie, stating that he thought that I was one of the best caddies in the world (which is why he arranged for me to caddy for Sergio when he turned pro)and saying that he would win another Major with me on his bag!
The “Friends and Family” term was very apparent in Australia when I arrived here in 1974 as there were practically no caddies at all and Newton, Shearer, Marsh, etc., all went down this road which is why I had a monopoly of all the top American golfers and was able to caddie for people such as Watson, Crenshaw, Rogers, Irwin, Eichelberger, Snead, Bolt, etc.,as well as Norman, Shearer, Stanley, Marsh and Graham on occasion.
Seve also had his brother caddying for him as did many other Spanish players but this was definitely to save money and keep it in the family!
Paul Stevens After Dinner Speaking
Paul Stevens is now working in Australia as a very popular after dinner speaker where as well as the serious stuff combines lots of humour and anecdotes of his 35 years inside the ropes with many of golf’s greats. His talks are very entertaining and particularly suited to any golf function.
He is also available for full evenings as The Singing Caddie featuring Cabaret(Vocals/Comedy)and Dance Spot. As you can see/hear from the video below, he’s quite a singer.
Stevens can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org; on contact numbers 02 9939 0023 and 0417776102
Also check out his website http://www.paulstevensentertains.co.uk/
The original ASG story on Paul Stevens career, including the video of his appearance on Fox Sports Golf Show is here