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I’m walking down the 11th hole at Hillside Golf Club trying to figure out what to say to my player after his drive found the hazard off the tee... It’s okay, forget about it. Onto the next shot. Head up. Or do I just walk along in silence? My player wasn't happy with where his drive went, and this one mistake was followed by another.
The 11th hole is a par 5 and having just taken a drop I was suggesting going for the green, there’s plenty of room up there, he measured the distance and pulled out his 3-wood, he was set on it being 265 yards. As the caddy I should have measured the distance as well, but I didn’t, and we ended up losing that ball. I felt terrible. It’s the last thing you want your player to have to go through. This one hole from 36 could have just cost him his chance at making the play-offs.
From this mistake I learnt the number one rule of caddying, always double check everything before letting your player hit.
The British Amateur Championship was happening at Hillside Golf club and Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club in the Northwest of England. It was a field of 288 players from all over the world who would be whittled down to one winner. Half of the players would play Hillside on day one and the other half would play Southport & Ainsdale. They would then switch the following day. The field would then be cut to just 64 players who battle it out in match play format for the remainder of the week.
I was fortunate to have a friend of mine competing in the event who asked if I would like to caddy for him. Of course I said yes.
I was caddying for one of England's top players, Robert Holden, a rising star in the game of golf. His first round was at Hillside and as I was on the bag, I was given a special players guest pass which granted me access to the course and clubhouse.
The setup at Hillside was phenomenal, flags were raised for every nation taking part, there was a spectators village but the best part was seeing the caddy bibs hanging up. They had one ready for every player just in case.
We couldn’t have asked for a better day for golf, the sun was out and the wind was down, perfect conditions to go low, which one player from the South African team did, shooting a staggering 8-under. It was a different story for me and my player. We were the last group to tee off for round one and Robert played some excellent golf however we've all had rounds where we couldn’t score and this is what my player was battling against the whole day. Robert finished the day 4-over par.
As the caddy it was my job to clean the clubs, carry the bag and talk through any shots Robert was unsure of or wanted help on, so yes, I did feel some pressure because you want the best for your player. After our hiccup on hole 11 I really felt for Robert and was just trying to think what's the best way we can bounce back from this, should I say anything or just keep quiet.
You take a lot of heat as the caddy, if your player didn't quite do as well as they wanted or if they hit some poor shots you are the first person who has to deal with their frustration and anger. It's never directed at you and so you have to have tough skin to not let things get to you. I found It best to just let my guy say what he needed to say, get it off his chest and move on.
Robert managed to follow that nightmare with a couple of back-to-back birdies, which definitely softened the blow, and he continued to stick the ball close to the flag, setting up even more birdie opportunities. Despite the end result it was really great to see Robert playing some really good golf and making the birdies he deserved.
Round one drew to a close and once I returned the caddy bib and Robert submitted his scores, we headed straight to the putting green. We weren’t in a terrible position, however, we knew we had a lot of work to do on day two. I wasn't feeling too much pressure because after all, I am not the one swinging the club, that all comes down to Robert. I was simply hoping he could pull off a round of a lifetime the next day.
For day two, we were playing at Southport & Ainsdale. The set up wasn’t quite the same as it was at Hillside but I believe that is because Hillside was the Home of the Championship for 2023. For me, I could see the caddy bibs, so I was happy. For Robert, it was a different story. He knew what he had to do, I knew what he had to do.
Today was about trying to go low, keeping the mistakes off the scorecard was essential so I doubled down on my efforts to help my player. This involved running up the fairways on blind approach shots, working out distances and lines to approach the green from and sometimes even helping read the green. I found this often best to be left to the player because they know how they putt better than anyone but sometimes they want reassurance on the line.
This day I definitely felt like I was doing more than I had done during round one. I was rooting for Robert to go low, we were discussing shots, fist bumping after good ones. It was exciting.
We had a much better round two with Robert shooting a level par score but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough to make the cut. I went into the clubhouse with my player where we then had lunch and just let the disappointment sink in.
It was an incredible experience to caddy in an event like this, and I highly recommend it if you get the chance. If not, just make an appearance to come and watch these players, it is a different game and you might be able to learn a thing or two.
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Monty is an upcoming golf journalist having completed his Multimedia Journalism degree at Bournemouth University; where he was also apart of the University’s well renowned golf team. He has had a passion for golf ever since he picked up a club at 12 years old and this love for the sport only grew stronger over time as his game developed and he pursued golf through different avenues. His game took him over to the United States on a golf scholarship and has had him travelling the UK to take part in competitions like the Nick Faldo series and general club scratch matches. Monty worked on ‘The Open’ radio team when it was hosted at Royal St George’s getting to walk inside the ropes with some of the top players like Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and of course that year's winner - Collin Morikawa. Monty has been lucky enough to have three holes-in-one in his short golfing career and he looks to continue growing that number. Monty believes the ability to continue playing golf well lies in his dedication to keeping fit through his other passion, which is CrossFit.
What’s in the bag:
Driver: Srixon Z 765
3 wood: Taylormade AreoBurner
2 iron: Srixon Z U65
Irons: Srixon Z765
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM6 (50°,54°,58°)
Putter: Odyssey White Hot Nano 7
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