Roderick Easdale recounts some infamous player caddie falling outs
Caddie player bust ups are not rare. Robert Allenby arguing with his caddie and sacking him mid round is just an everyday story of tour folk.
Some players are easier to caddy for than others. Seve Ballesteros was one who was notoriously hard to please.
Ballesteros is one of several golfers to have had his caddie walk out on him during a round. In his case Martin Gray who, after an argument at the 15th hole of their round in the Spanish Open of 1997 over Seve hitting his ball into a water hazard, walked off the course leaving Ballesteros’ 16-year-old nephew to carry the bag for the rest of the round.
Gray had survived for 12 months as Seve’s caddy – not too shabby when the previous 12 months had seen the Spaniard get through three caddies – but he had an inkling his time was coming to an end two weeks before, in Dubai.
One version of this caddie player bust up has Seve asking his caddy for an apple, and then throwing it away after one bite claiming it was too soft. Another version says that he had merely asked for some fruit and had first rejected an orange as “too bitter” a banana as “too brown” before the apple also failed to find favour.
Both versions finish with Gray snapping back: “What am I – a caddie or a greengrocer?”
This came at a time when Seve was being sued by a former caddie for breach of contract after Seve had sacked him six weeks into their working relationship. The caddie claimed he had been offered a year’s work. Seve in turn tried to get the caddie banned from the Tour.
Nick De Paul, an American, caddied for Seve in the 1995 Ryder Cup. He recalls the singles match, which Seve halved with Tom Kite: “It was so intense. If I was half a club out I’d get it in the neck. Afterwards I went straight to the bar, asked for aspirin and laid on a bench for an hour. I was ready to keel over. He gives you a headache – he’s the type of guy who wears out a caddie.”
Tiger Woods was more lenient towards his caddy in the Ryder Cup singles of 2006. Woods’ caddy Steve Williams slipped while cleaning Woods’ 9-iron on the 7th hole and dropped the club into a lake.
Woods merely laughed when Williams confessed what he had just done. The club was later retrieved by a diver, and handed back to Woods on the 15th.
Some caddies and players have their disagreements but remain together. An example of this was Neil Coles, who for many years had Arthur Maidment on his bag.
A bust up at Sunningdale between the two is still talked of. Coles reckoned what he needed to get out of heather and onto the green was his 4-wood. Maidment disagreed and refused to give him this club.
So Coles took it from the bag, whereupon Maidment grabbed it. Coles was now holding the club head, and Maidment its grip. They then had a tug of war over possession of the club. Coles won both the tug of war and the argument when he hit the 4-wood shot to within four feet of the hole.
At least Maidment had an opinion. Gordon J. Brand, about to play the 71st hole of the Madrid Open of 1983 was vying with Sandy Lyle for the title. The 17th was 193 yards into a stiff breeze. Brand turned to his caddy and asked what club he should use.
“Take what you like, I’ve got them all here,” came the reply.
Brand selected a 4-iron, flew the green and finished two shots adrift of Lyle.