Un­der­cover Tour Pro

What if we had to play with­out cad­dies?

Golf Digest (Malaysia) - - Contents 09/17 - BY MAX ADLER

What if we had to play with­out cad­dies?

Some play­ers were shar­ing beers the other week—it was a Tuesday night, and all of us ei­ther had late tee times in the Wednesday pro-am or weren’t play­ing— when an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion came up: What would the World Rank­ing look like if we had to carry our bags? No cad­dies. Like go­ing back to col­lege golf. ▶ Staff bags, ob­vi­ously, would go away. It’d be ridicu­lous for any­one to com­pete while lug­ging one of those 40-pound leather be­he­moths. Com­pa­nies would have to be con­tent with get­ting their lo­gos stitched on nor­mal stand bags. A lot of play­ers, es­pe­cially those with nag­ging in­juries, would opt for the ex­tra-light­weight Sun­day bag, even if the smaller real es­tate meant for­feit­ing spon­sor­ship dol­lars. All but the fittest guys would be wor­ried about get­ting worn out.

But a slightly ratch­eted phys­i­cal chal­lenge is the least in­trigu­ing as­pect. What the premise re­ally gets at is, who re­lies on his guy the most? Take away the sup­port blan­ket, make us each go out there alone—like 98 per­cent of ev­ery­day golfers do—and who would crum­ble?

At the top of the rank­ings, Dustin John­son wouldn’t budge. Sure, he en­joys hav­ing his brother, AJ, on the bag for com­pan­ion­ship, but AJ has never saved DJ a shot. Rory McIl­roy would be fine alone. Steve Wil­liams would tell you dif­fer­ent, but Adam Scott would be the same player.

I’m not sure Ja­son Day would hold up. It’s not like he lis­tens to Col (Colin Swat­ton) that much for shot selec­tion, but their re­la­tion­ship is deep, like fa­ther and son, that Col’s ab­sence might re­ally af­fect him. I could see Jor­dan Spi­eth dropping. His guy, Michael Greller, has more in­put per shot than just about any cad­die out here. Get paired with them, and it’s a lot to lis­ten to— though Greller knows how to say the right thing at just the right time to keep Jor­dan in a good frame of mind. Phil Mick­el­son and Bones (Jim Mackay) talk through shots maybe too thor­oughly, but I give Phil credit for be­ing quick over the ball. When the con­ver­sa­tion is done, he steps in and hits. As much as their re­la­tion­ship gar­ners at­ten­tion, Phil doesn’t need Bones. Phil would go on be­ing Phil.

Pat Perez might not keep his card. Pat’s a friend, and I love that he’s been play­ing awe­some, but I think he’d be quick to ad­mit that he couldn’t func­tion with­out H (Michael Hart­ford). Those two have known each other for nearly three decades, and they have zero back and forth. If H says it’s a three-quar­ter 6-iron, Pat hits the shot right away. Never con­sid­ers hit­ting a full 7.

Sev­eral re­ally tal­ented young play­ers sim­ply need a lot of re­in­force­ment. If they’re not told what they’re do­ing is right, they can’t pull the trig­ger. Kee­gan Bradley and Bren­dan Steele are two guys who would need to se­ri­ously read­just. Kevin Na re­lies on Kenny Harms a lot. Paul Casey needs Johnny Long Socks (John McLaren), and he knows it.

With­out cad­dies, the more au­ton­o­mous play­ers would rise, but the over­all cal­iber of golf would slip. Mod­ern scor­ing is owed partly to the fact cad­dieing is a much more se­ri­ous busi­ness than 15 years ago. It has be­come a six-fig­ure job that at­tracts peo­ple who would oth­er­wise be mak­ing that much in other fields. Good cad­dies are blending sta­tis­tics, psy­chol­ogy, nu­tri­tion and man­age­rial skills to give their man any edge in a ridicu­lously com­pet­i­tive arena.

I’m not sure I’d stay in the top 100. My cad­die has been on the PGA Tour longer than I have, and I lean on him a ton. He saves me on reads, but more im­por­tant, I can get ir­ri­tated by the road’s lit­tle prob­lems. My 3-wood needs work at the equip­ment trailer or the keys to the car are lost—my guy han­dles stuff like this so I can fo­cus on golf.

Then again, there are play­ers who’d be bet­ter off solo. Their cad­dies try too hard.

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