Until just the other day I don’t think I have ever caddied for another golfer. As a professional on tour I have met and played with many amateurs during pro-ams and given tons of advice as to the line of a putt, what club to use, where to aim on the green, how to play a particular shot etc, but can this be regarded as being the same as caddying for one of your own students? Not a chance!
A responsible coach gets to know his students’ personalities, their goals, their dreams and other personal traits and habits. This allows the coach to better understand why they do certain things. I have on many occasions walked with the KeNako students, both during practice rounds and at tournaments. I’m interested in their performances but it also allows me to observe them from an analytical perspective to see if they are able to apply the skills that they are learning during their time at KeNako. It is relatively easy to see if their techniques are holding up under pressure and what their short game skills are like. Even if I don’t get to see all of the students during the course of a tournament I do have a look at their stat cards, but it is quite frustrating to not know how they go about their decision making related to course management and how they apply their mental skills which are relatively simple and yet so difficult to master.
With this in mind I asked one of the KeNako students if I could caddie for him in the second round of a recent tournament held at the wonderful Oubaai Golf Resort. My objective was to get a more intimate feel for his course management, see and hear his decision making, listen to his comments and perhaps give him an alternative if the need arose. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience because it was fantastic to watch a talented youngster play good golf but more importantly to see and hear how he applied the skills he has learnt at KeNako. He shot an even par round of 72 which was the worst he could have done given the quality of his golf. Having been his caddie for the round and with my experience as a tour player, I was able to explain to him what he needed to work on and change if he wanted to shave 3, 4 or even 5 shots off a round like the one he had just played. Great players do the basics well and make things simple and efficient.
As all golfers well know, improving one’s score is no easy task. It takes hours, days, weeks and years to become proficient at this wonderful game. It is unlikely that Justin Rose’s caddie would have helped him with his golf skills this past week, but he would have helped Justin with his course management and he must surely have enjoyed being the intimate spectator who was able to watch Justin win his first US Open.