7 Most Underrated Caddies in Golf

Robert Hartman@@RobertHartman20Correspondent IAugust 30, 2012

7 Most Underrated Caddies in Golf

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    Not too long ago the debate of who's your caddie was taking over the headlines.  

    Stevie Williams was fired by Tiger Woods, then hired by Adam Scott.  Joe LaCava was once the mastermind behind Fred Couples and resurfaced to became the straw for the Dustin Johnson rise to fame.  Then, LaCaca decides to leave Johnson for a less rigorous schedule and tote the bag of Tiger Woods.  

    Confused?  Don't be, because caddie du jour is the norm on the PGA Tour.  Security inside the ropes is fleeting with each tournament.

    Consider the decision made by a recent winner on the PGA Tour.  Sergio Garcia just drove his courtesy car into the parking lot of the Wyndham Championship, and at the Barclay's and said, "You doing anything this week?"  He decided to grab a looper at the event.  

    He departed ways with Gary Matthews, his longtime caddie at the PGA Championship, after he missed the cut.  For Garcia, maybe the results are telling.  He won at the rain-bedeviled Wyndham Championship with amateur caddie, David Faircloth.  Faircloth was recommended by a player in the pro-am.  And, this past week his caddie was a former CBS spotter, Wayne Richardson.  He finished first and second in back to back weeks with two caddies with no experience.

    What's next?

    If Garcia's path to finding a caddie is a sledgehammer to the profession, think again.  Behind every great player is a yardage specialist, a sports psychologist, a course management superstar that is underrated.

    A photographer at a wedding, the PA announcer at a major league baseball game, and a caddie on the PGA Tour.  Sometimes life's calling is about not being noticed.  The essence of their work is about doing an excellent job, ingratiating themselves to the primary subjects, but finding a way to sit behind the veiled curtain.

    Success is defined by results, not their own, but from the player's they represent.

    The wholesome truth becomes so apparent when they stay out of the limelight and success is often daunting, fleeting and lonely.

    Here is a look at some of the caddies in golf that deserve more credit than they get.

7. Kevin Baile (Jason Duffner)

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    Many players don't realize what they have until they don't have it.  Like if they leave their favorite wedge in the hotel and are strapped to play without it.

    Or, when they don't have their caddie, because they're sick.  That is what happened to Jason Duffner at Kiawah.  Kevin Baile, his normal looper, fell sick and Duffner was forced to recruit the services of Gary Matthews, Sergio Garcia's caddie.  

    The addition of Matthews turned into a player who had to call two strokes on himself after his ball moved in the third round.  Duffner was on the fringe of the leaderboard, but he quickly retreated into a never-to-be-heard -from again spot on the chart.

    Duffner realized the importance of Baile and Sergio realized that Matthews was not the answer to his success.

6. Steve "Pepsi" Hale (Keegan Bradley)

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    Steve "Pepsi" Hale gets the importance of being prepared.  And, he has steered and veered Keegan Bradley down a narrow path of success since the two have been paired.  

    Finding the right caddie is a lot like finding your favorite soft drink.  Their are some flavors that are not suited for certain palates.  This match seems to work.  Pepsi for Keegan and the results are on the, burp, leaderboard.

5. Paul Tesori (Webb Simpson)

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    Paul Tesori and Webb Simpson share a rare common denominator.  They both have a tremendous amount of faith.  This is what brought them together and proves to be their recipe for success.  

    Looking at the results, Tesori has been instrumental in Simpson becoming a machine of consistency. He has gone from wannabe, to major winner and future contender in less than 18-months.  Tesori leads by providing the encouragement to a player that has moderate skills and off-the-chart demeanor for the game.

4. John McClaren (Luke Donald)

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    The reason Luke Donald has not won a major is not because of his caddie.  John McClaren knows how to point his player in the right direction when it comes to course management. McClaren can best be summed up on the PGA Tour as one of the best.

    Donald floundered early in his career having teamed with his brother Christian.  It was an experiment that both finally realized was not working out.  When McClaren grabbed Donald's golf bag, good things started happening.

3. Jim "Bones" Mackay (Phil Mickelson)

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    Jim Mackay is a hard worker that does not take his working relationship with Phil Mickelson for granted.  A great tactician and yardage guru, Mackay is often spotted doing overtime duty before an event to make sure all the angles are covered for his player.  

    He has the ability to rein Mickelson in, (except for the blunder at Winged Foot) when the left-hander gets ahead of himself.  They have a relationship that dates back to Mickelson's rookie year, when Mackay left the bag of Scott Simpson to take on the heralded amateur from San Diego.

2. Steve Duplantis (Rich Beem, and Others)

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    Steve Duplantis died in 2008  after a successful run as a premium caddie on the PGA Tour. His work with Rich Beem Beem's victory at the Kemper Open in 1999 was called one of the all-time best efforts by a caddie in history.

    He had a rock star persona in caddie circles and had a knack for getting the most out of the players for which he worked.  Writer Alan Shipnuck chronicled many of his off-the-fairway travails in the book "Blood, Sweat and Tees."

1. Carl Spackler

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    Okay, he was really the assistant greenskeeper, but he did loop, at least once for the Dalai Lama in Tibet.  Anyone that once looped for the Dali Lama, is underrated.  And, Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) represented those aspirations of every caddie.  He will be forever etched in our minds as a hybrid, not grass, but hybrid as in caddie/greenskeeper/player.

    Long live Carl Spackler.  Danny Noonan achieved a nod for the top 7 as well.