August 3, 2001
Michael Carrick is the president of the Professional Tour Caddies Association, and until recently was a long-time looper for Tom Kite. It crossed his mind to write what he calls “the first strategic book on golf written by a Tour caddie.”
The result was Caddie Sense: Revelations of a PGA Tour Caddie on Playing the Game of Golf, (St. Martin’s Press, $22.95 SRP).
Carrick suggests readers should “[t]hink of this book as if it were your own personal caddie.”
If so, I would have said “Thanks very much” after the first round, and ended the relationship.
In fact, unless golfers reading Caddie Sense are relative novices to the sport, this slim volume is likely to disappoint them.
It’s a shame, because the idea behind the book is more enticing than this effort produced. One would think that Tour caddies could provide a unique perspective on the game and the professionals for whom they work. Unfortunately, much of the territory Caddie Sense covers is readily available elsewhere.
I don’t think it was for lack of trying. Carrick starts with Kite’s final round in the 1992 U.S. Open, his only major victory. While the win was obviously a great triumph for the player and his caddie, Carrick’s story-telling reminded me why we have a rule around our house. I can describe how I played a single hole in that day’s round, and will lose my audience of non-golfers if I go beyond that limit.
Carrick’s prose is most authentic and unforced in the sections dealing with his own history, and how caddies first came to become a major part of the sport. His description of the significant differences between the responsibilities of the relatively rare club caddies and those who work on the Tours is actually very good. It’s also clear that Carrick feels deeply about the benefits of caddying for young golfers.
In addition, Carrick brings a strong dose of reality to his discussion of the benefits and costs of working in this odd little profession. For all the ink spilled about a few well-known, well-paid Tour caddies, there are hundreds of others who scrape by in a nomadic existence, with little security and an uncertain future. This part of the book will pop the balloons of many cubicle inmates day-dreaming about caddying for a living.
The most disappointing segments to me, however, were those trying to teach course management. For novice golfers with less than two years’ experience, these segments should be somewhat helpful. For experienced players who regularly read the golf magazines, however, the advice will be familiar–very familiar.
At times Carrick is fairly funny when he writes about the abysmal playing deficiencies he sees on display during pro-ams. On the other hand, his course strategy prescriptions are often beyond the capacities of those who would benefit most from his instruction.
For example, not too many high-handicappers would really be comfortable with being told to hit a comfortable draw on a dogleg left. These golfers have enough trouble hitting it straight.
They need to know they should only try to reach the opening of the dogleg, even if that means dropping down to a 3- or 5-wood. Carrick eventually makes that sort of point, but it’s lost among his advice to better players, who should already know this in any event.
Readers looking for a relatively superficial treatment of the life of a Tour caddie and a very basic book on course strategy will not be disappointed with Caddie Sense. Others will wish the book could have gone beyond those two modest goals.