Caddie Confidential — Trust factor key at new US Open venue – ESPN
Collins: You’ve been here a few days now and been around this place enough to give me your honest opinion of the golf course.
Caddie: I actually really like the golf course. I wasn’t sure that I would walking around it the first time … but the more I see it, the more I like it. I think they’ve done a really good job as far as being generous with the fairways, and I really like seeing a par-72 U.S. Open.
Collins: Why does that make a big difference?
Caddie: Because I think in the past, there have been golf courses where they change a par-5 into a par-4 just to make it a par 70. That doesn’t make it a good hole, because that hole was designed and built to be a par-5. So the green was built to accept short clubs into the hole. Not a 500-yard, par-4 [with a green] to receive 3-irons and 4-irons. But I really like the way the course is setup.
Collins: What was it about the course that gave you “pause” when you first saw it?
Caddie: I just wasn’t sure what we were gonna get. Seeing the knee-high fescue and how thick it was. But then you look at (the course) and the fairways are plenty wide, almost double the size of a normal U.S. Open fairway, which I think is very fair.
Collins: What will be the biggest challenge for the caddie this week during the round?
Caddie: The front nine is pretty much straight forward. You can see everything. When you get to the back nine, there’s several blind tee shots. So picking lines off tees and convincing your player to “trust that line” will be big. Preaching patience on the par-5s to maybe not go for it if you can get there [in two], but layup.
On [No.] 15, the really short par-4, I don’t like going for it. I think laying up short in the fairway and having four wedges as opposed to trying to go for it, I think you’re much better off. This is the one tournament of the year where you really can’t go wrong being conservative! It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Strategy and patience are a huge deal at a U.S. Open. I think sometimes the more aggressive you are, [the more] it can go against you.
Collins: How much more difficult is it to get your player to trust you during a major compared with a normal tournament?
Caddie: I think at this major, it’s not a golf course we see every year, whereas at other tournaments, guys are creatures of habit; they play the same golf tournaments on the same golf courses every year. They already know the golf course when they get there. Where here they’re cramming all in two, three, or four days before the [start] of the event so they’re not as familiar with the golf course. For them to trust a line off a tee or trust a place to miss it on the green or around the green, it’s a little harder for them, because they’re not as familiar with the golf course as they would be at a normal golf tournament.
Collins: What was it like trying to find housing for this week?
Caddie: This one was hard. We’re staying at a rental house. I didn’t book it, so I don’t know who we booked it through. But this one was a little bit tougher because of the location, out in the middle of nowhere. It’s not in a city center or in an area with a ton of neighborhoods. … This one, I think, is a minimum 15-20 [minute] drive for anyone. It’s tough.
Collins: Is the USGA good to the caddies as far as parking and facilities?
Caddies: It’s been really good. The parking’s good, it’s a short walk. The USGA does a pretty good job. They have the wellness center for us where we [get] chiropractic work, or massage work, or just basic physical therapy because our bodies break down, too, carrying that bag. Probably more so than a players’ does. This is the one tournament a year where we get treated like, “Hey, you guys are important, too. … We need to make sure you’re taken care of.” They do such a good job at doing that every year.
Collins: Was gonna ask about the wellness center. They have a Hyperbaric chamber.
Caddie: Which I’m about to go get into!
Collins: So on a week like this, on a brutal course to walk like this, how important is this service the USGA provides for the caddies?
Caddie: Very important. Very important. Underestimated for sure and not valued enough. I’m in there every day getting something. Whether it’s an adjustment from a chiropractor, or getting in the chamber, getting a massage on my neck or my shoulder, my feet or my calves. Just basic physical therapy, getting stretched. You know that basic stuff can really help you get through the week with less pain.
Collins: Hardest hole for the caddie to walk this week?
Caddie: [Long pause as he thinks it over] The entire back nine is pretty tough. The hill going up 12 [is] pretty steep. The hill going up [No.] 8 off the tee when you go down low and then you go straight back up a really steep hill. From 14 green to 15 tee … there’s some tough walks, but [pauses to figure out how to say the next thing] … I mean, it’s the U.S. Open. The purse we’re playing for [$12 million] is unprecedented, so I’ll take it [the walk]! I’ll take it every week. [Laughs]