Pin Sheets

December 19, 2008

PGA TOUR Players are very gifted athletes.  But, the secret to their game is ball control.  Every player I have worked for could hit just about any club in the bag to within a few feet of their intended target when they swung the way they wanted to. That could mean a three-quarter five iron that goes 183 or a full out one to land at 202 or any number in between.

So, giving the player the most precise yardage on any given shot is extremely important.  This is why we have pin sheets.  When used in conjunction with a yardage book, a caddie can give his player the detailed kind of information he needs to execute a successful shot.

A pin sheet has four important components:  Hole number, green depth, pin depth from the front of the green and pin relation to the closest side of the green.  After the round, the used sheet looks like this:


When put all together, you can retrieve numbers to the pin, carry over bunkers or humps, room (number of yards) behind the pin, where to place the shot for the best putt, etc.  I just wish I had these when I play!

Nike Tour – Just Do It

December 2, 2008

March 1994

I loaded up my 1988 1/2 (the 1/2 makes all the difference for this beauty!) Ford Escort early Monday morning in preparation for my drive to Lafayette, Louisiana for the Nike Tour golf tourney.  This was to be my first taste as an actual caddie, since all my time growing up was spent playing the game.  The only other time I had carried a bag for someone else was a few years before when my father played with Tom Watson in the Wednesday Pro-Am at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.   Even then, the weather shortened the event to nine holes and my sister was supplying me with copious cups of mildly cold draft beer.  That experience, while fun, could hardly be considered a true caddie event.

The two most important items I felt necessary for the trip were my Rand McNally Atlas and my almost-to-the-limit credit card.  With these in hand, I maneuvered my four-speed stick, 70 horsepower, no cruise control, bright red Escort to the freeway, headed south.

16 hours and 8 cups of coffee later I arrived at the hotel in Lafayette.  Chris put me up for the week in his room, before he knew I could snore up a storm.  I think I actually slept in the bathtub one night after getting hit by a shoe in the middle of the night.  I vowed to have my own hotel room the next week.

On Tuesday morning, I met Lee Rinker, a good buddy of Chris’ and Assistant Pro at Muirfield Village GC in Dublin, OH.  Chris and Lee would stay together often to save on expenses.  I had heard stories about how Chris wasn’t very talkative to other players and appeared to come off a little cold in the charisma department.  It is true he wouldn’t say much to anyone on tournament days, but I would learn that was borne from his intense focus of the job at hand.  “I’m not here to make friends, Carl,” he would say.  If fact, if we drove to the course together, he might not say “Good morning.”  I quickly realized he was already going over his mental game plan; His nose wouldn’t come out of the yardage book until the day was done.

But, today was Tuesday, a day for practice rounds and range rats.  Chris was relaxed and happy to be at Le Triomphe Country Club and was yucking it up with his pal, Lee.  What happened next changed any preconceived notions I had about his personality, or lack of…

The tee area for the practice range was long, wide and straight.  Almost half the field could hit balls at the same time, if need be.  Behind the tee, many yards away, stood a row of blue plastic port-a-potties, fifteen strong.  I would come to learn how good a set up it was to have a nearby place to to take care of business as caddies were never allowed in the clubhouses on Tour.

In fact, the stalls were so prominent, it reminded Lee of a story.

Apparently, a few years before (already starting to sound like an urban legend-type story), early in the morning at the US Open, the volunteer marshals were arriving to the course to take their positions for the days’ event.  Since it was so early, the marshals and the grounds crew were the only people milling about, otherwise the course was empty.  One of the marshals happened to be a little larger than most and after his morning coffee he needed a quiet place to relieve himself.  He was ecstatic to find a port-a-potty on his station hole behind the tee.  What he failed to notice is what made the story.

The john had been placed on a slight incline, with the front door higher then the back side.  For most people, this would not have made a bit of difference, but like I said, he was a big guy.  So, when he stepped in, turned and sat down, the whole unit tipped over backwards sending its contents of blue liquid and waste swimming over and around the gentleman and his previously clean white shirt!

Now, if that wasn’t bad enough, add this log to the fire.  He couldn’t get out.

When the potty tipped backwards, the marshal became wedged in the enclosure and could not pull himself up.  So, he meekly called for help, but since it was so early, no one was around.  That poor man laid in a pool of blue liquid and foulness for at least an hour before he was found.

Six men tried to pull him loose… To no avail.  They finally had to call someone from the TV broadcast company to see if they could reposition one of the camera cranes to help lift the potty upright and release him.  Now that’s what I call a bad start to a day!

We all laughed so hard during the story, we thought we would wet our pants.  This caused Lee to have to use one of the fifteen potties behind the range.

“Be careful in there!”, I called after him.

“I’ll never have a problem in a port-a-potty!”, he cooed back and trotted the 60 or so yards to his objective.

Chris’ ears perked up when he heard what Lee had said and turned to me and smiled.

“Let’s see if that’s true.”

With that, Chris pulled his two-iron from the bag, dropped a practice ball and turned 180 degrees around to take dead aim at the door of Lee’s stall.  I laughed, “Yeah, right.  You can’t hit it from here!”

“Watch this. One ball.”  Chris swung and blazed a waist-high punch shot that connected squarely in the center of Lee’s door with a resounding Thwap! that brought the entire range to a halt.  As everyone looked on, Lee staggered from the unit with his shirt partially untucked and a bit of dribble on his pants.  The look on his face was priceless as Chris prodded, “No problems in a port-a-potty, huh?”

That was my first hour on my new job.