37: The Substitute Caddie

37: The Substitute Caddie

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

The Substitute Caddie

They throw their clubs backwards, and that’s wrong. You should always throw a club ahead of you so that you don’t have to walk any extra distance to get it.

~Tommy Bolt, about the tempers of modern players

An unusual experience occurred at the L.A. Open, where I came out of retirement from my previous job to caddie. My husband Tom Lehman’s longtime caddie, Andrew Martinez, was injured the night before the tournament, and Tom asked me to fill in. I agreed under the condition that I did not have to carry Tom’s TaylorMade tour bag, which is huge. We struck a deal, and they got me a much smaller bag.

My first duty as caddie was to meet Tom on the driving range so he could warm up before his round. Other players and caddies were stunned to see me. I proceeded with my job like any other caddie—marking balls, cleaning his clubs and getting the towel wet.

Things went smoothly, and Tom played okay, but the whispers and comments from the gallery as I passed by were amusing. The only rather tense moment came on Sunday on the sixteenth hole. Tom had been having a very, let’s say, trying day as far as golf. But I was proud of him because his temper was under control.

When Tom three-putted for bogey, I noticed his putter in mid-air, sailing into the middle of the pond. The crowd gasped and looked at me for my reaction. I just smiled and walked with Tom to the next tee.

As we walked, I whispered to him, “That’s fine. At least you didn’t swear. But now I get to pick which club you’ll be putting with on the last two holes.”

Tom went along with it.

The seventeenth hole started with a drive down the middle, and his second shot landed just over the green. He proceeded to hit a sand wedge and left the ball six inches from the cup. I told him to putt out with the same club, and the crowd loved it. Especially when he made it.

The eighteenth hole, a par-5, started with Tom’s driver straight down the middle, and his second shot got him in position for an easy approach. I handed him the wedge that had just served as his putter. He almost holed it (that would have eliminated the putting problems), the ball rolling to six feet.

Just for effect, I handed him his driver. After the crowd figured out that he didn’t have a putter anymore, they were all eagerly awaiting a birdie with the driver. He missed it. But ending on two pars was not such a difficult lesson to learn.

~Melissa Lehman
Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul

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