Would you choose your best friend over a professional caddie?

The Scoop

Alex Perry and Mark Townsend discuss in this week's Alternate Shot

There has been a bit of chatter on Twitter in recent days over the role of the friend caddie vs. the professional caddie.

Coach and Sky analyst Nick Bradley had this to say:

It warranted quite the response, including from Tommy Fleetwood, whose caddie is also his best mate Ian Finnis:

Eddie Pepperell, whose right-hand man is legendary European Tour caddie Mick Doran, waded in:

(There were more on this from Eddie, but this is a family website.)

So, we asked two of our writers: Would you have a friend as a caddie?

Yes, says Alex Perry

I can’t think of anything better than being a tour golfer. Then throw your best mate into that fantasy.

Touring the world with your closest ally, tearing up the best and most beautiful courses on the planet, and picking up a few million quid along the way? Yeah, that’s the life for me.

As kids, my closest friends and I didn’t dream of being footballers, or rock stars, or Hollywood actors. We dreamed of being golfers. (And then footballers, rock stars and Hollywood actors.)

Now if that dream were to become true for me, I’d want my pals right there alongside me. And I’d expect them to feel the same about me.

Players of McIlroy’s ability shouldn’t need someone to hold their hand through a tournament. They need someone to give them the information they need and hand them the right club.

But it’s their job, I hear you cry, they should have someone who is going to get the best out of them on the course. Well who are you to say that that person is a professional caddie?

I’m not trying to kill the caddie trade here – whatever works for you as a golfer and if I was a professional I would do whatever’s best for my game.

But having my best mate on the bag and living the dream like Tommy and Fino would be right up my street…

No, says Mark Townsend

Earlier this year I spoke to Mick Doran who currently caddies for Eddie Pepperell and has 35 tour wins to his name.

When Pepperell won in Qatar in February, Doran’s input was fascinating. At the 15th, after a drive pushed into the rocks, Doran talked Pepperell out of trying anything spectacular and the Englishman pitched his second back onto the fairway. He made a bogey and Oli Fisher pulled a shot back, but it was nothing worse than that.

At the almost drivable 16th Pepperell took back the reins, hit an iron, wedged on and made birdie.

Then at the last Pepperell hit a very conservative drive, a badly mishit lay-up and then Doran took over. He read the lie, his player, the wind and the situation perfectly. The wedge brought the bunker into play, the 9 didn’t.

Pepperell listened to his right-hand man, made par and won his first tournament.

When I spoke to Doran he was quite open about the newish concept of having your mate on the bag.

Look at Rory McIlroy in Dubai recently; he carved it right at the 16th and he has got no shot whatsoever, the pin is back left and he has got a tree in front of him. He’s in the sand and he’s got a lump of sand behind the ball so he can’t cut it so he’s only going to be able to hit it straight left which he did. A strong caddie would just say just chip out and rely on your short game. He made a good bogey in the end but he could have made a par.

Doran, who also has seven Ryder Cups on his CV, conceded that, given the high standard of the modern-day yardage books, anyone can caddie these days but that you can’t beat years and years of experience and know-how. When the occasion arises and you’re twitching away over every shot you need a strong voice by your side.

That’s all part of the job isn’t it? If I’m not happy with what a player’s doing then I let him know though I’m not going to push it on them. I like to say what I think and that might get you in trouble but that’s all part of it. It’s all common sense.

I personally wouldn’t have a close friend as my right-hand man as I know them too well and I would be able to judge from their tone or facial tics if there was any sort of doubt over what I was about to do.

Then again if my best mate was Ian Finnis, who is probably much nicer than all my mates put together and also a professional golfer, then that would seem a pretty straightforward move. When he and Tommy Fleetwood started out there were plenty of doubters, there aren’t any more.

For me though I’d go old school; tell me what to do, lead my by the hand and hopefully stop me being such a terrified golfer.

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