Jason Palmer is best known as the one-handed chipper who qualified for the US Open. Now he's back on the European Tour but in a different guise
When I interviewed Jason Palmer several years ago he delivered one of my favourite quotes of all time: “I was a hazard to my fellow golfers – if I did practise it would always be in solitude.”
Palmer got the chipping yips particularly chronically in the early part of 2010, by 2015 he had played himself onto the European Tour – his chipping concerns were solved by going one-handed. In the middle of that year he qualified for the US Open but he would only play one more competitive round following Chambers Bay due to persistent wrist problems.
Now he’s back on the European Tour – but it’s with Chris Paisley’s bag on his back…
“It was a bit of a shock really as I had moved down to London to get involved in the bookmaking side of things for Metric Gaming and I was happy doing that for just over a year. I was in the office when I got a text from Chris who said he was thinking of changing caddie and would I be interested?
It was totally out of the blue, I think I knew straightaway that I wanted to do it but did I want to get back into the whole lifestyle of being away so much? The positives easily outweighed all the negatives and so I said sign me up.”
“As a caddie you’re not in control but in a way you are as your input is crucial. If you say the wrong thing at the wrong time then that could lead to a disastrous shot. The flip side is you say the correct thing at the right time and that can save shots.
“I was quite limited in my ball-striking ability as a player, I was quite straight and quite short and I couldn’t hit high, spinning shots but I could play to my strengths and play the percentages well. I was good at not wasting shots. My role model is Jim Furyk, everyone could learn a lot from watching him.”
— Chris Paisley (@ChrisPaisley86) September 23, 2019
“As a player I don’t know if I was being pig-headed but I wanted nothing from my caddie. I just wanted a bag carrier and someone I could talk to and have a laugh with.
“I never had one before getting on the European Tour so I had five years without one and then had to have one. If it wasn’t compulsory I don’t think I would have had one.
“Chris is very switched on to his own game but likes some input. There are always certain points where there is some indecision over a club or a putt, he doesn’t bring me in very often on the greens but he can trust that what I say is my best interpretation of the situation at that time.
“We’ll both do yardages and discuss the club together, 95 per cent of the time it is only going to be one club as his yardages are very dialled in, the other five per cent we will discuss the various factors. Basically I want him to swing without any doubts.
“Around the green I will have very little input, that’s a big strength of his game and it’s best to let him get on with it. It’s been awesome to watch some of the shots that he plays.”
“One of the most rewarding moments was a read in Denmark on the final hole in the first round. Chris brought me in as he was a bit unsure and I called it spot on; left to right early but then very straight at the hole. Obviously it was up to Chris to start the putt on the right line but that was very satisfying.
“You are always trying to get a feel for the course as the round develops and sometimes the conditions are constantly changing. Some days the wind can be one direction all day, that’s easy, on other days it can be swirling or it might turn 90 degrees through your round, that I notice more now as a caddie. As a player I used to just throw some grass up.
“I’ll always have the compass out and making sure I know exactly what the wind is doing and I’ll check several weather forecasts. It’s great when they’re all saying the same thing but often they don’t.
“I like to walk the course late at night and have a look at the following day’s pin positions or early in the morning and I’ll have a look round the greens. From the fairway the pin can look completely different from when you get to the green – some caddies do all this in the practice rounds but I’m maybe not at that level so I’ll have a walk round.”
“I didn’t know what to wear so I just copied everyone else. Basically you just wear shorts, I think it would be frowned upon if you turned up in a pair of golf trousers. You can’t have ridged trainers as they might mark the greens. I have never worn a cap but have a Callaway woolie hat and Galvin Green sent me a box of stuff so at least we look coordinated.”
“We don’t share accommodation as we spend such a long time with each other. When I got on tour I roomed with my caddie Jim Longstaff, I love him and he’s a brilliant bloke but we were driving each other crazy after two months so we decided to do our own thing and it worked so much better. Chris and I will still go out for meals but I’m still happy to just travel round on my own and play a bit of poker at night.”
Jason Palmer factfile
Born: October 8, 1984, in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
Amateur wins: 3 (Italian Amateur Open, Midland Amateur Championship, South of England Amateur Championship)
Professional wins: 5 (Foshan Open, Uniqa Financelife Open, Friuli Venezia Giulia Open, Cervino Open, Citadelle Trophy)