Sandy Lyle recalls his favourite story of his trusted caddie and good friend Dave Musgrove, who died last month
Dave Musgrove was always at his happiest when doing the simple things in life: having a game of darts, playing cards, or just having a cup of tea. And all, preferably, in and around Kirkby in Ashfield, near Mansfield, from where he never moved.
The caddie, who died last month, might have travelled and won tournaments all over the world – he was on the bag for four major victories – but he remained his own man, never seeking fame or being affected by it.
Once upon a time he and Sandy Lyle, who teamed up for two of those majors, were paired with Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery at Pebble Beach.
Did Musgrove ever get star struck? His boss of nine years laughs at even the thought of that happening.
“David liked to tell the story of me bringing a cup of tea to his room when he stayed at our house. I had an old butcher’s apron which I wore around the house which made it more amusing, we were having some building work done so I was constantly picking up screws and nails and this apron had deep pockets so I got into the habit of wearing this thing,” Lyle explains.
The two had got together in 1981 at Fulford. Musgrove had spent four years with Seve Ballesteros, which included the Open win in 1979 – he would go on to caddie in an extraordinary 45 straight Opens. His time with Ballesteros almost finished Musgrove off, the maestro’s driven ways mentally exhausting the former Rolls Royce draughtsman. Musgrove, in his own words, had “served his sentence”.
Come the Benson & Hedges, he was working with another Spaniard Manuel Calero who was pushing for a Ryder Cup place. Calero missed the cut and, so the story goes, Musgrove was offered a job by both Nick Faldo and Lyle, who had won back-to-back Order of Merits in 1979 and 1980, within a few minutes of each other. He opted for the Scot.
“I guess he just felt more comfortable with me,” Lyle says. “There was no effort from any side to get used to each other, his rhythm fitted in with my type of playing. We quickly became good friends and we would meet up for food in a local pub in the evenings.”
For the record book Musgrove was on the bag for two Opens, with Ballesteros in 1979 and Lyle in 1985, one Masters with Lyle in 1988 and a US Open with Lee Janzen in 1998. But Lyle’s favourite story comes from the Lancome Trophy in 1984, a glittering small-field event to the west of Paris, where players and caddies received the full five-star treatment.
Lyle was off the pace after opening rounds of 74 and 70 but looked to have secured a respectable enough finish after successive 67s.
Lyle picks up the tale: “At the time it looked like a top five. Seve was leading and was a couple of hours behind us so we went to the media centre and had a few glasses of wine. We then moved up to third so that meant we had to stay for the presentation and we had another glass. By the fourth glass Seve had a 10-footer for birdie to win tournament which he missed and we were playing off.”
Lyle and Musgrove gathered themselves and the clubs and headed to the tee, half-cut but welcome attendees to the party.
“Seve got there 10 minutes later and Musgrove, knowing him well, asked where he had been and Seve blew his top a bit,” Lyle adds. “So that was good. Seve was still muttering about Bernhard Langer and hitting Eamonn Darcy’s marker on the green at 17.
“We then quickly made birdie with a 20-footer. We were pretty merry and thought what’s going to happen now? A nice lady from the Lido cabaret club then asked if anyone wanted a night there. Up go the hands and David and I are given the best seats in the house with free champagne. We ended up backstage to meet the whole line-up of girls, 15 of them in their high heels and head dresses, and had pictures taken with them.
“One of the girls looked down at Musgrove and said ‘Bye heck love, where do you come from?’ Musgrove’s eyebrows started flapping around like nothing else. She was from somewhere around Mansfield.
“I will always remember David saying as we got back to the five-star hotel: ‘That was the full bollocks all in one day.’ You can’t do it any better than that – win a tournament, get to meet the Lido girls on the Champs Elysees and also meet someone from your home town of Mansfield.”