Robert Rock: what makes a great caddy

Golf News

Wanted: An experienced caddy who is great at reading greens

AT the moment I’m looking for a new caddy. I’ve only had three in the last five years so it’s a decision you want to get right.

Ideally I’d like someone who has been around longer than me and has worked with a better player than me so they can bring something new to the equation.

Players eventually work out what they want from a caddy. I personally don’t want anyone to watch me hit balls on the range, it just seems like dead time to me and I would rather they took the initiative and looked at the course or worked on the yardage books. Or even take some time off so they are fresh for the rounds.

I haven’t done much caddying myself but I would think, if you know what you are doing, it would only take a couple of rounds to get the gist of what a player is capable of.

I don’t think many players want caddies who will describe the type of shot that they think the player should hit. The danger is if a caddy sees a shot in a certain way and starts describing it and you see a different shot then that doesn’t tend to end too well!

It is better if conversations are based on facts like exact yardages and the direction of the wind.

I have just spent a year with Richard Logue and he was great. We are a similar age and started on the European Tour at the same time. He is a decent golfer and a funny bloke which is important as you need someone who can lighten the mood at times.

I think I’m pretty good at listening to the caddy – I’m less good if I’m just about to miss the cut! – but I like to take their opinions on board and all my caddies have been heavily involved in my putting.

I really think two pairs of eyes are better than one, quite often you miss things from different angles so that really helps.

I had a two-year spell with Jamie Lane when he almost did the putting for me, he would read it and line me up and I really trusted him and that process has made me a much better putter.

Before that I wasn’t really looking carefully enough at reading the greens and watching someone else do it at such close quarters really helped.

Gary Tilson and Richard did the same and they have all improved my reading of greens. Also, and it might be coincidence, but I had laser eye surgery in 2008 and I feel like I’ve become a better putter since.

If I had been with someone else then something silly could have happened. At my biggest win, in Abu Dhabi two years ago, I hit it into a waste area next to a large rock on the closing par-5 18th when I was two clear. I’m pretty sure I had it under control but Gary definitely did, so, between us, there hopefully wasn’t any danger of messing it up.

Then again, you never know, and if I had been with someone else then something silly could have happened.

For the shot itself there was about an 80 per cent strike rate of getting the ball back into play but it might have looked a bit silly as I was standing astride a massive boulder. It wasn’t that tricky but it was unnecessary.

Gary was certain that I was going to take a penalty drop and he wouldn’t even hand me a club in case I touched something and it cost me a penalty. I didn’t consider that and, looking back, that was a great bit of work.

There are a group of brilliant caddies out there and, not surprisingly, they are all working for the best players.

They are all different in personalities but all very successful.

Gareth Lord, who works with Henrik Stenson, seems to have the Midas touch. I don’t know what it is but it works and he seems to get instant success.

If you were to find a top caddy with the right personality then it can be a huge asset and you can see why management companies find experienced caddies for their young stars when they are starting out.

Likewise the top caddies can spot a great player when they’re young.

I haven’t had one of those, and I don’t think I ever will, but it would be nice to find out what a difference it would make.

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