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Cotter's caddie life

'My first day as caddie for Gary Wolstenholme at the US Open'
By Andrew Cotter
BBC Radio 5 Live golf reporter


Andrew Cotter and Gary Wolstenholme
Cotter stands by as Wolstenholme makes his point

When veteran amateur Gary Wolstenholme got the call to say he was being included in the US Open field after Sean O'Hair's late withdrawal, he had a problem - he had no caddie arranged.

BBC Radio 5 Live had said that if it came to it, we would help out. It did come to it, and it came to me to step up. So on Thursday, there I was carrying Gary's bag as he negotiated his way around the Torrey Pines course.

It was a long day. And it confirmed what we already suspected - this is a very long course, too long for Gary.

'Team Wolstenholme' worked quite well - almost in perfect harmony, after I had spoken at length to more seasoned bagmen like Paul Casey's sidekick Craig Connolly and Colin Byrne, who works with Retief Goosen.

Most terrifying were the instructions on protocol as to what to do around the green. For example, if another player in your group has to play out of a greenside bunker, you should take on the responsibility for cleaning his ball, while HIS caddie rakes the bunker.

And apparently, at no point should you shout 'You da man!!' at any member of the group, no matter how good the shot is.

These are general rules a caddie lives by.

More specifically, Gary likes a caddie to ensure that there is no condensation on his water bottle and that it should be warmed up from chilled since it can be better 'assimilated' into the body. Yikes. And I thought I would just have to hand him a five iron now and then.

People say the best advice for a caddie is to keep up and shut up but I think I failed on both of those at some point in the round.

606: DEBATE

Overall, it was clearly a disappointing day for Gary - his basic goal was to break 80 and he missed it by three. Shots just disappeared so easily after tiny mistakes.

I said before we went out that I thought he might shoot 83. That is not being disparaging about Gary - he is a hugely talented amateur - but the course is just too long for him.

One of his playing partners, American Hunter Mahan, showed how to do it with a fine 72 in very difficult afternoon conditions, but he was hitting 60 yards further off the tee, which obviously makes life very much easier.

On the 514-yard par four 6th hole, for example, Hunter hit a drive and an eight iron. Gary came up just short with two drivers.

So it was an abject lesson into just how important distance is in the modern game and especially on this course.

But it was a fantastic experience and there were still plenty of great moments to remember. Fans on every fairway who had heard or read of Gary's story chanted his name. We even heard the odd cry of 'go team BBC'.

And his tee shot at the par-three third hole lipping out for a hole-in-one getting a huge roar. Good things to remember and he was enjoying that.

Let's hope he forgets the misread I gave him on the 8th green and scores better in the easier conditions out early in the second round.

Speaking of which, I have to get up in six hours. A 0430 BST alarm call awaits. The life of a caddie is hard indeed.




see also
Iain Carter's US Open Diary
12 Jun 08 |  Golf


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