NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. — I’ll spare you the gory details, mostly because there aren’t any.
In my first round caddying on the PGA Tour, my loop Brendan Steele shot 68, I didn’t screw up too badly and we genuinely had a fun time walking around the golf course together.
About an hour after we finished the BMW Championship final round, Steele and I sat in the player lounge sipping beverages while trying to recall any memorable moments around Aronimink Golf Club.
“We didn’t do anything weird,” he sighed. “I was actually hoping for something weird, but nothing like that happened. We never had a bad yardage, we never lost a club anywhere.”
He might’ve been disappointed we didn’t have a better story to tell, but I was just fine with not messing up too much.
My biggest gaffe came as we exited the second green. I was chatting with Phil Mickelson and grabbed the wrong bag, briefly picking up Brian Harman’s sticks by mistake. That prompted a good group-wide laugh for a few seconds, but other than that, embarrassments were few and far between.
Then again, Steele made it easy on me.
We’ve been friends for a long time and have often talked about the prospect of having me caddie for him. This was a perfect situation, as Steele’s usual caddie, Christian Donald, had an early flight scheduled before the Monday finish was announced and he needed a temp.
Because I knew Steele was near the bottom of the leaderboard and couldn’t advance to the playoff finale, there wasn’t much I could mess up.
It also helped that I received the paint-by-numbers version of caddying.
He calculated all of his own yardages. He pulled his clubs. He read his own putts. (Other than a 10-foot in-swinger, when I chimed in, “I think it goes left.”)
“I tried to pick up some of the slack to make it easy on you,” he told me.
It turned out to be Steele’s low round of the week, in what might have been the toughest conditions as cooler temperatures and steady winds kept the ball from traveling as far as it did earlier in the week.
I take zero credit for any of it, but at least there isn’t much blame I have to shoulder.
A few other highlights from the day:
- Steele is buddies with Keegan Bradley, so we hung around him a bit before the round. Steele hit balls next to him on the range, and I received some sage wisdom from Bradley’s caddie, Chad Reynolds. When Bradley won later in a playoff, Steele was among the first to congratulate him on the 18th green.
- I was waiting for some good-natured needling from Mickelson. It never happened. He was fantastic to spend the day with, as we drifted in and out of conversations about everything from football to fishing. He did ask for one good story from me per nine holes and, well, I think I still owe him one.
- I also thought I’d receive more needling from the other caddies. Instead, guys like Paul Tesori and Joe Skovron were really encouraging before we teed off. Can’t lie: I was a little nervous beforehand, but their words definitely helped calm me down a bit.
- Our other playing partner, Harman, said to me on the first tee, “Just so you know, everything that happens today is off the record.” I then spent the next hour trying to decide whether him telling me everything was off the record was also off the record or if at least that part was on the record.
- I’m pretty sure Steele never granted me veto power, but I did try to hand him an 8-iron for a 156-yard shot on the fourth hole. He hit 9-iron and came up short. I stopped gloating when he rolled in the 30-foot birdie putt.
- My one regret: I never got a chance to quote Romeo. I really wanted to yell at Steele, “You don’t need to be thinking immortality, you need to be thinking hit the 7-iron!” but we never really had the chance.
Speaking of golf movies and caddies, I know one of the big questions from those reading this will be about whether Steele gave me a little something, you know, for the effort.
I won’t have total consciousness on my deathbed, but we mutually decided to make a donation to the WGA, which runs the BMW Championship and creates so many opportunities for young caddies around the country.
All I wanted anyway was the caddie bib.
I pulled a Steve Williams, ripping off the bib on the final green and stuffing it into Steele’s golf bag before a tournament volunteer could track me down. That’ll be going up on my office wall very soon.
So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.