On being compared to Seve

I have had three great insights this week, involving my swing, social media marketing and Scandinavian golf.

The golf swing one came from my elderly friend Ken who walked around and watched me play the New. He at one point compared me to the late Seve Ballestros, which was a massive compliment I suppose. Not comparing me on the looks front of course, for as aforementioned, I have long lost the jet black in my hair (and indeed my hair!) which would have given me any possible resemblance to that handsome man. No, it was my golf swing and my ever so slight, ensuing erraticism. Ken pointed out that I was collapsing my left side through impact. And he was perfectly right. A strong left side through impact is fundamental to a solid golf swing.

But that is enough of that. This is not Golf Digest.

As you may be aware I am involved in opening a bistrot in Edinburgh. Now I caddied for a lovely and fascinating man from Wigan yesterday, who is in the process of opening up gyms up and down the country. Alan couldn’t emphasise enough the importance of social media marketing in the success of these ventures. And indeed, he seems certainly to be doing ok with it as he has been backed by JD Sports, who cannot be a bad bed fellow. It’s kind of the equivalent of us being partnered with Heston Blumenthal and rolled out by Waitrose.

Now that’s food for thought.

Alan was telling how his friend has this, state of the art, club fitting business and has many celebrities on board. One, a Mr Wayne Rooney, hit fifty balls with that bit of tracing paper over the club face to highlight his striking capabilities. Seemingly, not one was near the sweet spot. So maybe we won’t be seeing Wayne up at the Dunhill just yet.

We have had many Scandinavian parties up this week who have been an interesting and lively bunch. One group in particular played great golf and were impressive drinkers. They all brought out their different bottles of spirits on the second tee. Cognac and whisky and some cream liquor. By the half-way house they were merry, threw back bottles of beer and stocked up with some wine, to add some diversity to the situation I presume, for they still had their bottles of liquor. By the fifteenth they were very buoyant and one chap, Stig, was playing remarkably good golf. I mentioned this to my man, Lars, who agreed and intimated that he had basically played at professional level. But his face then took on a most serious and grave expression as he added ‘he can’t play when he is sober though’.

Now that’s a sobering thought.


This week I feel like I’ve met Danny Devito, Tyrrel Hatton and Bill Bryson. For we sure had their dead cert lookalikes out there.

My Danny Devito man was of similar stature to the American comic and was actually called Danny. He had that friendly, energetic and cheeky air about him and was immense fun. He warned me that he was a terrible golfer and was spot on. He was not the fittest chap in the world either and after the long slog up the hill to the 12th green I told him that it was all down hill from here, to which he immediately quirped ‘that’s what my doctor tells me’.

I asked Danny what he did to which he replied ‘real estate lawyer’, hesitated and with that wry grin on his slightly mischievous face added ‘I help rich people steal from each other’. Later in the round he reeled of this wonderful description of golf and its parallel to real life but I can’t for the life of me remember it. Something about intermittent new dawns, false hopes and long stretches of tedium. Anyway he said he would mail it.

My Bill Bryson and Tyrrel Hatton were father and son, John and Shane, from somewhere up New York. Shane had never heard of Tyrrel Hatton but had a very similar build, face and eye, with not a dissimilar golf swing. Which is pretty impressive. I mean the golf swing bit. Not that Tyrrel Hatton is unattractive looking and not that I’m in a position to judge really.

Anyway I caddied for his father, John, who was a lovely, fun guy but had never heard of the writer Bill Bryson. Maybe his books aren’t as famous across the pond or indeed John is not bookish. But John is Bill Bryson. Almost an identical face, while big and bear looking in a bespectacled way. Albeit John had a great sense of humour, whereas if I’m totally honest I would say that Bill Brysons’ books have yet to hit me with much humour. Certainly not the bucket loads that the New York Times waxes on about.

I must say that I have a slightly paranoid relationship with this lookalike thing as I’ve been deemed similar to Bob Geldof, Rudolf Nureyev, the chap in Rainman, Tom Hanks(!?), Michael Barrymore and lately, Alf Garnett!

I think these descriptions are before and after me being overly challenged up top. However, I reckon you can get a gist of the reasons underpinning my slight paranoia. Not that I protested to being compared to the chap in Rainman, especially as it came from a most attractive young lady. But Alf Garnett?! Please no.

Anyway, Tyrrel and Bill had the most wonderful day of it at The Castle. Possibly the most beautiful day of the season, with luminous October light and white breakers crashing and splashing a haze of sparkling spray over the rocks below.

Not to mention a couple of birdies on sixteen, two tasty looking pheasants sitting on the eighteenth green and behind, the auld toun standing majestic in its ancient, stone sculptured magnificence.

St Andrews. Who is like yee?

150 to 1

When caddying, it’s always interesting to get Brits on board and particularly Englishmen. For they are a fascinating people with their quirks and accents and little eccentricities. We had four such young gentlemen this morning.

I met my man Chris, a tall and quite distinguished looking chap with a hard to place accent, but all the look of a fellow who’d been up to Oxbridge. I was amusing myself down the fourth hole of how I was going to approach him on the next tee and just come out with something like ‘ok Cambridge, PPE, Trinity College’ with Jeremy Paxman, University Challenge, delivery. It would have been wonderful to see the group’s reaction and make quite a refreshing change than to tell them that the bunker down the left was 243 yards away.

Anyway, this was all prevented by the subject somehow coming up between shots into the fourth green. Chris had in fact gone to Oxford but done Geography. I never got the subject, however I certainly got the Oxbridge. It turns out that he is a good friend of the lovely lass Clare who I’d caddied for a couple of weeks back in the R&A mixed foursomes. Very small world.

But that would have been quite funny if I’d nailed it first time and even got the college and subject correct. Can you imagine the reaction ‘How did you know that?’ which I could have followed up with something like ‘ I can tell you who you first snogged up there lad’. However, my imagination is getting carried away a tad. What a fine chap Chris was though.

Now it’s good to see that the man I caddied alongside at the Dunhill last week, Matt Wallace, is leading the Italian Open. I have a wee bet on him at an incredible 150 to 1 on the pre-tournament odds. I was just so impressed by the guy that I pretty much had to have a wager on him. Mind you given my recent, dismal horse betting form with twenty losers on the trot (yes, the trot!), I am surely to give him the kiss of death. However, I would say that he is the hottest new golfer around and would love to get a bet on him winning a major within five years.

I would think the bookies would be giving about 500’s which is about my odds for winning the forthcoming caddie tournament. However I ain’t betting on that.

The Dunhill

What an event the Dunhill is? A pro-am tournament that is also a major European Tour Event with massive prize money for the pros.

I caddied for David Walsh, the three-time Sportswriter of the Year and had the pleasure of his company for three practice rounds and three competitive rounds over Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the Old Course.

We had a good time of it with regard to the weather as the sun shone most of the week and Dave’s golf started to shine also, with a fantastic five birdies around Carnoustie on Wednesday.

I only shone in terms of my golfing attire as Royal & Awesome had, kindly and most generously, given me trousers for each day of the tournament.

Very nice of them indeed. However not to the liking of the chief caddie master at St Andrews, I’m afraid. But you can’t please everyone in life, and particularly on the sartorial front.

Mind you I did get approached by the local constabulary, as a lovely East Neuk policewoman came over and gave me the utmost compliment on my bright saltire breeks. Now that makes a most pleasant change, as the last time I was approached by the local constabulary it was on far less favorable and amiable terms.

But what a great week. I met the rather eccentric Padraig Harrington and worked for three rounds alongside the legendary caddie Dave McNeilly. Paul O’Connell and Sir Anthony McCoy both came up and shook my hand for some reason. Maybe they thought Alf Garnett had taken up golf.

I went to the loo at Kingsbarns and bumped into Wladmir Klitscko. I walked around with Norbert Dentressangle, Andrew White and Arty Moossmann.

And if you didn’t know who they are then join the club.

But I’ll tell you one thing. That Wladmir is rather a big chap.

‘What did you do before caddying?’

This is a fairly frequently asked question, as a client is either bewildered that a sane man should chuck a proper job to lug a bag around a field for a living, or is in a tiny way envious that someone should be paid to get their daily exercise in a lovely setting, shoot the breeze for a few hours and meet new people from all over the world.

My answer to ‘what did you do before caddying?’ is usually ‘what did I not do before caddying?’

For I have dipped my proverbial career toe into the heady delights of chartered accountancy, the insurance industry, investment management, primary school teaching, ski and golf teaching, resort repping, wine selling, gardening, property developing, tour operating and attempting to run a florist and café. The florist was called Bloemen Ecke. Yes indeed.

That’s the kind of CV that is not going to get you a job in a hurry. In fact it’s of Trainspotting stature.

However, here in the caddying world it’s not what you’re judged upon. For we are an eclectic bunch at the very extremes of eclecticism.

Nevertheless we can normally pitch up on time, discern a true gentleman, hold a drink, tell a joke or two and more often than not, hit a bonnie ball. Canny? Aye. But, most humanely resourceful.

ps Please send all job offers to the above address with a sae. Thank you!