Top Ten Twosomes
In an announcement that shocked the golf world last week, Phil Mickelson and his long-time side-kick, Jim “Bones” MacKay announced that they had mutually decided to part ways. Both said all the right things in their separate statements but one thing you can be pretty sure about, this was Mickelson’s decision and there was nothing mutual about it. Such is the life of a caddie.
Today’s caddie is an executive in their own right. Most player/caddie agreements call for a weekly stipend for expenses (travel, hotel etc.) that can range from $1500-$2,500 and then a percentage of the players prizemoney (from 7%-10%). With players routinely having multi-million dollar years, looping can be a very lucrative career choice.
We thought we would come up with our list of the 10 best player/caddie tandems over the years.
#10 Francis Oiumet and Eddie Lowry. Oiumet stunned the world when he won the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, MA as a 20-year old amateur. 10-year old Lowry was his caddy for the week and who Ouimet gave much of the credit for his victory to. Their story became a bestselling book called the Greatest Game Ever played and then a movie by the same name in 2005. Both men would remain life-long friends and Lowry would be a pall bearer at Oiumet’s funeral in 1966.
#9 In 1986 Jack Nicklaus was in the twilight of his amazing playing career. He played events only sporadically and had stopped using a full-time caddy, often times having one of his grown up sons on the bag. 24-year old Jackie was with his Dad at the Masters when the Golden Bear conjured up that old magic for a final time and claimed his 18th and final Major title. It was not just one of the great moments in golf; it was one of the great moments in all of sports.
#8 Lee Trevino and Herman Mitchell Lee. One of the game’s greatest celebrations came when Trevino aced the 17th hole of the TPC Stadium Course during the 1987 Skins Game at PGA West and jumped up into the burly Lee’s embrace. Trevino won more money, $250,000 with that one shot than he had ever won at any other tournament in his career. They had distinctly different personalities with the happy go lucky Merry Mex always laughing and chatting while the gruff 300+lb. Herman would be scowling. It was not unusual for the two to have on-course disagreements that would end with them yelling at each other but their partnership lasted 19 years.
#7 Annika Sorenstam and Terry McNamara. McNamara took over duties for the Swedish legend in 2000 and was witness to several historic accomplishments with Sorenstam. Those would include Sorenstam’s epic 59 in 2001 at the Standard Register PING in Phoenix, Ariz. When she became the first LPGA player to break the 60 barrier and when she became the first female professional to play in a PGA Tour event at Colonial in 2003. McNamara was on the bag for 54 of Annika’s 72 LPGA Tour wins and 8 of her 10 Majors.
#6 Jack Nicklaus and Angelo Argea. Argea’s gray afro and ripped physique made him stand apart from most caddies in the 20 years he caddied for the best player in history. Argea was Nicklaus’ caddy for 44 of his 73 career PGA wins but played a different role than any other caddie on this list. Nicklaus did all his own green-reading and selected his own clubs so Argea’s main tasks were to keep reminding his boss that he was the best player in the world and how many holes they had left to play.
#5 Ben Crenshaw and Carl Jackson. Jackson is unique on this list because as opposed to the professional caddies listed, he was not a Tour caddie but spent his whole life helping his players at Augusta National, the home of the Masters. In April of 1995 Ben Crenshaw had just lost his dear friend and mentor, Harvey Penick and had flown back to Austin in the days before the Masters began to attend his funeral. Finding form that had eluded him for years and with the expert advice and counsel from Jackson, Crenshaw would prevail in one of the events most emotional wins. Gentle Ben would credit Jackson enormously for his role in the improbable win.
#4 The Dali Lama and Carl Spackler (Bill Murray). When one of the two members of the tandem has Divine attributes, they simply must make a list like this. Should probably be even ranked higher.
#3 Tiger Woods and Steve Williams. Williams caddied for Woods for 12 years form 1999 until Woods fired him in 2011. During that time, Williams was the caddie of record for most of Woods’s 79 career PGA titles and 13 of his 14 Majors. The relationship however did not end well, with the hot tempered Williams accusing Woods of treating him like a slave and other outrageous claims.
#2 Mickelson and MacKay; aka Lefty and Bones. The two were together for an almost unheard of 25 years which in golf years is like reaching the age of 100. Bones was on the bag for 41 of Lefty’s 42 PGA Tour wins and all five of his Majors.
#1 Tom Watson and Bruce Edwards. Edwards caddied for Watson from 1973 to 1989. At Watson’s urging Edwards caddied for then world #1 Greg Norman for the next three years before rejoining Watson from 1992 to 2003. Edwards was on the bag for most of Watson’s 39 PGA Tour wins. Theirs was not only a great partnership but and even greater friendship. In 2003, Edwards was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and succumbed to it a year later at the age of 49. The following year, Watson would pay homage to his old friend at the 13th tee at Augusta during the Masters. Edwards would always eat his favorite egg sandwich on the tee so Watson began leaving half a sandwich there every year until playing in his final Masters in 2016.