OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. -- I know, I know. It's been way too long since my last Caddie Confidential, and I apologize for it taking so long. It's been a busy couple of weeks to say the least, but hey ... I'm here now. This week I got a caddie who was not afraid to let loose on this past week's tournament, course and setup. He also drops on this week's venue and the playoffs in general. I promise this was worth the wait. Enjoy.
Collins: After being at Glen Oaks Club for a week, what's your takeaway from the golf course?
Caddie: It's in good shape. Wide fairways, big rough, big greens. Maybe, probably the 30th-best golf course on the island (Long Island). In my opinion.
Collins: The 30th best?
Caddie: Well, you got so many great golf courses here, it's too bad that we had to come here and play this one.
Collins: Wow. That's starting off strong. So why were the crowds here so small this week? Bethpage last year was mobbed compared to this.
Caddie: Because people have pride in Bethpage in New York, being a public golf course. People want to come out and see where they play. Coming to a private venue that no one's really heard of ... it's a kept secret, the conditions are phenomenal, one of the best in the Northeast. I will give them that, but when the "brains" of golf bring us to venues like this, it's really disappointing.
Collins: Which was the best hole on this golf course?
Caddie: The 19th. (smirks and laughs)
Collins: All right, smart aleck. Which was the best hole you caddied this week?
Caddie: No. 16. Great driving hole, narrow. It's not long, but you've got to drive the ball in the fairway. (Another caddie sitting close by eavesdropping nods in agreement.) It's a small, little narrow green. That back left pin placement on Friday? You have to pony up to hit a great shot. Golf (holes) don't need to be long to be the best.
Collins: If there was one hole this week you'd blow up and start over ...
Caddie: No. 18. It's a hole where if you hit it 320, you're hitting a flip sand wedge in to a green that's receptive to a 9- or an 8-iron. But if you carry it 260-265, you gotta hit it right. There (you're) hitting from a downslope, to an uphill green, a 4- or 5-iron. Hoping (to) hit the front of the green and hoping it stays on. That's not a good golf hole.
Collins: That being said about the golf course, how were the amenities this week for the caddies? You have your own private locker room.
Caddie: We're in the parking lot with our players! Walk right up, makes it pretty easy. Great food, people taking care of us. Awesome, actually. Things are getting better.
Collins: Next week we go to another big golf course at TPC Boston.
Caddie: It's a big golf course, but it's not big like this.
Collins: Explain, please.
Caddie: The fairways are a little more narrow there. I'm not sure what the rough is going to be like there this week but ... you know it's got a really good little risk/reward par-4 ... The second hole is a par-5 that, unless you've got an iron in your hand, you're a fool to be going at that green. And even with a 3- or 4-iron it's a tough green to hit.
Collins: Let's talk FedEx Cup and the playoffs overall. How much do the caddies "grind" over where the player stands?
Caddie: Honestly? I don't even look at it. Our one goal is to win golf tournaments. It's not to move up on the FedEx Cup ... The guys that are looking at (where they are) on the FedEx Cup are usually the guys who fall out of it.
Collins: That's not true. Harold Varner III and his caddie knew exactly where they were going into Greensboro, and HV III told me exactly how it changed how he played on Sunday.
Caddie: I'm a percentages type of caddie. I look at the percentages of where to be aggressive and where not to be. I don't change my game plan. Our game plan is to win every single golf tournament we get in. That's the only reason I caddie. I've never caddied for the money. I've always caddied for winning golf tournaments ... That being said, a guy like Harold Varner III should learn from what he's saying. He's too aggressive of a player ... he doesn't play by percentages. Now all of the sudden he's playing "defensive" golf as he calls it, but guess what? He finished top-10 that week by playing smart, by using the percentages. So he should learn from that. And he's a good player. He should never have been outside the top 125. And not only is he a good player, he's a good person. I love being around him. He makes me laugh, kind of like you!
Collins: So the FedEx Cup?
Caddie: (Takes a big breath ...) OK. We get to a golf course like this week. That's probably the only time I'm looking at the FedEx Cup to be honest. Because we came to a golf course we had no chance of winning on. So we really had to play smart to make as many points as we could this week.
Collins: How would you change FedEx Cup playoffs?
Caddie: I don't fix something that's not broken. I don't think it's broken. You know what? They're all talking about "not competing against football." People that watch golf are going to watch golf regardless, and the people that watch football are going to watch football regardless. How many fans are we actually gonna lose (if we're not done) by Sept. 1?
Collins: Would you do anything to the Tour Championship to make it more compelling?
Caddie: Yeah -- move it to a better golf course.
Collins: What's one thing about the FedEx Cup playoffs people don't know that they should?
Caddie: I'll tell you one thing -- all of the frowning caddies that aren't making it to next week 'cause that's one less paycheck. One of my buddies just left; he (and his wife) just had a baby girl, and guess what? His guy didn't make it. So he's looking at a flight to go home last minute and he's done until October.
Collins: What's that like for a lot of guys? Are they scared of losing their jobs if the season ends this early for them?
Caddie: You know, there'll be, hopefully, no caddies losing their job. But the reality is that there will be a couple, hopefully less than a handful. It seems like there's less firing going on than there used to be.
Collins: Why do you think that is?
Caddie: I think we're getting better caddies out here. I think players are taking a little more responsibility for their failures.
Collins: I think it's a different type of player out here now.
Caddie: It's funny that you say that, because it's a younger player. You take 10 years ago, the average age was 33, and it's now like 27. So you think it would be the exact opposite and it's not, which is surprising.
Collins: Yeah, but it's also reassuring to know the young crop of golfers we have out here right now are pretty good people, too.