The big golf story this week is Rory McIlroy sacking/replacing his caddie, JP Fitzgerald. According to his press conference the reason was so that they could maintain their personal friendship as their business relationship was becoming strained. We all know that all golfers are looking for an excuse for hitting a bad shot, its never our fault and the easiest person to blame is the person next to you carrying your bag. When the player is playing well there’s never a problem and the ‘team’ are working in harmony. Indeed, when things are going well the caddie talks about ‘us’ hitting the shot but when things are going badly they tend to separate themselves and then it’s the player who hit it badly.
The timing of this was unusual as McIlroy had given JP credit for turning his game around at The Open following a rather strong talking to when he made such a dreadful start in the first round. The way he played at the Open must have frustrated Mcilroy beyond belief as he couldn’t maintain any sort of consistency and every time he got himself near to the top of the leader board he faded away again. To finish so close to the winner after hitting so many bad shots must have left him wondering what might have been and thinking how far could he have won by if he had played anywhere near his best when the pressure was on.
Whilst its always sad to see someone losing their job, in the 9 years JP has been working for him its estimated he has earned 7 or 8 million dollars so he has been well compensated regardless of any severance package that might have been negotiated. For the next two weeks McIlroy has his best man and long time friend on the bag as he looks for someone he can have a more personal relationship with on the course. Should he win does the lack of a ‘professional’ caddie diminish the role of the caddie and what will McIlroy do in the future? There will be no shortage of full time caddies looking to work for McIlroy and it has been reported on a regular basis that other players and caddies didn’t rate JP all that highly. Once a golfer has analysed his swing , changed his equipment, got married, what else is there to change to get back on the winning track except his caddie? So, it is understandable that this has happened. If Phil Mickelson can get rid of his caddie, Bones McKay, after being inseparable for over 20 years in an effort to halt his slide down the world rankings, McIlroys actions look understandable.
Being a caddie isn’t as simple a job as it seems. Its not just carrying a very heavy bag around 18 holes you have to be articulate reasonably good at maths to calculate distances etc. And, very importantly you need to be a psychologist and have the ability to accept criticism whilst still being able to bolster your player’s confidence. There is no doubt that at the top of the profession because that’s what it is now especially in America where you have college graduates and ex professional golfers carrying for their player its extremely well paid but you as well as being physically fit you do need a very very thick skin!
Let us know your view!