I’ve posted this story before on Facebook but here it is again with more details. To set the story for the caddy/player dialogue, check out the video attached to this post with Tom Watson and his caddy Neil Oxman. It cracks me up every time I see it and reminds me of my exchange with Eric Egloff. It’s 1992, my first tournament on the PGA TOUR, the Bob Hope Classic. The big E, Eric Egloff is on the bag. Eric and I had played the Canadian Tour together and he agreed to come caddy to get me started on the TOUR.
The first day was so exciting. It had been a six year journey to get to this place. Palm Springs is a great place for golf. The sun is always out and the desert air is perfectly calm. The scores are always low at the Hope. We walk to the first tee. I’ve got new shoes, new clubs and a PGA TOUR card. Everything is fine until I hear, “Now on the tee, Kelly Gibson from New Orleans, LA.” The oxygen got really thin really fast. I swing so hard that I pop up my driver and had to hit 6 iron into the first green. It’s normally a driver, wedge hole. I hadn’t popped up a ball since high school. Six iron is in the air and then in the water. Nice double to begin your career on the PGA TOUR. Eric immediately turns into a sports psychologist, trying his best to calm me down. I get to the second hole and there’s the leaderboard showing that guys are already -4 and -5 and it’s only 9:45am. It’s a five round tournament so Eric is trying to keep my head in the game. Lots of golf to play. I looked at him and said “you’re more nervous than me. Cut it out.” We cruise along to a 40 on the front nine. Scoreboard shows I’m in 155th place and there are only 156 guys playing. We get to the back nine and I remember this as clear as day. Eric and I were debating the yardage on the 12th hole. He kept a yardage book and so did I. Trust level was not there yet. I said “it’s important that we get the yardages dialed in. The air is thin. What do we have?” He says “it’s 97 to the hole.” I flew it right into the hole and destroyed the cup. As we are walking up he asks “do you trust me on the yardage yet?” We both laughed. I blew out the edge of the cup so bad that the rules official had to change out the cup and punch a new hole into the green. My ball had kicked out of the hole about 12 feet away which is a bad break. However, I did make the birdie putt and ended up shooting 34 on the back nine for first round score of 74.
Days two and three I came flying through the pack with back to back 65’s. On day three I was playing with Brian Claar and I’m making another run at a low score. I’m -5 through 13 holes when I have my second blow out of the week. We had 156 yards to the hole on a two tiered green. I hit a perfect 8 iron and destroyed the hole again. It ricochets out, catches the slope and spins back 40 feet to the front of the green. Eric had the bag on his shoulders and dropped it in laughter. He and Claar’s caddy were commenting out loud how bad the break was. Eric tells him it’s my second blow out of the week and they both start laughing again. Not only is it a bad break I’m now mad at Eric for laughing. Rules official comes out and has to cut another hole. What are the odds of it happening twice in one week? Guess what happens next. I three putt. It gets real quiet walking off the green. I’m mumbling to myself and then I take it out on Eric and say “It’s not funny, I just made bogey and you guys are laughing at me.” Eric is still laughing on the next tee. He just couldn’t help himself. Tee shot is in the air, catches a tree, kicks straight right and goes out of bounds. All the smiles are gone and the mumbling is now laced with profanity. Fortunately I made bogey with my provisional on the hole and finish the round with a 69. Last round, I’m paired with Jay Don Blake and Jeff Sluman. We are in pretty good position. However, my game falters and we struggle all day. I was three over playing the last hole. Then I get even with Eric for laughing at my bad luck earlier in the week. It’s a reachable par 5 and I hit my tee shot in the rough left so I had to lay up. CBS cameras are covering our group, it’s our first chance to be on TV. As I see the cameraman approaching my ball, I tell Eric “don’t come with the bad yardage. You’re going to be on national TV. Make sure you look good.” Ooooo did he get nervous. In a yardage book there is usually a front yardage, a carry yardage over bunkers and sometimes they will have acronyms like LF which stands for left front or RF (right front). Earlier in the week E had never seen yardage books like they had on the PGA TOUR. So I had to have a little sit down with him to explain all the acronyms. Things are a little more sophisticated on the PGA TOUR vs the Canadian Tour, LOL.
Let me set up the shot. We have 137 yards to the pin from the left rough. Pin is back right. There’s a bunker guarding the right side of the green. The actual yardage reads 125 LF (left front), 133 RF, it’s an 8 yard carry to clear the bunker online with the pin and 12 yards from front left to the pin for a total yardage of 137. I have calculated it personally in my notes but I usually double check with Eric each time.
Here’s the exchange.
I say “E, what do we have?”
Eric says “Pro we have 137 front. 125 hole.”
I immediately start smiling and ask “E say that again?”
He repeats “137 to the front of the green. 125 to the hole.” Right in front of the CBS cameras.
Keep in mind I just told him not to mess this up. So I’m smiling big and he knows something is up.
He asks “what’s wrong?”
I reply “you said we had 137 to the front and 125 to the pin. Is that correct?”
He says “yes.”
I look right at the camera and say “what part of the bunker is the pin located in? The middle or back?”
He says “what?”
I repeat “you said we have 137 to the front of the green and 125 to the hole.”
He then realizes his mistake and says “just hit a wedge.” As we were walking up to the green he asks “why do you have to be such an asshole on TV?” Ok maybe he didn’t say it out loud but that was definitely the look he gave me. Went on to have a great rookie season with Eric on the bag. Got nominated for Rookie of the Year along with Phil Mickelson, David Toms and Mark Carnevale (Carnevale won).
Made some memories to last a lifetime. Love me some Eric Egloff.