Today is another caddy story featuring my college roommate and teammate Patrick Cawthorne.
I met Pat in the mid 80’s while in college at Lamar University (the Princeton of Texas). He was a bartender at the local college watering hole, Judge Roy Beans Bar. He saw a bunch of golfers all dressed up trying to get a beer and he mentioned that he could play a little. I saw it as a good opportunity for some cheap (aka free) beer so I invited him to practice with us at the team driving range. Turned out to be a smart move, he was really good and ultimately walked on the team and then earned a scholarship.
The year is now 1994 and I am playing the PGA TOUR Kemper Open at TPC Avenel and I’m still looking for freebies from Pat and others. Pat is very competitive so all he wanted was to be the caddy from our college team who earned the most purse money on the PGA TOUR. And he did. Tuesday morning, we get into a gambling game with Tray Tyner and John Riegger. I always had a rule to split my practice round winnings with my caddie 50/50. Losses I take on myself. I forget the game we were playing but we were up about $60 on Tyner and $40 on Riegger. Standing on the 8th tee Tray blocks a drive into the trees, he is frustrated and loses it for a brief moment and destroys his driver. Riegger and I look at him like dude what are you doing? He says he has a back-up, and was just trying to break that one in. He broke it alright. The 9th hole at Avenel is a straight downhill par 3 with water on the right. About as steep a walk as you will find on the PGA TOUR. Enter into the story, Tray’s caddy, Six-Pack Jack. I don’t know his real name but he dressed like Mr. Clean. All white, top to bottom. Including belt and shoes. It starts to rain on the tee and we try to figure out if we are going to be able to play the back 9. So I call out that all bets are to be paid on the 9th hole. Pros are mumbling. We all hit it on the green and as we walk off the tee, Six Pack starts to lecture everyone about the steepness of the hill. His voice had a deep gargle to it as if he had chased six packs of beers with packs of smokes. “Boys, be careful, every year some caddy loses it on this slope.” Almost as soon as he finishes speaking the words his feet are up in the air and he lands right on top of Tray’s back-up driver. We had just heard the same sound on the previous tee. Snap Crackle POP! Six-Pack slid a solid 5 yards right down the hill. Mr. Clean was covered in grass, mud and graphite. Riegger and I were laughing so hard we had to call off the bet. After lunch and rain delay, we join Payne Stewart for the back nine. Pat asked me to gamble against him, I said “no chance.” I was swinging really good but I wanted none of his action. We play a few holes, I am hitting it solid and Payne says "I don’t understand why ya’ll are not making more money out here". Pat answers, “because I’m only on the bag once a year.” The tournament starts and I throw out a 75 in the 1st round. We work until dark and Pat turned into a psychologist. That’s what caddies have to do sometimes. I come out the next morning and bogey the first hole. Pat’s had enough. He gives me the full blown “man, if you’re not going to try I’m not going to caddy.” We have our come to Jesus moment and the players are looking at us wondering if we are going to fight. He says “why don’t you listen to Payne Stewart and show me what you got?” So here we go. I birdie #2, a par five. Make good pars on #3 and #4. I birdie #5 and Pat starts talking to me again. But I haven’t spoken to him yet. I go for the green on the par 5 #6 and hit it in the water but managed to make par. I’m starting to feel it, getting the mojo on my side. I knock it to three feet on #7 for another birdie. Make a 30 footer on #8 for birdie. 10 footer on #9 to go out in 32 on the front nine. Pat and I are now best friends again. I birdie #10 and have a 20 footer for birdie on #11. Pat says, “get out of the way and let it happen.” I’ll be damned if didn’t go right in. Five in a row at this point. We are floating on air. #12 is the hardest hole on the course so I play it conservatively away from the water on both shots and make solid par. #13 par five, hit the green in two 10 feet from the hole but miss the eagle putt. The 14th hole is a short, drivable par 4, risk reward at its greatest. Pin is tucked front left with a bunker on the left and a creek on the right. The driver is the best club in my bag but when I went to grab it, Pat had already pulled out the 4 iron. I look at him like what are you doing? He froze. I wanted the driver. We start to debate. He says “you’re playing so good, just be smart.” I come back with “name is on the bag give me the driver. It never left the pin. Lands 5 yards short of the green, bounces up, almost goes in for an ace. Goes 40 feet past the hole. Another two putt birdie. The adrenaline is pumping. Pat might have had more trouble breathing than even me, he was scared to look me in the eye. We were in the zone. It felt like we had the equivalent of a perfect game going. A no hitter. Mister momentum was on our side. On the back of #14 green I tell Pat, “watch this, the crowd is going to start yelling 59.” We walk to the 15th tee and as predicted and two guys look right at us and say “you can do it 59!” Pat can’t believe it; he stares at them like they just dropped a big jinx bomb on us. I hit driver then 7 iron to 45 feet. Putts breaking a solid 2 ½ feet right to left. Pat gives me the perfect read and I knock it right in the middle. We have birdied nine out of eleven holes. We are running off the green. Standing on 16th tee, trying to re-gain our composure the “mojo breakers” start chanting, 59, 59. Pat tells them to stop. I hit driver and attack the pin with a wedge, the ball spun so hard it caught the front downslope, off the green it went. Really difficult up and down. Pat says “you gotta go for the hole out.” It was a feast or famine type shot, a high flop over the bunker. I’m too aggressive and I run the chip by the hole, miss the putt and make bogey. Par #17 and we are now completely deflated. The mojo was gone. Horseshoe a three footer on the last hole for a finishing bogey. Worst finish to a 64 round ever. We go on to finish 71-71 on the weekend to tie for 10th place. Make $26,975. Pat’s was on his way to the college caddy money title.