“Fancy caddying for Gary Player tomorrow? “ isn’t a text you get every night.
But at 8:42 on a Friday night this May, that’s what a text message from our caddiemaster was telling me. And I knew it wasn’t a joke. By the time I had a chance to think twice, I had replied with the thumbs up to go ahead with the job. Pretty crazy that I would get to meet one of the game’s greats, and not just meet him ,but to spend a day with him. Games at Kingsbarns Golf Link where I work are around around 4hr30 mins, (give or take the amount of time golfers spend ordering sausage rolls…) so I knew I was in for a treat.
I wasn’t nervous as I knew I was more than capable of doing the job as far as the practical side, giving yardages and giving sound advice. I was more apprehensive about the conversation and banter, but knew that I could always fall back on the shared passion for golf if ever stuck. I set my alarm for 5;45am, Mr.Player wanted to tee off early. As I drove into Kingsbarns that morning I took a peak over to the range to see if Mr.Player had arrived. Sure enough, the purest ball striker of the lot was an elder gentleman wearing all black, the signature style of Mr.Player. Here we go.
It turned out that I would be driving a buggy for Mr.Player that day, meaning holding the conversation would be critical to his experience round the course! Myself and Scottie, an experienced Kiwi caddie who has worked at the links for several seasons, headed up to the tee to meet our guests. As I expected, Mr.Player at first was very cordial, with not a great deal of interest in who I was. He did make it extremely clear on the first tee that he wanted “ no advice about the course or the shot. Fully understandable that you wouldn’t take advice from a 6 Handicap when you’ve won the Grand Slam of Majors. He picked up the driver, hit a 2 yard baby draw down the first hole and we were off.
View from the 1st tee at Kingsbarns Golf Links
The only hiccup really in the round happened on the first. I automatically slipped back into full on caddie mode and started giving advice on the wind for his approach shot on the first.
“ We haven’t even hit 2 shots and you’re already giving me advice!”, Mr.Player jokingly said. Noted.
Over the next 18 holes I had a front row seat to a ball striking masterclass from Mr.Player. 17/18 greens, 4 birdies , and a total of -3 front very respectable tees at the age of 87. He hit a two yard draw with every club the whole way round, with not one shot failing to hit the center of the clubface.
The highlight came on the 7th hole. After tapping in for his par, Mr.Player asked me to drop a ball in one of the precarious greenside bunkers guarding the flag.
He turned to me and said “ Now Graham, if I hole this shot I don’t have to pay your fee today do I?”. I knew he was joking( I hoped) so I went along with it. Within seconds he splashed the ball out, tracking towards the holes which proceeded to go in the hole with perfect speed! The ability to do it for the first time was pretty legendary.
I won’t deny that I didn’t agree with everything that Mr.Player talked to me about during the round, but what I truly admired was his joy for life. He stopped many times to talk to golfers, and random bypassers walking the Fife Coastal Path. He genuinely cared about what was going on with their day, and made a little joke or remark to brighten their mood. It was also glaringly obvious that he still has a burning desire to play the game, and is evident that he’s still damn good at it!
Thank you Mr.Player, and to caddiemaster Sean for setting this opportunity up.
Graham is a Caddiemaster at Kingsbarns Golf Links and the Founder of Handicaddie. Staff in clubs like Trump Aberdeen now are using Handicaddie as an app to schedule their caddie jobs. See why more rounds are scheduled on Handicaddie every day by visiting Handicaddie.com.