Disc Golf

The Auburn Am and Some Thoughts on Caddies

Bridge to Hole 5 at Auburn

Bridge to Hole 5 at Auburn

I played the Auburn Am recently and had a really good time. I scored the best round of golf so far at 9 under par. I had been 9 under once before at the same course but this was by far my strongest showing at an event. I did not perform as well for the rest of the event – I was surprised how well I did in the first round and tried a little too hard to match it. Time to have two really good rounds in one event.

I really like the events hosted by the Chain Zombies in Auburn, Ca. They almost always start on time. The players meetings are no nonsense and concise. They have well organized side events like CTP’s and mini-disc-golf – though I don’t personally play them. They almost always provide lunch and this year the sandwiches were delicious and exactly what I needed. They had a couple beer options for breaks – I had one but kind of wish I hadn’t as I lost some focus and energy.

The only complaint I have is that they allowed in too many players and had two ghost groups.  I can’t recall the Zombies having this all too common problem before but it was a bit of a drag.  My worst hole was 16, round three, when I hit the earliest tree, careened off another tree, and got buried in thorny brambles. I had to take an unplayable lie and re-tee. I had waited at least 20 minutes to tee. There were at least 15 golfers and their caddies watching my fumble. I’m not saying the wait caused the fumble but having an audience at that moment was unpleasant.

Auburn Fairway Hole 5

My dog Ivan catching his disc on Auburn Hole 5 Fairway

The wait did give me a few moments to think about the topic of this blog and the opportunity to ask some of my fellow competitors what they thought about having or being a caddie. I had been thinking about this since the Master’s Cup a few weeks prior, largely because of a comment my buddy Armando made, “I’ve decided I just can’t play with a caddie.” Here are Armando’s Pros and Cons of having a caddie from the Master’s Cup Amateur Weekend in  Santa Cruz:

Armando and Evi 2.19.13

Armando and Evi 2.19.13

My parents were in town so I asked my Dad to join me for the first two days. Overall, he did great and it was fun having him around all day; I don’t get to see him often enough. I will focus on caddie pros & cons and use my Dad as a point of reference.

Pros:
  • You are less fatigued at the end of the day but this can also be remedied if you push a cart. In my case, I only carry 16 discs, which isn’t a lot, but my energy levels were much higher at the end of days 1 & 2. Caddies can provide words of encouragement, tips, suggestions, or even help you stay loose by talking about something else. This was evident with my Dad trying to cheer me up when things headed south. He urged me to be aggressive which cost me some strokes but also gained me some as well.
  • The caddie can take the scores down during your turn (if you like and if the rest of the group is ok with it). This can help you focus on your game rather than worry about the score. During my rounds my Dad reminded me every time I had to take score and give it. I was happy when he caught me giving the wrong score once. During severe weather, the caddie can help keep discs clean and dry – a huge advantage on wet days. Luckily, the weekend was sunny and windy so no need there.
  • Lastly, they are an extra set of eyes when it comes to lost discs or when you walk away leaving a disc or mini behind. I got 2 discs stuck in trees that weekend. The first one he was able to stay and knock it down for me as I continued to play.
Cons:
  • The caddie can become annoying and bothersome. This has a lot to do with the players expectations of their caddie. My wife has completely stopped trying to caddie for me because she continuously says she can’t read my mind. Which I agree. I can’t expect someone to do what I want them to do without telling them. This is where your game can suffer.
  • The routine or flow of your game can be thrown off. I’m so used to picking up my bag and stool that I often found myself grabbing it before my Dad. It took me a few holes to adjust. Your bag isn’t where you would normally have it: next to you. On several occasions I found myself with the wrong disc in hand and my Dad standing 50 feet away in the shade. I don’t blame him but it didn’t help me any. This can also happen if they get distracted by someone or their phone, if they wander off, or you have to get their attention.

Lining up a Putt Hole 2 at Auburn

Lining up a Putt Hole 2 at Auburn

I asked questions of the guys I played with and most players stated that they liked having a caddie. My Dad caddied for me once but he wasn’t a disc golfer so he couldn’t provide the greatest benefit – someone to bounce ideas off of, to help me talk through a situation. Initially, I thought a caddie would be great for the same reason most people said they liked a caddie – I don’t have to carry my bag. But, like Armando observed, this can really throw off your rhythm.

I followed the top 4 players for the Final 9 – nine extended holes for the top card to compete for the 3 trophies – congratulations to Sam Minges for taking home the 3rd place trophy in his first Final 9. All 4 players had caddies but they performed a far bigger function than just carrying the bags. Most of them discussed almost every shot with their golfer. One golfer’s wife or girlfriend was very involved. I could see her motioning with her hands for hyzers and pointing to different lines he could take. It seemed much like the TPC I watched today.

I’ve concluded that the right caddie can be instrumental in keeping the golfer calm and focused to the same degree the wrong caddie can damage a game.  Distracting the golfer at the right moment and refocusing the golfer when he or she needs it most is an invaluable skill. I don’t imagine you get that benefit from your buddy when he has finished his round and stayed to caddie for you for a few holes.  It is a relationship that must develop over time.  The caddie must know your game, know your tendencies, and anticipate your needs.

Mountain Golf in Flagstaff

Mountain Golf in Flagstaff

It is also not easy to be a caddie.  Several player/caddies indicated that it was very difficult not to be playing. A few commented that it was difficult to not interject what they would do in a particular situation. Stating that you as a player would take a forehand line through the left gap could be disastrous to the player that would rather take a spike hyzer approach over the tree on the right. I’m a very chatty golfer and don’t think I would make a good caddie without some serious training and time in with a single golfer.

Hopefully one day I can have a caddie who knows my game and my needs intuitively but that seems a long way off. I don’t yet always know my game and my needs – part of what happened at the Auburn Am the 2nd round. My next event is the Treebash in Flagstaff, AZ.  I can’t wait to go back to my old courses and show the fellas how far I have progressed, that I have a backhand I can actually throw in an event.

I’m almost done with The Inner Game of Golf and will have a review of the book for the next post. Time to clean up my approaches and straddle putts and keep practicing.

Until next time, Happy Golfing and Good Scoring.

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