Home…of Golf

This is a subsidiary website to my www.puttingsmart.com site. I intend this Wordpress birdiespin website to be a forum for random golf topics that I want to write about (‘spin’!) or extra nuggets about putting.

I may add more pages or extra information within a page from time to time. I write the articles raw and often come back to modify or improve them after publishing.

I write for beginners, for seasoned players and for those like me with a specific interest in all things golf. I have expertise from being a professional tour caddie for over 20 years and want to give you the spin from my own point of view – hence ‘birdie spin’.

Me ready to go - Athens 1999 (2)

How did you get into caddying and what interested you about it?
I turned up to simply watch a European Senior Tour tournament as a spectator, way back in the days when the pros were often carrying their own bags. I started by helping out the following week as a favour! I realized what a great chance to get inside the ropes, close to the action and become involved in aiding top pros. Now I get paid to take in fresh air, exercise and travel to different places. Tell me of a better ‘office’!
Do you ever wish you could hit some shots out there?
I love playing golf for myself, as a leisure activity. But when working, I never get the desire to want to take a shot: There is someone with me so much more talented and capable and competent in executing any given shot. It is great to witness the execution of a shot I could only dream about succeeding in, and to be a part of the team that produces that shot.
What is your favourite tournament to caddy in?
Oh that is a difficult one! The British Senior Open is, of course, very prestigious and I get to be out with legends like Gary Player. It is exciting to caddy on historic links courses. I like caddying in tournaments where ‘we’ are defending champion, like the Ryder Cup Wales Senior Open. On a more flippant note, I also love the Bad Ragaz tournament in Switzerland which not only has beautiful mountain views, but is preceded by a pro-am where we have a five-course meal, eating sumptuously every three holes!
What is your favourite thing about caddying out on tour?
The travelling is very alluring …and is a chance to meet new people. The Senior Tour players are all very friendly and it is like spending time with an extended family; we look out for each other, and sometimes get to see and do cool things outside of the course too. I love the anticipation and thrill of each round; the twenty foot putt that drops, the up-and-down, the high-cut that defies the wind, the measured bounce that sets up a birdie chance, all of which allow ‘us’ to increase our position.
Do you caddy for the same player all season or different players each event? 
Not all the guys take a regular caddy, preferring to cut costs with friends and family when available, or locals on cheap rates in the Far East. Not all the eligible seniors play every event so I need to be flexible too. I don’t mind adapting to a different player but it is a little like playing roulette. I get attached to a player and want him to do well. We get a good working relationship where I can read his thoughts and help out effectively when required. I might caddie for one or two different players in a season, and remain with them into the following seasons.
Why do you love golf?
It is challenging and exacting, unpredictable and creative. It involves finely tuned training and a small element of luck. It throws up some situations which need courage and precision and many which give rise to jubilation.
What was your first experience with golf? 
Ha! I have known putting all my life having spent every holiday (vacation!) as a child close to St Andrews. Unfortunately I did not link ‘putting’ with the strangely-dressed, serious-looking older folk striding down the grassy strips with oddly bulging bags near where I would be frolicking and picnicking in the sandy dunes!  It wasn’t until my mid thirties that I first picked up a real golf club and swung. I experienced beginner’s luck with my first three attempts soaring nicely into the air. Then I hacked, and the swing became a challenge for me to try and master. I had a continuing desire to improve which remains with me today….it is called ‘addiction’!
How is golf in the UK different from golf in the US?
The wind and weather!  I have to generalize here as there are nowadays so many varieties and styles of course in both UK and USA. First America tried to copy and ‘improve’ on UK courses and now UK are building ‘American-style courses! The courses are generally set up differently. As America has more space than UK, the courses in the US are less ‘cozy’: They often wend their way through a tract of land with vast distances between fairways (you can’t see other holes), and long paths green to tee, lending their design to the use of golf carts.
Many US courses strive to present perfect, pristine fairways by importing immaculate turf or planting specific ‘attractive’ grasses like Bermuda. USA tends to avoid imperfections on the fairways, whereas UK courses, in general, embrace the more natural look, using more indigenous grass which is less regular with thinner blades. We leave any bumps, lumps, slopes and natural features. Maybe it is because the USA has more space to ‘design’ from scratch with earth-movers and the Brits don’t want to alter the landscape too radically.  A typical UK links courses for example, just follows the existing landscape – usually in a chain of nine holes out, and nine in….(contending with opposite winds).American courses appear to be more length and target orientated, with strategically placed hazards and large multi-leveled greens. .
The carefully designed greens of some of the US courses are, in general, more receptive to pitching. The UK has more links courses – and near me, in Southern England, ‘down land’ courses, similar to links but atop of chalk hills. We bump and run a little more over here.
Where are you off to next?
At the moment our first 2 tournaments are scheduled for June in England; Melton Mowbray and Hexham – both of which I have done before. The European Senior Tour is constantly changing and being added to throughout the year, so there may be one before this. Otherwise I may check out the ladies’ schedule and offer my services for a few of their events.