Spending a day caddying for PGA Tour star Harris English
06 Jun 2014
by Pete Wlodkowski of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Founder's Blog

Sometimes I like to step away from covering the amateur game to check out life on the PGA Tour. So when I saw the chance to bid on an “SPG Moments” auction for a chance to caddie for Harris English in a Tuesday pre- tournament practice round in Memphis, I jumped at the chance to put my Starwood Preferred points to work. I walked away with a new respect for Tour caddies, and with a reminder of the all the preparation that takes place before we ever watch the final round on Sunday TV.

Much of the Tuesday action is on the range, where players get plenty of attention from manufacturer “Tour reps” who help them tweak their equipment. The only problem from a caddie perspective is that putting all the extra clubs in play makes the bag pretty heavy – as they saw the four Odyssey putter covers in English’s bag the other caddies ribbed me and told me they call it “20-Club Tuesday.”

At the FedEx St. Jude Classic Tuesday is a player and caddie favorite because True Temper Golf Shafts -- whose headquarters is right on the TPC Southwind course -- hosts an annual barbecue for players and caddies called “Rendezvous on the Range.” The owner of Memphis’ most famous restaurants himself was out to preside over the festivities.

On the course, I don’t think there is as much “action” as we’ve all heard about – the big money games are probably reserved for Phil and friends. My player English, along with his long time friend and college teammate Hudson Swafford and former Duke player Wes Roach, played a $10 skins game – no carryovers. (English doesn’t like carryovers.)

Here are a few other things I learned spending the day with Harris English:

• He is plenty long with his irons, but it isn’t the number of the club he’s hitting as much as the trajectory and distance control that’s impressive. He hit’s a 4-iron higher than most people hit an 8-iron, but can easily dial down the flight and distance of his short irons.

• English’s regular caddie Brian Smith was following (making sure I didn’t do anything stupid or run out of gas) and I noticed he almost always gave him the front-of-green yardage as well as the full yardage. It reminded me of how important that is, especially on firm greens or longer shots.

• The one “big picture” thing I learned carrying English’s bag is that he keeps things simple. Once he decides on a shot he commits, and executes without much fanfare.

• Finally, none of the three we played with were slow- they hate that some practice rounds on Tour take forever and enjoyed the empty course we had in front of us at TPC Southwind.

I would love the chance to caddie again, and if you’re up for carrying a Tour staff bag I recommend checking out the charitable organization “Caddy for a Cure” at www.caddyforacure.com. And don't forget to look into a Starwood Preferred Amex card - they are very creative about reward options as evidenced by my use of points for something I'm passionate about. Other "SPG Moments" include golf outings with PGA and LPGA pros, chances to attend majors like the British Open, and backstage meet-and-greet opportunities at various live performances.
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