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THE FRINGE
Bailey on the Bag
What it's like carrying the clubs at a tournament for your SO
  BAILEY CHAMBLEE //9.13.2019



I loved everything about caddying for my husband in a professional golf tournament...except for that whole "carrying the bag" thing.

It's an integral part of the job—or so I’ve been told—and something I’m actively trying to get in a better head space about before my next loop.
 
Beyond that, caddying for Brandel at the Champions Tour's Shaw Charity Classic wasn’t much different from any other day we spend together.

I realized this about halfway through the first tournament round (my third-ever round on his bag, following two pro-ams earlier in the week).
 
He had grabbed a bag of mixed nuts at the turn for some mid-round fuel. No sooner had he unwrapped and eaten his snack than I grabbed the empty wrapper to dispose of. You see, this is what I do in our everyday lives: I get rid of any potential distractions—no matter how small—so he can stay focused on the task at hand.

As you may know, Brandel has a few things on his plate. In addition to my gently nudging him back into competitive golf, he works a full-time job as a Golf Channel analyst; has his own podcast; is writing a follow-up book to his New York Times best-seller, The Anatomy of Greatness; and has three kids and a wife to keep happy.

My role as caddie and spouse is to take care of the snack wrappers of his life so as to give him the best possible chance to succeed. And he does the same for me.

Of course, I had to get something out of the week, which is why I threw in a few light-hearted jabs from time to time—to keep him on his toes and to keep me entertained. After all, I did say my time caddying was just like any other day we spend together, wisecracks included.


The jab Brandel and I will remember most came during the second round. He began his round on No. 10 that day, and when he came to the par-5 18th, he was 1-over. The 18th has a creek that runs in front of the green, and during all the pro-am and practice round days, the tees had been moved back. Even the longest hitters on tour would have been hard-pressed to reach the green in two, so Brandel had only played it as a three-shot hole so far that week.

But during the second round, the committee had moved the tees forward. Brandel hit a great drive and had 245 yards left into the green—all carry, and a situation he hadn’t yet faced at the 18th that week. If he could get there in two, he could make birdie and get back to even par for the day.

As Brandel was mulling over what to hit, I deadpanned, “Well, are you a man or are you a mouse?”

He looked at me and burst out laughing. Once he composed himself, he pulled his 3-wood and hit a crisp shot over the creek and on a near-perfect line, just a few yards left of the pin.

He got an unfortunate break, though. Instead of it bouncing onto the green to set up an easy eagle attempt, his ball got caught up in the rough just short of the green. He caught his chip heavy and didn’t knock it close, and he wound up two-putting and walking away with a five.

A couple of holes later, he revisited how funny my “man or mouse” comment was, and then said, “Well, I guess I showed you. I’m a man.”
 
I hesitated for only a half-second, contemplating if this next comment was too much. Then I decided—just like Brandel had at 18—to go for it.
 
“Yeah, nice par.”


Brandel is teeing it up again this week on the Champions Tour at the Ally Challenge, but I am not on the bag.

No, not because of my incessant needling. It's partly because I’m still recovering (physically and mentally) from two weeks ago, but it's more that Graeme Courts, a former caddie of Brandel’s from his PGA Tour playing days, had reached out a couple of months ago to secure Brandel’s bag for this week.

I’m happy to relinquish the bag-carrying duties as I enjoy the action from outside the ropes. But the player-caddie partnership Brandel and I have established is the continuation of a beautiful friendship, and I foresee many more weeks when I’ll be back on the bag.

In the meantime, I need to work on my biggest weakness as a caddie, so I’m off to the gym. Today—and every day—is back and shoulder day.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Bailey Mosier 






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