Scotsman Craig Connelly has been a caddy on the PGA and now The LIV tour for 27 years. In that time he has carried the bag of three top players – Paul Casey, Colin Montgomerie and Martin Kaymer with whom he has twice been a Major winner.
He is a former Caddy of the Year and has caddied at August 15 times as well as at numerous Ryder Cups. While Kaymer recovers from wrist surgery he is sitting the Masters out this year. But from experience he knows as well as anyone how tough it is and the mental and physical demands it places on everyone involved. He first caddied at Augusta in 2005 with Casey.
- Will there be any fall out at the Masters?
- What’s different about being on the LIV tour?
- There is a sense of circling the waggons.
- Your pick this year?
- Locker room like at the Masters?
- Is the Masters the best?
- How demanding is it?
- The Masters must have its own unique pressures?
- How far do you walk on a round and how heavy is the bag?
- Highlights at Augusta?
- Can he win again?
- The secret of winning the Masters? What does it take to win it?
- How do you caddy a player to a Major? You’ve done it twice.
- What is a caddie’s role on the home stretch of a Major when the big prize is within reach?
- Favourite hole at Augusta?
- What makes Augusta so challenging?
- Has the Masters changed in the 15 times you’ve caddied there?
- You’ve carried for three very different characters. Do you have to adapt accordingly? Be able to read their mood?
- What were Paul, Monty and Martin like?
Will there be any fall out at the Masters?
The Masters, especially the Masters with all its history and tradition will not tolerate any misbehaviour or inappropriate chit chat.
I’d like to think everyone is big and grown up. The Masters just won’t let anything untoward happen. And the fan whatever they think, if they misbehave they are ejected. It’s quite simple.
What’s different about being on the LIV tour?
I know how Martin feels. People have their own reasons for doing it. Those reasons aren’t the same for everybody. For people it has been the right time in their lives to make the switch. Martin didn’t have his PGA card when he decided. At the time he was asking for PGA invites and not getting them. Then this opportunity comes along and we will guarantee you X and Y then for some. Everybody is tarred with the same brush ( as money grabbers) but that isn’t the case.
I would be lying if you don’t talk about the prize money. Every week 48 guys are being paid and so you’re guaranteed a pay cheque. No matter what job you’re in, that’s fantastic. You are not worried about the cut. You’re getting all expenses paid. The whole intimacy of last year and the sense of togetherness has been great. It takes you back to the old days when you all travelled together, always in the same hotel. That doesn’t happen on the PGA Tour when you fend for yourself.
There is a sense of circling the waggons.
We haven’t been to a tournament yet when we have experienced any hostility. If that is going to happen, that is still to come. Martin is out in Palm Beach and practices at the Bear’s Club. He has relationships with Rory, Fitzy and a lot of the guys who practise there. He’s chatting away to these guys. The two camps are just defending their individual camps.
Relationship between LIV and PGA caddies?
We are all in the same job. If Martin and I ever split up and someone from the PGA or European Tour were offered the job, there would be a queue a mile long. You see the prize fund every week. It is business as usual. People know what they want and their own thoughts and beliefs, at the end of the day if you’re a golf caddy you want to caddy for the best player you can and make as much money as you can.
Your pick this year?
You have always got to look at Rory who is bang in form. Do I expect him to feature this year? Absolutely 100%. That said, the depth of talent is incredible now. Anyone in the top 50 can definitely win.
You don’t have to look too far from the world’s top ten. You might think that is an easy answer. With how these guys are playing it is hard to see a winner coming from outside of that. But in saying that you’ve got DJ, Bryson, and Patrick Reed is never far away. Maybe that’s me wishful thinking with my LIV hat on wanting one of them to win!
Locker room like at the Masters?
There is huge anticipation in the locker room. It is different because everyone knows how demanding it is. It’s been the graveyard for a few caddies down the years. It is a great place to be. Great camaraderie. As much as you’re going up against each other you’re all in the same job and know you can get hired and fired on a whim.
What were Paul, Monty and Martin like?
He will be back. He is just trying to get himself fit after this wrist surgery. He just doesn’t want to come back too soon. He has had to go to LIV tournaments because he is captain of a team. But not being able to play is soul destroying. He’s just trying to find the right moment to come back. Once he is back and has some tournaments under his belt I am sure it won’t be long before he is back to the Martin we know.
Is the Masters the best?
They have overhauled the facilities for caddies and it is fantastic. It is a place that I will miss going to. I haven’t been there for a couple of years. But for me it is obviously one of the best weeks of the year, albeit that it is physically tough and mentally draining.
It is not until you walk to the golf course side of the club house for the first time that you go, ‘Wow. So this is what it is all about.’
There’s the 18th, there’s the big leader board, everything you have known your entire life watching on television. The greens are so undulating, when you see them it beggars belief. You think, ‘How am I going to get this right? How do you read these greens? How do you even get the club to even get them on the right side of the hole?
How demanding is it?
It is very tiring. From the moment you walk off the first tee you walk into a little valley 100 yards off the tee where you’ve got to climb up a hill. You get a reprieve on the second because it is all downhill but you know you have got to go back up soon.
From a playing point of view you never get a flat lie. They are always side hill lies, walking on reverse cambers.
What’s a typical day at the Masters like for a caddie?
It depends on your pro’s tee time. If you get a morning tee time there’s no chance of walking the course. If you have a later tee time you can go out and see where the holes are located, where’s a good place to leave it if you’re unsure of club selection. You think; are you better going long or short, left or right?
In the Majors you don’t get the pin placed until the same morning. So there’s always a Wattsapp group or chat going on and someone who’s been up early enough will send you the hole locations.
If we were off at 2.30 with Martin or Paul you would usually go and meet them an hour or so before. If it’s later in the afternoon you’ll go a few hours earlier, maybe go and hit some balls, then have some lunch then start your warm up and do a bit of putting.
I will always get up early. Ease into the day and liaise with the pro as to what they want to do.
The Masters must have its own unique pressures?
It does. You always want to perform on the biggest stage and without doubt that is the biggest stage. It is so unique and such a special place. As a caddy you can never dictate how things are going to go. You just go about your normal preparations and fingers crossed you have a good week.
I have never had the chance or the pleasure of being in contention coming down the stretch. I got close with Paul Casey and we were a few shots off the lead heading into the final round but a bad start took us out of contention. I’ve never been in contention for the backwards stretch. I would love to. Hopefully one day I will get the chance.
There’s been a few times when I was among a group who are last out and you finish pretty late. The rounds are very long at Augusta , five hours. So if you finish at 7.30 you have some food, go to bed and do it all again the next day.
How far do you walk on a round and how heavy is the bag?
I have never weighed it but I’d guess it’s about 30 lbs. It is anywhere between seven and ten miles you walk. It is so undulating. You have to have the gith footwear because if your foot slips you could turn your ankle easily.
Highlights at Augusta?
Martin has always struggled around Augusta. But once he finished a round with five birdies in six holes. And we were keen and eager to go straight back out because he felt he has sussed the place out.
One time paired with Paul Casey and Aaron Baddeley and Tiger. Paul was in good form, he had that great draw, Bads was a top 20 player at the time. Paul shot 78 the first round and wasn’t pleased. It was the Masters that Zach Johnson won in 2007. It was cold, windy and the course was rock hard. It was one of the more challenging tournaments we’d been to. On the Friday, Paul shot four under, and it was a master class. Tiger came off and told the press it was one of the most impressive rounds he’d ever seen around Augusta in those conditions. I know Tiger was not saying that of me he was saying that for the person I was caddying but I felt pretty proud.
I’ve been up close and personal with him. I was very lucky when with Paul we were paired with Tiger quite a lot. To see him up close is remarkable. Just being around him was something special especially now he is not the Tiger that we all saw in the early 2000s. Injuries have blighted his career. Just getting a chance to be on the golf course with arguably the greatest of all time was very special, especially at Augusta.
In 2019 I remember I was caddying for Brandon Grace. We were on the golf course while Tiger was winning the tournament because we’d gone off two tees. We finished and got to see the last two holes. Just to be there and hear it is something special when on the golf course on the opposite side and you can feel the golf course shake and move because of Tiger and the sheer volume of noise from the galleries. People might think I’m sensationalising it but I’m really not. Until you experience it is incredible.
Can he win again?
He’s been written off before and proved people wrong. He was injured then but made his comeback. But he had two good legs but now he doesn’t if you know what I mean. You hear so many stories of how exhausting and how painful it is for him. He always goes it at 100 %. I am sure if he thought he had no chance in winning the Masters then he wouldn’t be there. He is not going to go just to make up the numbers.
Would you have liked to have caddied for him?
Absolutely. I don’t think there’s a caddy or even a few golfers who would like to have caddied for him!! You could only learn from the experience. It’s the psyche of it, his belief, the drive and his
The secret of winning the Masters? What does it take to win it?
Taking your chances when they come your way. Not trying too hard, desperately wanting it. Just let go and play, which is easier said than done. The thing about Augusta is you have got to be patient. You can’t be gung-ho because it can bite you any time. From the first hole there’s no let up.
One wrong shot and you’re in trouble. For example, on the second if you pull your drive you are in trouble. I remember when I first went there with Paul. As we walked along, he pointed out: ‘That’s The Delta check in desk over there.’ I asked him what he meant. He said, ‘Go in there then you’re going home!’
I said, ‘Ok I won’t put that in my yardage book!’
You have got to putt extremely well. You cannot afford an off day or week. You have to hole some putts. It is patience one shot at a time.
How do you caddy a player to a Major? You’ve done it twice.
Have him play well! The first time everything came really fast in 2010. I first picked up Martin’s bag at Wentworth in the May and by August he was holding the US PGA trophy. We had to have some luck come our way in the US Open in 2014. Bubba Watson handed it to us in the play off by trying to hit a ridiculous shot from the rough. But Martin did play incredibly well.
What is a caddie’s role on the home stretch of a Major when the big prize is within reach?
Trying to stay calm, calmer than you are feeling inside. It is really about going about your business. For me, don’t be scared about making a mistake. If you feel that your player has the wrong club, then you step in. For me just doing your job. You must never be scared to speak your mind to you pro. Once you start being scared that’s when you make mistakes.
At the US Open in 2014 Martin blew everyone out of the water. He played sensational golf. He never missed a putt, it was just incredible. If it had been Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy who played that way we ‘d still be talking about it today. It was our second time working together. It was about being in the right place at the right time with someone you’re with who knows what it takes to win one. Winning is not easy. I’m carrying the bag. Some players find the occasion just gets the better of them.
Favourite hole at Augusta?
The 12th probably. It is just incredible. It is so innocent looking., You have got a nine iron in your hand or a pitching wedge, so what could go wrong? The answer is, “Everything!”
Standing on the tee you’ve got your compass point, you’ve got your wind map, you ‘ve just played the 11th so you should know where the wind will be and you look across you and feel the wind’s doing something different. The flag on the 11th is suddenly doing something different. People say it is a masterpiece of design, but those trees weren’t very big when they first built the golf course! That’s all I’m saying. I think Bobby Jones was fortunate the trees grew!!
What makes Augusta so challenging?
It is everything. The wind plays such a big part. You have your weather map, your compass point and now nothing is left to chance. Before you go out there you have got all sorts of weather apps which can give you minute by minute weather. I sue weather.com and have done for 10 years. It’ll tell you what is going to happen, so you write that down because obviously you can’t take any device like that out onto the golf course. It is very very difficult to get close to some of those flag sticks. You only have to be out by inches and you’re left with an horrendous putt or a lay up or chip.
No-one can appreciate what it’s like until you’ve actually been there. It is all side hills, down hills and up hills.
Has the Masters changed in the 15 times you’ve caddied there?
The first time I was there, the second year of the big changes when it was what was called Tiger proofed. Every year they make subtle changes for instance with the pin positions. The biggest one for me has been 11 which is the second hardest in Masters history. It is now just a monstrous par 4. When it plays into the wind there is no let up. They don’t move the tee forward, as they would do on other regular PGA courses for fairness. Augusta won’t do that because they want it to remain the ultimate test.
You’ve carried for three very different characters. Do you have to adapt accordingly? Be able to read their mood?
Absolutely. That is what caddying is all about. Anybody can carry a bag and give a number for a club. More so nowadays it is all down to personalities. It really is. It is about gelling the two personalities together. You have got to remove your ego. We have all got one! If you want to work for a player you have got to adjust to them. There is no give. If you don’t like the way they work then its not the job for you. You have to adapt to them.
What were Paul, Monty and Martin like?
Paul was very into the detail. Very focussed. He wanted the finer details of things. Colin? I didn’t really work with him long enough to really get to know him. He was at the other end of his career, on his own back nine as they say. I was lucky I got him at a really good moment in his life. We won the second tournament together. So for a while I was golden boy?
Martin is just very down to earth. He takes responsibility for his every action. He is not looking to blame anyone else other than himself. Obviously there are times when I have made a mistake and it’s on me. The final decision always rested with him. And that makes the job a lot easier. As I’ve said you can’t caddy scared. So, speak your mind and if he is wanting to take that on board he will.
When I started with Martin nothing got to him. If he started with a bogey he just got on with business.