We've come a long way, baby. Twenty years ago nobody knew our names, few people cared about what we said, and we caddies never, ever made any headlines.
It looks as though Tiger Woods' bagman Stevie Williams threw out an off-the-cuff personal opinion (probably supported by many caddies and players), someone ran with it, and now he's in a bit of a bother.
There are eggshells crunching as I write because Steve's an old friend and I'm not quite sure where to go with this.
There's a mantra out here that goes like this: "Dogs chasing cars, pros putting for pars, and caddies who think they're stars don't last long."
Steve's never wanted the limelight. In fact, I remember years ago his response to a fellow caddie after some verbal abuse was, "Cowboy, I just show up and caddie. I'm not worried about all the other stuff."
He's worked for all the big names, has numerous Ryder Cup appearances, and has never been afraid to speak his mind. I've seen him angry and ready to punch a boss, and I've seen him involved in a lot of charitable functions.
We used to run together a bit years ago when he worked for Raymond Floyd. Stevie's a good ol' boy who's had to separate himself from the rest of the caddies. You won't find him in the caddie wagon or at the local watering hole. His job keeps him from that.
Walking next to Tiger requires a different breed and he has to follow a much different schedule, often for security purposes. Plus, he's probably more recognizable than a lot of players.
Steve came up through the ranks, worked the parking lots looking for work when he was young and earned his status. Tiger came looking for him, he didn't go looking for Tiger, but that's another story. There are a few jealous caddies, but more admiration from his peers. He works hard, plays hard and has a good heart.
His counterpart, Jim "Bones" Mackay came out on tour 20 years ago with Larry Mize, hooked up with Phil Mickelson and has been on his bag ever since. Bones never stood in the parking lot jobless. He was one of the lucky ones. We used to play a little basketball together, and I'd consider him an acquaintance. He seems to be well respected by his peers, and runs with a tight-knit group of other premier caddies. He knows his job, protects his player also, and isn't afraid to voice his opinion with that big smile.
Stevie's job is safe, maybe a little slap on the wrist. I really don't think he has any worries, mate. If it had been any other caddie, this never would have made the papers anyway. You wouldn't believe some of the things I've let slip and had to answer for them only a couple of times. We've all had the "need to quiet down, what happens between the ropes stays between ropes" speech from our pros. Good caddies aren't fired for isolated instances like this, and most of the time a firing occurs from on-course screwups.
Steve Duplantis, (aka Asbestos/Teflon -- rest his soul) was late 23 times before Jim Furyk dismissed him. I am sure of one thing, though. There's probably been a couple of caddies throw their résumés Tiger's way already the vultures.
As caddies, we're supposed to show up, keep up and shut up (we add in "put up"), but it's tough.
There are a lot of fans who want the scoop and they'll pick our brains for any little tidbit. Many times I've had to catch myself, or tell someone "You can't repeat this." We have to be very careful.
And now with the Internet, it's really dangerous. It seems as if everyone is a reporter, so mum has been the word lately. It's a shame this is getting more airtime than Steve's other endeavors this time last year. The latest was a story about him donating a cool $1 million to a local New Zealand hospital. But that got only a small blurb somewhere.
It'll all shake out and add just a little fuel next year. It's not a bad thing, just unfortunate. We don't have to like each out here, but we do have to get along in a professional manner. All will be forgotten (maybe) at tee time.
Mark Huber can be contacted at email@example.com