AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Wednesday at the Masters for some caddies can be a day for relaxation. Like the quiet before the storm. In this case, there was an actual storm -- bad weather moving in and closing the course -- so I caught up with four caddies, drinking beer and talking about the Masters. Their insights into this week and this place for them will surprise you as much as it did me. As usual, all these juicy tidbits come because I guarantee their anonymity. Enjoy the 2017 Masters first installment of Caddie Confidential!
Collins: If your player plays in the Par 3 Contest are you happy to give the bag over to someone else for the day?
Caddies (in unison): Yeah. Oh, yeah. Hell, yeah! Of course.
Collins: Why Not?
Caddie 2: Who cares [about it]?
Caddie 1: You don't wanna win it.
Caddie 2: I'm not getting paid. There's no prize money for the par 3 tournament!
Caddie 3: He gets the crystal, not us.
Caddie 1: It's a long enough week, so it's a break.
Caddie 2: I mean it'd be different if the caddie got a crystal, maybe we might do it.
Caddie 1: Or a membership. [All four caddies laugh at the sarcasm.] It's a family thing.
Caddie 4: It's the one time of the year when the family and kids can be part of the spotlight.
Collins: So what do you caddies do Wednesday if you have the day off?
Caddies: Hang out in here.
Caddie 2: We just come hang out, eat, tell stories, talk smack.
Caddie 2 and 3: Go shopping, buy merchandise.
Collins: Do the caddies get a discount?
Caddies: [All shake their heads no, laughing at the stupidity of the question.]
Caddie 2: Get irritated with all the kids [hanging out in the caddie shack] running around acting terrible.
Caddie 3: Get irritated with them all up in our space. Cause they don't come in, get fitted, and leave. They take over. They think this is now their place.
Caddie 2: Can you tell he's bitter about it?
Caddie 3: It drives me nuts.
Caddie 2: Keep talking, keep going.
Caddie 3: It does!
Collins: What if they let the caddies do it in the players' locker room?
Caddie 3: It wouldn't happen! It wouldn't last a minute.
Caddie 2: Never.
Collins: What is the one thing Augusta National could change for the caddies that would make it even better for the caddies?
Caddie 3: Give us one guest badge or two for the week.
Caddie 1: I mean [at Augusta National] everything is regulated right? Your parking pass has a number on it. Your badge has a number on it, everything has a chip in it, so if you gave us a ticket, we're not going to sell it.
Caddie 2: It's going to go to a family member.
Caddie 1: Or somebody that really wants to go. I think it's different than it used to be. Everybody knows if you do something wrong here you don't get to come back, so nobody is going to.
Caddie 2: You don't wanna lose your privilege.
Collins: Wow, the caddie doesn't get one badge. So your wife or girlfriend can't come.
Caddie 3: Not unless you're a player.
Caddie 2: [In some sense] we're just lucky to get on property this week. You have to remember years ago we weren't even allowed on property.
Caddie 3: They used local [Augusta] caddies until the early '80s.
Collins: Are the local caddies bitter at all that you guys
Caddie 3: No, those guys are still working in here and they take great care of us.
Collins: So the Augusta caddies are cool with the touring caddies?
Caddie 3: They're awesome. Plus, at the end of the week we always take care of them [with a golf tip]. Grease 'em a little bit.
Caddie 2: We take care of these guys better than some players take care of the guys in the locker room!
Caddie 3: Unless you're Phil. [All four caddies smile and nod.]
Collins: What makes being a caddie this week so special at this place?
Caddie 1: When I put that white suit on I can go anywhere.
Caddie 2: Anywhere.
Caddie 3: That white suit is like gold.
Caddie 1: And even though I'm caddying, the members here, in the green jackets, they'll always say hello, or "Hi, how are you?"
Caddie 2: They all know your name. Granted, they have a "cheat sheet," but it's still impressive.
Caddie 3: And, "What can we do for you?"
Caddie 1: That is the one thing when you put that suit on.
Collins: So what's the downside?
Caddie 2: It's probably the easiest week of the year to get fired.
Caddie 2: It's tricky out there.
Caddie 1: It's a hard place to caddie.
Caddie 3: The trees, the wind, the swirls.
Caddie 2: The caddie has added pressure [of it being a major], you got swirling winds, the player has added pressure.
Caddie 1: It doesn't matter what you do Sunday to Wednesday, the course will be different Thursday and Friday. Then it will be different Saturday and Sunday. So you got all those variables.
Caddie 2: They always tease you Monday and Tuesday.
Caddie 1: It's not "tricked up," it just plays differently every day.
Caddie 2: They surprise you.
Caddie 4: There is no course in the world that changes more from Wednesday to Thursday than this one.
Caddie 1: And then from Friday to Sunday.
Caddie 4: They can change the course here from day to day more than any other course in the world.
Collins: Without the help of Mother Nature? [Caddies all nod ...]
Caddie 2: Let me put it this way; It's the only tournament in the world that we play, where depending on what the weather conditions are, if they want a target score to win, that's what we got. They can control that.
Collins: Any good caddie "jumpsuit" stories for this year?
Caddie 1: There's a caddie who went and had laser hair removal on his chest so it looks good on TV.
Caddie 3: I thought he had it waxed?
Caddie 1: No, he told me yesterday.
Collins: I'm going to have to verify that. [Note: The text I was sent from the caddie they named said he waxed it but he sent a pic that was not him. Not sure what to believe but I'll tweet out the truth when I find it.]
Collins: What's something that would surprise people about this place?
Caddie 4: The proximity of the holes to each other. You forget [that] when the crowd's out here. When you're here with no crowd there are holes like the 16th, 6th, and the 17th tee box ... all right there close to each other. But when the crowd's there ... you forget where you are sometimes. Like when you're going down 7 you're like, "Holy s***, there's 16 green or 17 tee box!" It doesn't seem like it.
Caddie 1: It doesn't matter what your expectations are of Augusta, it's better when you get here.
Collins: Which green is the toughest to read?
Caddie 3: Seventeen is pretty tough.
Caddie 2: Eighteen of them are pretty hard to read!
[Caddies all laugh in agreement.]
Collins: With the wind forecast for Thursday and Friday, will the 12th hole give caddies nightmares?
Caddie 2: The harder the wind blows, the easier the 12th hole will be to know where the wind will be coming from.
Caddie 2: It's when it's blowing 5-10 mph, you never know what's gonna happen.
Caddie 1: Or when it's hot and humid.
Caddie 3: I watch a guy hit three different balls; the same club, with the same swing, three different distances. Bunker short, bunker long, just barely (clearing) the bunker.
Caddie 1: The best shots I've ever seen on 12 are when people make a quick decision and don't change back and forth. You've got a better chance of hitting a decent shot.
Caddie 4: Just make a decision and go. If it's windy, that 5-10 mph, it's almost better, if your guy can do it, to hit some sort of flighted shot ... at least the wind is probably not gonna affect it. It might go a little bit long but at least it's not going to go up on the hill and it's not gonna sploosh!
Collins: Are there any holes at the Masters that get out of hand like the U.S. Open?
Caddie 2: The USGA lets all the holes get out of hand. Now you're comparing a shitty tournament to a great tournament.
Caddie 3: That doesn't need to be "confidential"!
Collins: But like the par-3 fourth hole ...
Caddie 3: If there was one hole on the golf course that I'd change, that'd be it. [The tee box] doesn't need to be back that far.
Collins: Is this the best major for a caddie to win?
Caddie 1: I'd have to say yes, wouldn't you? [Looking at the other caddies...]
Caddie 2: I don't know how you couldn't.
Caddie 3: The British is pretty good but ...
Caddie 2: Yeah, but if you get in the British, [ho hum] oh well ...
but if you get in the Masters ... cause we all watched it growing up ...
Caddie 3: No, I agree.
Caddie 2: The history, the allure, everything they've made it out to be, it an honor to wear the suit.
Caddie 1: Physically and mentally, it's the toughest. It doesn't matter how they set up the US Open, it doesn't matter how bad the weather is at the British, this is physically and mentally the hardest place to caddie.
Caddie 2: You never stop thinking.
Caddie 1: No. You're mentally wore out.
Not gonna lie, I'm jealous I never had the honor. Good luck Thursday, boys. I'm (we're) living vicariously through you!