Stop letting caddies diddle around with your balls

Update: October, 22/2017 - 09:00
Viet Nam News

Robert Bicknell, who is not too tightly wrapped to begin with, starts to become unglued when caddies spend too long lining up putts for players, or worse.

One of our old friends, Simon Tinkler, who is managing the new Yen Dung GC in Bac Giang, sent me a Facebook post he found regarding slow play. As any club manager/golf director in Viet Nam will tell you, this is one of the biggest problems on the course.

Many have tried to fix it by using Race of Play guidelines, increased course marshalling, and even fines and warnings, but it seems to fall on deaf ears for the most part. However, Simon’s post points out something that, to us, is a bit obvious, but is something players should understand.

Simon’s post:

“HELP REDUCE SLOW PLAY To the Manufacturers of golf balls. Please remove that stupid line that is supposed to help golfers line up their putts. Here in Vietnam and many parts of Asia, the caddy lines up the putt for the golfer, using the line on the golf ball. That takes up to two minutes. Then the golfer does exactly the same, as much as another two minutes. With four golfers, that can be as 10 t0 15 minutes PER GREEN!! Remove the mark line and help to speed up play, please. To golfers, just ask the caddy for the line and line up the putt yourself. If we can save even 5 minutes per hole, that is 90 minutes off the round, ie. 3 ½ hours and not 5. And it is much more enjoyable for everyone. Vietnamese golfers play very quickly from tee to green, it is on the green that the most time is taken.”

OK, first of all, I have yet to see a ball manufactured with a putting line on it. There might be one, but I haven’t seen it. What I have seen are the little kits you can buy in most pro shops which include a plastic template and a marking pen, so players can do it themselves.

Another of my old friends from high in the hills of Da Lat, Grahame Harris (who is still alive and kicking, thank you very much) actually hates caddies lining uop the putt for players. He believes the players should do it themselves, both to speed up the game and because it should be the player’s responsibility. I agree with him on both points.

For the record, his caddies still read the greens and line up the putt for the players. You cannot break people of this habit without a stun gun.

My personal view is that the player should line up the putt themselves based on their own judgment and with some advice from the caddie.

The reason for this is that the caddie might tell the player “right to left, one cup” but the caddies doesn’t know with how much speed the player will putt the ball. At a lower speed, the putt might break 10 inches, at a higher speed, the putt might break 4 inches.

So, unless the caddie works for that player for a long time and understands his player’s style of putting and how he thinks, there is no practical way for the caddie to give a player an absolutely correct line.

The caddie might be visualizing one thing, the player another.

My other quack is that the “player is responsible for what he/she does out there.” The caddie is allowed to “advise”, but it is the player who must actually make the shot. The game relies on the skill of the player, not the caddie.

There are some players who drive me straight over the edge.

Not only do they have the caddie line up every putt, but also have the caddie tee up the ball and align the clubface towards the target for the player, who finally gets off his dead ass, walks over grips the club, makes a swing, hands the club back and walks over to his portable stool to sit down again and yak on his phone.

I was playing in a charity tournament in Thailand when someone in my group was doing this and I nearly lost my mind. Needless to say, if someone tries to do this at my course, they will be dragged into the trees, clubbed in the head and buried deep.

I have 200 hectares and an excavator. Don’t piss me off.VNS