LPGA Caddy Relationships Already Hard – But a Marriage?
Eleanor Roosevelt let fly with a clever quip in her day, although it has a ring of incorrectness for the modern day that I can’t precisely put my finger on. She suggested that women are like teabags – you never know how strong they are until they are in hot water. I will put Roosevelt’s observation in a concentrated context. A professional golfer on the LPGA tour is under a bunch of pressure, keeping her cool and perspective in a delicate and sometimes volatile relationship with a male caddie. Such a partnership has been likened to a marriage, squeezed as hard as it can be squeezed, then let loose in a three hour round of 18 competitive holes. If it goes well, it can last four days.
The personality variables are endless, all the subtleties in the way people are, and how they relate, Knowing one’s job and proper place in the endeavor is a must. If the same status is unfamiliar at home, it is a rare male who can adjust to a special situation. To stay productive in a round of golf, the minute tones and signals in which life partners speak with each other must be carefully honed and preserved. A Golfweek article on the subject cites several different scenarios. Some partnerships reflect a marriage in which a couple spends far too much time together. The opposite is also true, and a few can’t seem to get enough of each other. There is no perfect recipe. Like everything else, you just hope that you’ve gotten the ingredients and ratios right. without too much boiling or stirring.
Golfweek’s example of Pernilla Lindberg and her husband paints the rare picture of an almost infallible sense of trust from player to spouse/caddie. Lindberg observes how she missed him, and wanted him back on the bag. He knew her game, she remarked, as well as she did. I can’t imagine that occurs very often. It is that “hot water” where all the cracks can be exposed, all the mutual insecurities, and any little thing that one has done or said in the past week that continues to bug the other. Any little jealousies that might arise from one not making it on his tour while she thrives on hers requires some real maturity. The LPGA tournament is a nearly weekly event through a good chunk of the year. In between is travel, elusive ups and downs of preparation, and family stuff, sometimes children. These couples are usually in their 20s, when so many of life’s biggest decisions are to be made, and some of the most significant mistakes.
Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t in the same sort of hot water. Her husband had a nifty job managing a chunk of the North American continent, and his salary was both good and steady. Such is not necessarily the case with professional touring golfers. Even if carrying the bag Thursday through Sunday is working out all right, the player is under pressure to excel consistently for the financial well-being of her little collective. The ensuing stress of an erratic relationship can manifest itself physically, and holding on to a professional level golf swing is hard enough without nervous tics and distracted thinking are present. You don’t need to add car payments and debt management to it. Better for the man to have something dependable going on, just like Mr. Roosevelt. A one-breadwinner marriage can be a scary one, especially if the putting goes on the blink.
I wonder if there is at times too much temptation to transition from caddie to golf coach. Man ‘splaining is one thing, but taking over another person’s game can get you a 78 for the day, a three-iron threateningly pointed in your direction, or even fired in front of the LPGA cameras. How many men can handle a thing like that?
At any rate, bless Pernilla Lindberg, her partner caddie, or anyone like them. She’s a world class golfer, and he seems to have the right sensitivities toward what is needed, or not needed. It’s never a sure thing. In the worst cases, a marriage can last fewer days than it takes to make the cut and get through Sunday. For others, neither one of them ever tires of it.