At next week's Shell Houston Open, the PGA Tour and NBC will experiment with putting microphones on caddies to capture the dialogues between caddies and players. The Tour and the network are interested in learning if the audio quality and, more importantly, the conversation quality are worth putting on the air.
You and I won't hear any of it, most likely. It is just an experiment, after all. The Tour isn't very comfortable with trying something in front of an audience. If it is a success, it will probably be a few weeks before we get to listen in. The Masters is not about to allow mics on the caddies. After McCord got banned from Augusta by saying that they used bikini wax on the greens, can you imagine what might happen if the caddies had mics?
If we went back in time and could mic some specific caddy-player moments, that would be fun. Ian Woosnam's caddy asking, "Why are there two drivers in the bag?" Bones saying to Phil, "If I were you, I'd go ahead and hit the big dog again. One of these is going to go straight."
OK, I made that last one up. The point is, the caddy-player exchange is likely only riveting (after the initial novelty wears off anyway) at a few points in a season. The rest of the time, the conversation is likely to be fairly banal.
And that's why I suspect this experiment is either going to fail (ie., they never use it in a telecast) or it will generally be boring television. The problem is that if the caddies know they are wearing mics (and they will), they are not going to say much that is controversial or colorful (except for a few who might take the opportunity to audition for their own series). As a rule, when the boom mics are around caddies know to watch their mouths. That will probably carry over to when they are actually wearing the mics themselves.
Few of the caddies on tour seem to have a whole lot of input into their boss' rounds. Jim "Bones" McKay seems to offer more opinions to Mickelson than most caddies do to their players. Of course, Mickelson doesn't seem to heed his advice all that often. Steve Williams also seems to offer a few meaningful tidbits during a round, but they are usually in a creole of Kiwi and Kryptonian (presumably Tiger's native language), which makes it difficult to follow.
Besides giving their guys yardages and the occasional brief pep talk, what do caddies and players talk about? I bet it's not often golf. They spend enough time together during practice rounds, on the range, and in the two or four tournament rounds to discuss golf down to the level of minutiae.
No, I suspect players and caddies talk most about other sports, the economy, cars they'd like to drive, the restaurant they ate at last night, the latest episode of 24, what the kids have been up to, fly fishing, and how mad the wife was with them last night. In other words, pretty much what you talk about during your round. Oh, they might talk about "the hot chick in the yellow dress behind the green" for "the cart girl in tight shorts," but other than that I bet it's pretty much the same.
Hearing these conversations might be interesting at first, but it's not going to make for great television in the long run. Still, it's fun to imagine what caddies might say when the mics are on.
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