More to a caddie than lugging a bag

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 April, 2007, 12:00am

As the European Tour stars roll into town with their caddies, most of their rivals on the Asian Tour will be relying on family members or one of the Shanghai Silport Golf Club's bag carriers.

The Open champion will receive a record cheque for US$333,330. His caddie will get a percentage, probably between 10 and 15 per cent, and a tip. But should the champion use one of the club caddies, his fee would be just 1,500 yuan, plus tip.

'We are not allowed to receive tips from members and guests, but we are permitted to enjoy a gift from the professionals in the Volvo China,' a club caddie said.

Ippei Fujimuro, the caddie for absent defending champion Jeev Milkha Singh, might feel the pinch by following him to the Masters. Fujimuro earned under US$5,000 for his work at Augusta, but stood to bank about US$50,000 had the Indian become the first to successfully defend his title.

'There is no set amount,' say Bertrand Cornut, caddie to Frenchman Christian Cevaer. 'It is up to each caddie to negotiate.'

Like many caddies, Cornut is an ex-pro, having had played on the European Challenge Tour.

'It certainly helps to have a professional insight, but out there you are coach, friend, adviser, psychologist, waiter, valet, the lot,' he said. 'Yardages are vital, and as an ex-pro I can suggest club selection.'

One of the most interesting pairings on the Asian Tour is the husband and wife Australian team of Terry and Monique Pilkadaris. Terry was fifth on the Asian Tour UBS Order of Merit in 2004 and 2005, earning US$488,000.

'Monique is a qualified psychologist, which helps a great deal,' Terry Pilkadaris said. 'She reins me in when I'm flying, lifts me when I'm down.'

The marital arrangement can be tricky though. Indian star Amandeep Johl tells this story about his caddie-wife, Davin: 'We were playing in Malaysia and I was in the rough. We disagreed about what club I should play. I followed my own judgment and stayed in the rough. The last words I heard were, 'I told you so', before she walked off the course.'

Zhang Lianwei, who won the event in 2003, was once a caddie at the Shenzhen Golf Club. 'I learned so much as a caddie and it stood me in good stead in my professional career,' he said.

One of the most remarkable relationships was formed at the inaugural China Open in Beijing in 1995. Yang Hongmei, then 18, was working as a caddie at the Beijing International Golf Club when eventual winner Raul Fretes was assigned her for the week.

'We spoke a little during the round and she had a bit of golf knowledge, but there was a language barrier,' he said. 'I recognised Yang when she won the IOS Futures Golf Classic in 2004. Now she is at the LPGA Qualifying School. I thought I might call her up and ask if she is looking for a caddie,' joked Fretes.