I mentioned earlier that during my early years on the tour I often called my old college roommate, “Joe the Pro,” to caddy for me. He and I always had a great time on the course. He initially thought caddying would be a piece of cake—just a handful of guys walking around the fairways, shooting the breeze. But he soon discovered it actually involves a lot of skill and work.

Before I met him, Joe didn’t have much of a golfing background. He knew the basic rules, but he was often lost when it came to game etiquette or the fundamental courtesies of the course. As a result, a lot of the other players didn’t quite know how to handle him. Joe was also something of a cutup, and it spilled out onto the course. I liked his attitude, because it kept me from taking myself too seriously, but his antics didn’t always go over well with others, especially the other caddies on tour.

I remember playing in a tournament at Westchester in Rye, New York, with Joe on my bag. We were paired with Hubert Green and his long-time veteran caddy of ten years, a man named Shane. They’d won a lot of tournaments through the years, including the U.S. Open, and Shane took his role very seriously.


“The game is meant to be fun.”

–Jack Nicklaus 


Joe and I attended the University of Florida, and we were both rabid Gator fans. Joe knew that Hubert was an avid fan of Florida State—a Seminole—so around the second tee Joe started ragging on him. Joe continued to make comments to Hubert as we made our way down the course toward the third hole, taunting him about how badly the Gators were going to beat the ’Noles that season.

It’s kind of a given in golf that caddies are not supposed to bother the players during a round, but Joe didn’t understand this courtesy. Had I known that Joe was bothering Hubert, I would have stepped in and stopped him, but I was so busy focusing on my own game that I didn’t even notice.

On the third tee box, Shane grabbed Joe by the shirt and said, “Look, Hubert’s not interested in hearing about the Gators. He’s here to win a tournament.”

Joe got the message and backed off for a while.

Coming into the seventeenth hole, Hubert was one shot off the lead. We hit our tee shots, and then while making our way down the fairway, Shane came over to me and said angrily, “You’d better do something about your caddy. If he bothers Hubert one more time, I’m going to punch his lights out.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, so I asked Joe what had been going on. He laughed and said he’d just been having some fun with Hubert.

“What did you do to make Shane so mad?” I asked him.

He said, “Back on the sixth hole he was walking around with his chest stuck out, so I asked him, ‘Does this prancing around like a peacock come naturally to you, or do you have to work at it?’ He’s been mad at me ever since. And I guess he doesn’t like it when I talk to Hubert.”

Suddenly I understood why Shane wasn’t too amused.

The interesting thing was, Hubert didn’t seem bothered by any of Joe’s antics. In fact, I think one of the reasons Hubert had been playing so well was because Joe’s sense of humor loosened him up. But I decided I’d better keep my eye on things through the next few holes.

Hubert’s second shot on seventeen went over the green and nestled into the rough for an almost impossible lie. My shot left me a long putt for birdie. Then Hubert hit an incredible pitch shot to within six inches of the hole. It was a brilliant recovery. Shane stood on the edge of the green, holding the flag and grinning from ear to ear.

While lining up my putt, I looked over to see Joe slowly sneaking up behind him. Oh, no! What’s he going to do now? I thought to myself. Joe startled Shane by stepping up in front of him and then said something to him that no one could hear. For a few seconds they just stood looking at each other, and then suddenly Shane began to laugh out loud. They shook hands and we finished the hole. Hubert ended the day one shot off the lead.

When I asked Joe later what he had said to Shane, he told me, “I just told him that even though it’s been a tough day, I wanted to make sure we were still best buddies.” That totally disarmed Shane and erased any anger he might have had. After the round the two of them went out for drinks together.

Golf is a serious enough sport without our adding even more pressure on the course. The best approach to a round is usually to keep it light and to remember to have fun. To a lot of us, golf may be a business, but it’s still just a game.


Say What? 

One of the first times Joe caddied for me was during a pro-am at White Marsh, an old course located just outside of Philadelphia. While standing on the first tee, one of the players asked, “How far is it to the pin?”

Joe took a good look down the fairway and said, “Looks like about a block and a half.”

The funniest part is, he wasn’t joking.


One More Joe Story 

Of all the times I thought Joe was going to get me into trouble, the one that truly takes the cake was during a tournament at White Marsh when I was paired with Jerry Pate. Jerry had recently won the U.S. Open and was at the top of his game. We both started the tournament toward the top of the leader board, and he really had his game face on that day. I hoped and prayed that Joe would leave him alone and let him play, especially since I knew that Jerry was a big Alabama fan.


“Always keep it fun. If you don’t have fun, you’ll never grow as a person or a player.”

–Tiger Woods 


As always, Joe couldn’t stop talking about the Gators, and I could tell Jerry was getting a bit irritated. On the third hole, which is a really long par-3, we both pulled our shots a bit. Jerry was on the edge of the green, and I was in the bunker behind him. I hit a great sand shot to within four feet of the cup, and as Jerry was lining up to take his shot, I noticed Joe standing in the bunker raking the trap, totally oblivious to the fact that Jerry was about to putt. Jerry stood away from his putt and looked over at me, as if to say, “Where’d you get this guy?”

I went over and told Joe to get out of the trap and stand still until Jerry had finished his shot. Jerry ran his putt ten feet past the hole and then looked at me with disgust, like it was my fault. Then he ran his next putt four feet past the hole coming back. He was as hot as I’d ever seen him, and I prayed that he would make his next one and not end up four-putting. Thankfully, he nailed it.

I was terribly embarrassed about the whole thing, but Joe didn’t seem bothered in the least.

The fourth hole was a long par-4 that ran uphill, and behind the green was the ninth tee box. As I made my way over to the fourth tee box, I was thinking about what I could say to Jerry to apologize for Joe’s behavior, but just as we reached the tee, I looked around and Joe was nowhere in sight. Finally Jerry and I looked over, and there was Joe, standing on the ninth tee box with my bag, without a soul around him. Jerry looked at me in disbelief. I could tell he was thinking, “This guy doesn’t even know where the holes are!”

I was so embarrassed that I didn’t even bother to try and explain. Joe’s antics continued for the rest of the round, but fortunately Jerry was able to overlook them and concentrate on his game. Coming into the eighteenth hole, Jerry was one stroke off the lead and playing well. He hit his tee shot right down the middle, and I ended up in the trees. His second shot rolled to within ten feet of the pin on the backside. I hit mine over the trees to the front part of the green, and by the time I reached my ball, Jerry had already marked his and was squatting on the fringe, lining up his putt.

Joe and I didn’t know this, so Joe walked over to take the flag out of the hole. Jerry said something to him under his breath, and Joe began walking toward him to see what he wanted. “What’s wrong?” Joe asked him.

Jerry’s face was red with anger. “Not only did you step on my line, but now you’re walking right up it!” he scowled.

Then Jerry looked back over at me, to see what I was going to do about it.

I walked over and said, “Joe, you need to get off the green. Why don’t you give Jerry’s caddy the flag and go wait for me inside the scoring tent?”

As Joe walked off the green, I looked at Jerry and said, “I’m really sorry about Joe. I feel really bad about how he’s been acting.”


“Enjoy the game. Happy golf is good golf.”

–Gary Player 


While I was lining my putt up, I glanced past the hole toward the bleachers. Some sort of movement had caught my eye and I was trying to see what it was. Once again, it was Joe. Through the space between a spectator’s legs, I could see him squatting down behind the bleachers, peering at me through the small opening between the seats. A big grin was on his face. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I two-putted, then stood back and prayed that Jerry would be able to relax and make his putt.

Somehow Jerry was able to pull himself together and concentrate on his putt. He landed it in the cup to tie for the lead. I thought to myself, Thank goodness this round is over!

Afterward we all made our way into the scoring tent. I signed Jerry’s card and, while sliding it over to him, looked over to see Joe standing right over Jerry’s shoulder. I almost panicked. Jerry looked at him and said, “You again? What do you want now?”

Joe said, “I was just wondering if you had a caddy lined up for next week.”

Jerry burst out laughing. I think it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard. Thankfully, he was in a good enough mood after tying for the lead to forgive Joe, and we all walked away still friends.


Hogan Shocks the Gallery 

Ben Hogan was once paired in a charity match with Morris Williams Jr., Ed Hopkins, and Harvey Penick. Hogan was known as a man who loved to drink, but he had never been known to show up on the course under the influence. You can imagine the gallery’s reaction when Hogan showed up late to the first tee box, staggering, with a silly grin on his face and his cap on sideways.

All through the crowd, people could be heard whispering, “What’s wrong with Hogan?” It seemed obvious to everyone that he was drunk.

As he stepped up to shoot, his knees buckled while he was trying to put the ball on the tee, and he fell over. He struggled to his feet and then staggered to and fro while standing over the ball with his club. His first attempt missed the ball altogether. The crowd gasped at the sight of the great Ben Hogan whiffing his tee shot.

He grunted and accidentally knocked the ball backward off the tee. His caddy replaced it, and he took another swing. This time he topped the ball about fifty yards down the fairway. His playing partners hit perfect drives and then followed Hogan to his ball as the gallery followed. With his cap still sitting sideways on his head, he gave a mighty swing and sliced the ball toward the hole, but far off the fairway. The swing knocked his hat off, and his caddy quickly put it back on.

After several more shots, Hogan made it to the green. On his first putt he knocked the ball twenty feet past the hole. His second putt did the same thing, only in the opposite direction. He staggered toward the ball and hit again, but somehow this one landed right in the center of the cup. Hogan fell down trying to retrieve the ball from the hole. No one could believe what they had just witnessed.


“Golf is a great and glorious game. Even those of us who earn our livings at it play it more for the pleasure than for the money.”

–Arnold Palmer 


Suddenly Hogan jumped to his feet, straightened his hat, and said to his playing partner in clear English, “Okay pardner, it’s up to you on this hole. I’ll do it better from now on.” At that instant, the gallery and the other players caught on, and a roar of laughter went up into the air. He wasn’t drunk; he was simply entertaining the crowd.

Hogan had always been such a stern competitor that no one could imagine him as the course clown. But those who knew him well remember that off the course, he always had a great sense of humor. And obviously his acting skills weren’t bad either. Not one person on the course that day caught on to his little joke.