Love means never having to say you're sorry you chose the lob
This is an article from the March 27, 1995 issue
At last year's Nike Tour Texarkana Open, Skip Kendall was having a
round to forget. He had chili-dipped a half dozen approach shots
and was well over par by the time he reached the 18th hole. A nice
drive left him 80 yards to the pin. As he debated whether to hit a
56- or a 60-degree wedge, his wife, Beth, who doubles as his
caddie, laid out his options. ``You can either hit a hard 60 or
chunk a 56,'' she said, adjusting her long blonde ponytail. ``The
way you're playing, you ought to chunk a 56.'' Smiling at the
memory, Skip recently said, ``Just to spite her, I hit a hard 60
to two feet and made a birdie.''
Holy matrimony! When did pro golfers and their caddies begin
behaving like Al and Peg Bundy? Answer: the very first time a
golfer had the missus around to blame for his misses. Kenny Knox's
wife, Karen, was one of the first spouses to caddie regularly on
one of the big-time pro golf circuits, teaming with her hubby on
the PGA Tour in the '80s. Their working relationship raised a few
eyebrows. Playing golf for a living is hard enough without having
to lug around the old ball and chain. Furthermore, most people
head to the links to get away from their spouses. Nevertheless,
there are currently several couples proving that the family that
plays together can, in fact, stay together.
The longest-running union is LPGA standout Cindy Rarick and her
husband, Rick, who has been on the bag since 1985. The Raricks
love the arrangement, but both say it requires commitment and the
right personalities. And that having a sense of humor helps. A few
years back a young golfer-caddie sought the Raricks' counsel. ``I
told them to forget about it,'' Rick deadpans. ``It's the worst
kind of spousal abuse.''
For those who can hack it, there are plentiful rewards. The
economic benefits are obvious: Along with travel and lodging, a
caddie is one of a touring pro's highest weekly expenses. The Nike
Tour, with its mandatory caddie rule but relatively meager purses,
is home to a dozen wives and girlfriends who caddie. On the more
lucrative PGA and LPGA tours, there are only six full-time
husband-and-wife teams, and these couples are motivated primarily
by visions of Cupid, not dead presidents. ``You don't marry to
be apart,'' says Jill Briles-Hinton, a nine-year LPGA vet who has
teamed with her husband, Bob Hinton, for the past five seasons.
``We can't get enough of each other,'' adds Bob. Confirmation
comes on the 18th green, where this golfer and caddie share a
``A lot of caddying is just offering moral support and keeping
the golfer in the right frame of mind,'' says Mark Calcavecchia,
whose wife, Sheryl, has caddied for him on the Tour 15 times
since 1987. ``When I'm rantin' and ravin' out there, sometimes
all she has to say is, `Hey, you wanna go see a movie tonight?'
and that usually shuts me up.''
Emlyn Aubrey's wife, Cindy, spent 1993 and '94 caddying for him on
the Nike Tour and followed him this season to the PGA Tour. ``When
you're under pressure, you have to have someone that you're
comfortable with,'' Emlyn says. ``A pretty face doesn't hurt,
But on-the-job romances can be tricky. For instance, who's the
``On the golf course, I'm the boss,'' says Briles-Hinton, ``but I
make him feel like he is everywhere else.''
``Out there I call the shots,'' Skip Kendall says, ``but I'm
pretty sure it's the other way around most other places.''
What, then, is an appropriate title for a spouse-caddie?
``She calls me Babe all the time, especially when people are
around,'' Aubrey says. ``It drives me nuts.''
``If anyone is nearby, I'll call her Sheryl,'' says Calcavecchia,
``but out in the fairway it's usually Doll Face.''
``Punky,'' says Cathy Johnston-Forbes, is the favorite name her
husband-caddie, Foster Forbes, has for her.
Colorful language of a different sort can also be part of the
working environment. Before Sheryl Calcavecchia's first round as a
caddie, Mark gave her a warning. ``I told her she was going to
hear some language she was not accustomed to,'' he says. ``Since
then, I guarantee you she has heard every bad word in the English
language. But that's just the way competitive golf is.''
Most invective is directed inward, but occasionally a caddie gets
caught in the cross fire. Says Emlyn Aubrey, ``There are times I
want to get grumpy out there . . .''
``. . . and who better to get grumpy with than your wife?'' Cindy
On-course outbursts are not restricted to the men. ``I'm the
easygoing one, she's the intense one,'' says Skip Kendall. ``If
anyone cusses out there, it's her.'' Briles-Hinton will sometimes
warn Bob when she's feeling crabby. ``I'll say to him, `I'm in a
bad mood today. Whatever I say, I'm right. Even if I'm wrong, I'm
The important thing for these couples to remember is to not take
their work home with them. For some, that is impossible. LPGA
player Dana Dormann and her husband, John, tried working together
in 1991. They lasted two months. John now caddies for Meg Mallon.
Says Cindy Aubrey, ``It's not carrying around a golf bag that's
the big deal, it's being together 24 hours a day, every day. I
think most couples would kill each other.''
Those who successfully pull it off are virtually all of the
easygoing, type B persuasion. Most of the couples claim never to
quarrel. ``A marriage is gonna be the way it's gonna be,'' says
Johnston-Forbes. ``If a couple is going to fight, they don't need
golf to do it. And if you have respect for your spouse, then you
can draw the line.'' Still, occasional time off is appreciated.
``Sometimes in the evenings Foster will go with friends or some
other caddies to the bar for a beer, and I'll have an hour to
myself to watch O.J.,'' Johnston-Forbes says. ``It's nice.''
Who says chivalry is dead? Caddie-wives do. After a practice round
a few weeks back, Cindy Aubrey was trudging up the steep hill in
front of the clubhouse at Riviera Country Club when she was asked
whether her husband ever carries his own bag. ``Are you kidding?''
was her only reply. Worse yet, in 1990 Emlyn pulled a muscle in
his rib cage while picking up a suitcase, and he hasn't touched
one since, instead using Mrs. Aubrey as his bellhop. ``He's been
milkin' that for six years,'' Cindy says glumly.
But schlepping around swollen golf bags (which can weigh up to 40
pounds) is no sweat for the wives who caddie. Despite her petite
frame Cindy Aubrey is an exercise maven and proudly proclaims she
was a tomboy growing up. Sheryl Calcavecchia is a former aerobics
instructor and, according to Mark, ``a pretty tough gal.''
These women do more than just carry the bag. Nicki Stricker has
been calling the shots for hubby Steve, a five-year Tour vet,
since she asked him out for their very first date, in 1988. She
began caddying for him full time in 1993, and it's little wonder
that Steve listens up: As a Wisconsin senior Nicki finished fourth
in the Big Ten golf championships. ``I've been around golf long
enough and know Steve well enough that I know what to say and when
to say it,'' Nicki says.
Beth Kendall played in high school and, according to Skip, could
have made the Arizona State team if she had wanted to. Though she
plays infrequently now, Beth can still crack 80. ``People may
think that it's cute when she's out here,'' says Skip, ``but she
knows the game and is an excellent caddie.''
But competence doesn't necessarily translate into acceptance. Some
Tour caddies with long memories still recall derisively that
Calcavecchia was spotted raking his own bunkers some years ago.
Nicki Stricker says she feels just like one of the guys, but she
is in the minority. Beth Kendall has felt some hostility on the
course, and, says Emlyn Aubrey, ``Cindy gets a little nervous
sometimes when she's working with new caddies. They make her feel
like she has no business being out here.'' But Cindy says, ``I can
hold my own.'' During that practice round at the Riviera, it
certainly appeared so as she put the needle to six-year pro Ted
Tryba about his high profile on the singles scene.
After reaching the clubhouse, Cindy shrugged off the golf bag and
was relaxing when an unctuous club manufacturer representative
slithered up behind her, cupped her shoulders and said, ``These
are some broad shoulders, or should I say, some broad's
shoulders.'' Cindy rolled her eyes and smiled gamely, but she did
not seem amused by the harassment.
Men who caddie for their wives must deal with their own set of
criticisms, primarily that they are not fulfilling their
``ordained'' role as ``providers'' for their families. Never
mind that former New York Met Ray Knight, the 1986 World Series
MVP, caddied off-and-on for his wife, Nancy Lopez, in the late
'80's. The job still comes with a stigma.
At the PING/Welch's Championship early this month, Johnston-Forbes
shot a 75-78 to miss the cut by six strokes. Moments after the
second round, Foster Forbes was cradling a beer, watching his
beloved North Carolina Tar Heels play basketball on the tube and
trying, unsuccessfully, to keep a lid on his frustration. ``I've
never really been the breadwinner,'' said Forbes, who gave up his
job as a greenskeeper in Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1991 to caddie for
Cathy before marrying her in 1993. ``I miss having a career that's
my own. I feel like I'm just following her around. In my own
career I had control. Out here I have no control. If she doesn't
play well, then I'm not doing well either. And then everyone back
home thinks I'm out here on vacation.'' But soon Forbes revealed
why, in spite of all those drawbacks, he continues to stand by his
woman. ``If we're apart for even a day,'' he said, ``I miss
Swedish golfer Catrin Nilsmark's husband, Henrik Wicksberg, took a
six-month leave of absence from his job as a mechanical engineer
after they were married this January so that he could carry her
bag during her rookie year on the LPGA tour. ``It's working
good,'' Catrin says, ``but it takes awhile to get settled.'' Not
for everybody. Rick Rarick had been dating Cindy for a couple of
weeks when she invited him to caddie in a tournament in Hawaii in
February 1985, her rookie year. At that point her career earnings
totaled $0, and she had missed three straight cuts. Cindy finished
12th in that tournament, and the Raricks were married that
October. Rick quit his job as a real estate broker, and he hasn't
looked back. ``This is only a window,'' he says of his decade as a
caddie, during which his wife has won more than $1.4 million.
``It's not like I'm unemployable -- I can always go back and
become an attorney.''
Rick clearly enjoys his work. He can often be found chatting with
the galleries or shamelessly sneaking a rest in the shade during
rounds, and he radiates the enthusiasm of a schoolboy on a field
trip. ``This beats working,'' he says. ``I've sat behind a desk,
and it's no fun.''
He puts the job of the caddie-spouse in perspective, recalling
that at a tournament in Florida a few years back, ``a little old
white-haired lady'' asked him what his life was like. ``The pay's
lousy and the hours are long,'' Rick explained, ``but one thing
makes it all worthwhile.
``Sleeping with the boss.''