Linn (the Growler) Strickler is the elder statesman of Tour
caddies. Since joining the Tour in 1973 he has worked for, among
others, Fred Couples, Payne Stewart and Tom Watson. Strickler,
50, who caddies for Ben Crenshaw, got his nickname for the way
he sounds when he asks fans to make way for his player.
The biggest change I've seen is how ridiculously easy the job has
been made. When I started, the only yardage markers were at 150
yards and you were responsible for measuring the distances with
your stride. Today a caddie can buy a detailed yardage book,
count on every sprinkler head to have a yardage on it, and use a
laser range finder if there's any doubt.
Most of today's caddies are competent, but some of them spell
caddie with a k. Meanwhile, a lot of guys from my era are
standing in the parking lot on Tuesday morning, hoping someone
gets fired. I don't blame the players. They saw John Huston put
his golf-challenged sister on the bag in Hawaii two years ago and
set the Tour scoring record. There is a price to pay for selling
experience short, though, and it comes on Sunday. That's when a
real caddie knows to say the right thing at the right time, knows
how to help a pro who is choking get to the house. Real caddying
is a dying art.