Argentina’s Fabian Gomez continues a strong tradition of childhood caddies who have grown into Masters golfers

It happened more in the past than it does today, but many of the world’s greatest players, many of the past Masters champions, came into golf by caddying.

Gene Sarazen started when he was only seven; Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan were not much older when they carried bags together at Glen Garden Golf Course in Fort Worth, Texas.

Bernhard Langer was eight when he first caddied at Augsberg Golf Club, where he earned a reputation for being the best at finding stray golf balls, while Arnold Palmer combined caddying with an assortment of jobs around the club at Latrobe Country Club in Pennsylvania, where he grew up working for his father.

And Fabian Gomez, twice a winner on the PGA Tour in the past year and a Masters rookie this week, started caddying at Chaco Golf Club in Argentina when he was eight.

“Being a caddie was the best way for me to earn some money, particularly as I lived next to the course,” Gomez, 37, tells Golf Monthly in an exclusive interview.

“The caddies could play on the course when it was closed on Mondays, and once I reached 14 I was showing some potential and so the club let me caddie until 4pm, usually for the same member, and then play afterwards, every day.”

Chaco remains the only 18-hole golf course in the city of Resistencia and it is the same course on which fellow Masters rookie Emiliano Grillo grew up.

Gomez drove up Magnolia Lane for the first time in his life on Sunday, and the day before patrons were allowed through Augusta’s gates he enjoyed the luxury of playing the back nine in peace and solitude.

“It is amazing to be at Augusta for the first time,” says Gomez. “Everything here is like nothing else I have seen, like no other golf course or tournament. Everywhere you turn it is like a perfect picture.

“On 16 I practiced the chip that Tiger holed in the final round when he won in 2005. I didn’t hole it though.”

But that’s fine. No need to use up the good shots in practice.

Robin Barwick travelled to the 2016 Masters with Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz is global sponsor of the 2016 Masters Tournament