Golf Monthly's Jake O’Reilly was recently given the chance to spend the day as a European Tour caddie on the bag of Tyrrell Hatton during the British Masters’ Pro-Am, ￼but as he soon found out, there’s more to the job than just working out numbers...
Stepping onto the 12th tee we faced 303 yards of risk-reward golf at its best, and the type of hole where a European Tour caddie lives or dies by the decision he makes.
With water running across the front of the green at around 270 yards and a pond to its right, not to mention a fairway ditch you must first carry at around 180 yards, it got me nervously computing a series of numbers.
Tyrrell’s driver carry at 280 would normally be enough, but hitting into a cold October wind it would need to come right out of the middle. If he reaches for his driver, I thought, should I tell him to make sure he hits a good one? That sounded like caddie suicide to me.
His 3-wood, on the other hand, had plenty to carry the first ditch and would hold up before the pond. Therefore, it was surely the percentage play we so often hear the commentators bang on about.
Tossing up the options, I saw how Roachie’s brash Aussie nature must be just what the partnership needs at times, especially if things are getting tense on a Sunday.
My job at this moment had been made clear during an earlier discussion with Roachie about the yardage books and Tyrrell’s strategy. Give him the numbers he needs, discuss the wind and then let him make his own decision.
Occasionally, if Tyrrell’s leaning towards something Roachie’s worried about, he’ll ask him if he’s sure and to talk through his thought process, but he’ll never straight up hand him a club or tell him what to hit.
It’s a similar affair around the greens, where Tyrrell will assess the lie, slopes and pin position and choose his own club, as well as reading his own putts – a combination that took a significant weight of my shoulders.
With the 12th navigated safely via a fairway wood, wedge and two-putt combo, I settled back down into the task at hand. By the time we reached the tough par-4 18th the crowds were building, but I felt reasonably confident that I could pass by them without being called out as a fraud – I had the bib on after all.
Tyrrell’s scoring seemed to vindicate my confidence, as we birdied each of our last three holes to end the day on a high (a good omen in hindsight, as Tyrrell went on to finish the week T13 and earn over €60,000 during his fifth-best result of the year).
Our closing purple patch and my new-found speed with the yardage book gave us more time to chat, and it became quickly apparent that despite career earnings of over €1.6m at just 24 years old, Tyrrell is still just a normal lad from High Wycombe.
Once he’d finished for the day, he’d drive south an hour or so to his parents in Buckinghamshire for dinner with them and his girlfriend. His dad, and fellow professional, Jeff, is also his swing coach, and has been since his son first started competing aged five.
With the last putt knocked in I wiped down the tour-issue Scotty Cameron putter one last time. For Tyrrell, it certainly wasn’t his final Pro-Am witnessing an amateur out of their depth, but for me, it was quite possibly the last chance I’d get to experience life as a tour caddie, and that’s probably just as well.
Roachie’s guide to strategy
Be specific off the tee
The European Tour caddie yardage books detail individual trees you can see from the tee from a POV angle, as well as from an overhead view. Picking a very small target, like a tree trunk, will help narrow your focus and the size of your miss area.
Don’t get greedy
Whether it’s coming out of a bunker or flying trouble from the rough, you must focus on going from a weak position back to a strong position as quickly as you can, even if that means leaving yourself a longer next shot.
Cover off false fronts and run-offs
When playing into a green you’ll want two key numbers before you take into account the playing conditions. One will be carry to the flag, and the other what you need to avoid, such as a false front or tier. Normally the trouble is at the front of the green, so most amateurs will benefit from trying to carry it between the flag and back edge.