Living the dream?

Retired tour caddy Sean Russell reflects on his 12 years on tour, from hundreds of hotels and flights to the many highs alongside some of the world’s best golfers

Caddying on tour was always my dream job and in 2008 I was lucky enough to get the chance to live that dream.

I started out on the Ladies European Tour with Diana Luna, who went on to win a few times, rose to European number one, and in 2009 was the first Italian woman to play in the Solheim Cup. After that, I went out on the European Tour from 2010 until I retired in 2020 when the pandemic started.

Being a tour caddy sounds glamorous – you definitely get to travel to some beautiful places, walk some of the best courses in the world (and some that most definitely aren’t the best) and mix with the best golfers – but the reality is somewhat different.

For example, most weeks, unless you put some effort in not to, you rarely see anything other than the hotel, driving range and golf course. The idea that we all head out to play after work is about as far from the truth as it gets. I don’t miss that monotony.

Then there’s the travelling. I used to love jetting off here, there and everywhere but nowadays the thought of a 10-hour flight to South Africa on New Year’s Day or running to catch a connecting flight knowing I might get it, but my luggage definitely won’t, just doesn’t appeal to me anymore.

Let’s also not forget the rain. I don’t miss caddying in the rain. Or the wind. Or, even worse, both. When it’s raining, you need at least two extra hands to be able to hold the umbrella over your player’s head while also doing the numbers and keeping your yardage book dry, opening the rain cover, drying the grip, and fishing the other dry towel out so they can dry their hands. When it’s windy, you need to be somewhere between a meteorologist and theoretical mathematician with a degree in hindsight to work out the effect of the wind on the impending flight of the ball.

While I don’t miss bits of the job, that’s not to say I don’t miss being a caddy.

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of being up there on Sunday, and absolutely nothing like coming down the last knowing your player is going to win. There’s also the feeling of pulling on your team uniform and picking up a bag with European Team emblazoned on it; or when, after a long hard season, your player two-putts the 72nd hole of an event to keep their card.

Those are the things I look back on with the most pride: winning with Diana in Ireland and Norway in consecutive weeks in 2009; caddying in the Solheim Cup; and Chris Paisley finishing third in the Italian Open at the end of 2016 season. However small my input was, they were all great moments. These days, I enjoy seeing my caddy mates having moments like this. If you look at the starred players on the European Tour app on my phone, it’s actually the caddies I’m following, not the players. Like it or not, once you’re a tour caddy, you’re always a tour caddy. At some stage, that may not be good news for my retirement status.