DP World Tour caddy Chris Simmons on preparing for tournaments and making the most of practice rounds
When it comes to preparing for tournaments, each player and caddy are a little different. While some guys like to get two 18-hole rounds in, others will walk the course, split their days up with nine holes and plenty of practice… it comes down to the player.
For Matt [Jordan] and I, our preparation is very consistent. Matt has a great work ethic on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, not wasting any time chatting on the range or filling the day up, he likes to get through his work efficiently.
We tend to travel on Mondays and get started on Tuesday morning between 10-10.30am – which is great if you’ve had a long trip or you’re a bit jet-lagged.
Matt will work on the range, short game area and putting green before lunch, take a short break to eat and then play nine holes in the afternoon. He’ll repeat that on Wednesday and then I’ll walk the course some more if there are any areas which need another look.
When we’re on the golf course, we’re building up knowledge and adding details to the yardage books. While we receive detailed books, each player and caddy customise these in their own way. I like to add a lot of carry and total distance information, while looking at the wind forecast for the week and ground conditions to ensure we have the numbers ready should it change between rounds. It’s also important to look at tee box options, as the tour can mix things up on the weekend.
On the course, we’re always discussing options. Matt’s great with a two iron, so he likes to hit that when the options are fairly balanced. On the other hand, when I caddied for Julian Suri, he was super confident with driver. As a caddy, when your player makes a call you have to be confident in that call, even when hitting driver into a 15-yard-wide fairway is beyond your wildest dreams.
In the past, practice rounds were very loose, social events. The players would just pencil in rounds here and there. Nowadays, everything is run through an online booking system, which makes it a lot more organised. Players tend to stick together, so the Aussie guys practise together and so do the Spanish players. For Matt, he tends to stick with the guys he came up with, such as Calum Hill, Ewen Ferguson, Craig Howie, Dave Coupland and Jack Singh Brar.
The one thing which can change our schedule a little is if we’re in the pro am. These can either be great fun or torture for a caddy, depending on your player and how much they want to make of the experience. Matt is great in pro ams, and gets along with his partners, which makes them fly over. In the past, on other bags, we’ve had some tough days – including two consecutive years at the Dunhill Links with an American businessman hitting various near-catastrophic shots towards marshals and spectators.
While each player prepares differently, we’re all out there calibrating for the tournament and checking out the golf course. Details are very important for caddies, while players build up their feel for certain holes and shots while not applying any pressure to the outcome.
In your own practice rounds, try some different tee shots and look closely at how each hole sets up for your shot shape and tendencies. Make notes on these and use them – it all adds to your database of information when you get out there in a tournament situation.