Brandel Chamblee had a familiar face on the bag for him last week at the PGA Tour Champions’ Shaw Charity Classic.
It was his wife, Bailey.
She made her PGA Tour Champions caddying debut there in Calgary at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club in a moment that was a year and a half in the making.
But before we get to the backstory, Bailey had a blast keeping the mood light during her first walk inside the ropes.
Chamblee’s better half wasn’t short on one-liners last week:
I had 245 to the 18th today, over a creek, my wife says, “Well, are you a man or a mouse?”,needless to say, I went for it. A few holes later I see her reading my 20 ft putt, so I asked, what’s it going to do? She deadpans, “It’s going to go in”…whereupon I made it. #cockycaddy
— Brandel Chamblee (@chambleebrandel) August 31, 2019
“Oh that was probably my favorite part,” Bailey said. “That (man or mouse) comment wasn’t planned at all until it just came out of my mouth. And he chuckled and laughed and of course he went for it.
“The remainder of that round, and the final day, I was trying to pick my moments because you can’t just throw out comments like that all the time,” she said. “They have to be unexpected, they have to be said at the right moment.”
And being married to a guy who talks about golf for a living, Bailey sure found some good original material of her own.
“I gave him a few lighthearted jabs,” she laughed.
A couple holes after Brandel went for 18 in two, he started talking about her pre-shot comment and how it made him laugh. Then he told Bailey, “well I showed you, I’m a man,” and Bailey deadpanned, “well yeah, nice par. You didn’t really show me that much.”
Brandel took all of this light-hearted joshing in stride.
“She made me laugh while I was playing bad golf,” Brandel said, “not many people can do that. She kept me entertained.”
How the Chamblees got here
Brandel told Bailey when they met when he was 47 — 10 years ago — that he planned to eventually play the PGA Tour Champions.
But his day job as Golf Channel’s lead analyst kept him plenty busy.
In March 2018, Bailey heard Golf Channel producer Jay Radzavicz vocalize the idea that Brandel should try to play again.
Specifically, the Senior Open Championship became the tournament, she says, she suggested he make his return at.
“How cool would it be to play another major at St. Andrews?” Bailey asked her husband.
“I had to pester him for about three months before he finally started taking it seriously and practicing and actually sought out to make it happen.”
The assumption this whole time would be that she would caddie.
But as it happened, “that was on the table and was always going to happen until he actually qualified. He went over (to Scotland) early and played the course he qualified on before the regular open (and his TV duties).”
The caddies that day were members at Scotscraig, the course he would qualify on.
Brandel got hooked up with one of them and it made sense to both husband and wife that he had a real caddie who had familiarity with both Scotscraig and St. Andrews once he made the Senior Open field.
“So I wasn’t going to caddie for him at St. Andrews, which was fine,” Bailey said.
This past May’s Principal Charity Classic came as the next opportunity for Bailey, but she found out the Wakonda Club is one of the hardest courses to walk on the entire senior circuit, plus there was heavy rain expected that week.
At this July’s Senior Open, Brandel went with a local caddie again.
“Finally last week we were like, ‘well ok, let’s just do it’,” Bailey said.
And they didn’t regret it.
The 57-year-old was in the midst of his best stretch of golf for the week during Saturday’s second round when he asked Bailey to read his birdie putt on the par-3 fifth.
“He asked ‘what do you see?’ And I wasn’t about to put anything (wrong) in his head,” Bailey said. “We’ve all been there in scrambles when you hear the advice on ‘where’s this putt going?’ and ‘It’s going in?’
“And so I just threw (it’s going in) out there.”
The rookie caddie got quite the response from the group.
“He ended up making it and all the caddies ended up congratulating me for such a great read,” Bailey laughed.
And Bailey’s penchant for sarcasm continued Monday as the two drove to the Calgary airport for a flight to San Francisco and a stay at Silverado this week.
“We’re driving to the airport and going east and the sun is directly in our eyes,” Bailey said. “Brandel says, ‘Oh, I think we’re headed east.’ And I said, ‘oh really, what gave that away?’ He said, ‘oh, I have a great sense of direction.’ And I said, ‘well your iron (shots) this week suggested otherwise.’
“So I clearly like to give him jabs.”
Bailey left most of the nitty-gritty work to Brandel last week. Yes she pulled the pins, cleaned the golf balls and raked the bunkers, but the club selection and green-reading she mostly left to Brandel.
“I didn’t pull clubs, didn’t do yardages, didn’t tell him the wind is going this way or that way, I didn’t do any of that but it was nice to be sort of a part of his experience playing in the tournament,” Bailey said.
Though she’d walked many of Chamblee’s previous rounds in competition, it was hard to get close with the way some tee boxes are separated from the spectators.
Brandel’s favorite aspect of having Bailey on the bag was that it gave her a chance to see his friends and their golf game in person for a change.
“She got to know the players that I’ve known since I was a kid,” Brandel said. “She got to know them up close as opposed to me saying, ‘well he’s this or he’s that.’ She got to fully appreciate it and get a sense of who they were.
These players included Corey Pavin, Brett Quigley and Tommy Armour, for starters.
“I had told her about the genius of Corey Pavin, how he could play golf really like very few people have ever played it,” Chamblee said. “And she got to see it first hand. Literally, he hit all these cut shots and draws. She saw and appreciated how unique his putting stroke was, too.
“Bailey also got to know how nice a guy Brett Quigley was. She knew that I had basically grown up with Tommy Armour and I got paired with Tommy and got to know him a little better.”
In fact, Quigley’s caddie, Scott Martin, gave her plenty of advice as she nervously began her first loop in competition Friday morning.
“He knew that was my first round, and he was so nice all day,” Bailey said. “He said, ‘just have fun with it, if you have any questions just ask me. Don’t overthink it’.”
The biggest aspect of caddying that caused Bailey the most anxiety was how to properly rake bunkers.
When Chamblee hit into what Bailey figured to be a dozen bunkers between practice rounds and the Pro-Am she thought to herself, “There you go, let’s get that out of our system please.”
Thankfully, during the three rounds of competition she only remembers him hitting into two. And she got plenty of lessons from other caddies on raking bunkers during the week.
Chamblee finished at 4 over for the week in a tie for 64th in the field of 78 players.
As far as what’s next for Brandel’s bag, he was asked by one of his former PGA Tour caddie’s — Graeme Courts — if he could loop at next week’s Ally Challenge in Michigan, so the 27-year veteran will caddie there.
“I’m back to work and back to my real job after that, which is talking about golf as opposed to playing it,” Brandel said. “Depending on whether or not I can get out of work, I’m going to go to Q-school for the Champions Tour and the TaylorMade event at Pebble Beach (November 19). Bailey will be back on the bag that week, I would imagine.”
As Brandel’s comeback to competitive golf continues to materialize Bailey is quickly discovering an unintended result of her initial “pestering.”
“I didn’t realize that when I pushed him into playing again last year that I was also getting another job,” Bailey laughed.