Caddie Scott Gneiser explains what it was like to walk away from Anthony Kim
Anthony Kim is arguably the biggest enigma in golf history.
Believed by many to be one of the game’s next greats, Kim — a three-time Tour winner and a member of a winning U.S. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cyp team — has not played since suffering an injury in 2012. He’s pretty much disappeared outside of the rare sighting, like this one from No Laying Up in November 2018 ahead of The Match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson:
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) November 19, 2018
It’s too bad. There are so many what-ifs around Kim who still is just 34 years old.
He turned pro in 2006 after three years at Oklahoma. One of his early caddies was Scott Gneiser, longtime on-again/off-again (but, mostly “on”) caddie for David Toms.
When Gneiser first linked up with Kim, he was certain he was witnessing golf’s next great player. But the relationship only lasted, “about 10 events,” according to Gneiser, in a decision that was made by the caddie.
That’s right: caddie left player and not the other way around.
Gneiser explained what it was like with Kim in a recent podcast on The Caddie Network.
“It didn’t last long,” Gneiser conceded. “I kinda quit him, which felt like quitting the next Tiger Woods. I didn’t like it. I think it was more the people around him than it was Anthony.”
The story of how they linked up is actually pretty funny.
It was 2007, the inaugural year of the PGA Tour’s Playoffs for the FedExCup. Toms had just missed the cut in The Barclays at Westchester, the playoffs opener, and decided to part ways with Gneiser.
Gneiser traveled back home to Chicago, not quite sure when his next caddie gig would take place. And, as he walked in the door, things happened quickly.
“It was pretty crazy,” Gneiser said. “David had just fired me in the middle of the playoffs. We didn’t play well at Westchester. I get home to Chicago, I’m just walking into the house and the phone rings. ‘Hey, Scotty, what are you doing, man?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I just got let go by David.’ Now, I’m sitting there, and I have no idea who this is. I have no idea who it is. So, the guy is going, ‘Hey, you want to come to Boston today? I’ll pay for your flight. Do you want to work for me?’
“I’m like, ‘Uh, yeah. I’d love to. Who is this?’
“He said, ‘It’s AK. It’s AK.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, sure.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I just let my caddie go. Come to Boston.’”
So, off to Boston Gneiser went for the Duetsche Bank Championship to experience the Kim circus for the first time.
“It was incredible what I was watching,” Gneiser recalled. “This kid. I go, ‘This guy is the next Tiger Woods.’ He had so much talent. It was incredible. His wedge game from within a hundred was second to none. This little low, little dart, little wedge that would like two-hop check and it was always right on the money. He had hands on him that were incredible.”
In that first week together, Kim finished T17, his best finish since a T5 nearly four months earlier at Quail Hollow.
Nice start, right?
Perhaps so. But Gneiser quickly realized that even with Kim’s remarkable talent, the player/caddie team wouldn’t be long for one another.
“He was a young kid and liked to get into other things and have fun and partying, so it was kind of uncomfortable out there with him and all those people around him,” Gneiser said. “I mean, he had a life coach, he had his parents, and something was going on. His teacher and I were pretty good friends and kind of communicating, but with everyone around him, they’re trying to tell me what to do. I’m sitting there going, ‘Did Anthony tell you to tell me this?’ They’re going, ‘No.’ I just couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t me. I didn’t like being controlled like that. So, I said, ‘I think it’s time for me to step away.’”
The decision wasn’t an easy one, but it was one Gneiser felt he had to make.
The week it happened, Gneiser was staying in a house with Zach Johnson.
“Zach’s looking at me and he says, ‘Scott, you’re not happy,’” Gneiser said. “‘No,’ I said. ‘What do you think if I quit Anthony Kim?’
“He goes, ‘That’s a pretty daring thing to do, but I don’t blame you. I can see you’re not happy.’ It goes back to what you’re comfortable with. And I wasn’t comfortable, so I had to let go. It was a tough deal.”
There you have it. Just like when players need to take their medicine and move on, so too do caddies.
You can listen to the entire podcast below.