McCalmont: How to overcome a caddie/player language barrier
Editor’s note: Chris McCalmont is a caddie on the LPGA Tour and has traveled all over the world in that capacity. In this series on The Caddie Network, McCalmont details what life is like as a caddie on the LPGA. This is his fourth entry.
With so many international players on the LPGA, I’ve caddied for more foreign players than Americans. As a result, for many of the players I have worked for, English isn’t their first language.
That can make for some long days — especially when they are not playing well.
It’s hard enough having things in common with women.
With most guys, you can talk music, movies, sports, politics, etc. But it’s even more difficult when they are international players, who aren’t as confident in the English language (most watch TV/movies and listen to music in their native language. I did have a caddie friend who knows some Korean and watched a Korean drama his player watches — in English subtitles — to have something to chat about, but I have not gone to this extreme… yet).
Being that I’m much older than a lot of the players, we have even less in common.
They [female golfers] need to feel good about themselves in order to play their best, as opposed to male golfers, who I think need to play their best to feel good about themselves.
I once tried telling a player a riddle: “Why can’t a person living in Chicago be buried in another state?”
It went nowhere because I first had to explain what a riddle is, which I found difficult, on top of explaining the answer, which is, “because the person is still alive.”
But you have to find a way to relate/communicate with your player, no matter the language barrier, because you spend so much time together and because often times, the best way to calm/relax female golfers is to talk about non-golf things. They need to feel good about themselves in order to play their best, as opposed to male golfers, who I think need to play their best to feel good about themselves.
In addition to taking about the obvious — things like what they did the day before, what did they had for dinner, how’s the family, boyfriend or girlfriend, etc. — I try and get them to open up about who they really are.
I ask them about growing up, their childhood, family history, as well as future plans and aspirations. While it is a business relationship, in my opinion, for it to last, there has to be somewhat of a friendship, at least on the course. I view every player I caddie for as a human first, a golfer second — not just someone I earn a living from.
Because I like Thai food, as well as the country — I have been to Thailand four times on holiday – I have something to talk about that my current boss, Pornanong Phatlum, can relate to. And I hope it maybe gives me some bonus points, too.
Speaking of Thailand, its stifling heat makes Florida’s humidity seem refreshing. So after lugging the 30-50 lb. bag up and down the rolling hills of Siam Country Club, dripping with sweat, a one-hour Thai or foot massage is in order. At only $9 USD, the total for a daily massage during the week will cost you less than one massage in the States.
While the LPGA isn’t as rich as the PGA Tour monetarily, it’s rich in a lot of other aspects.