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 second entry.
Believe it or not, before becoming a caddie, I was actually involved with PGATOUR.com in its infancy.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism in 1997 from Ohio University, after doing an internship at Golf Shop Operations magazine, part of Golf Digest.
Upon graduating I worked in various forms of golf media, from freelance writing to public relations to working as an assistant producer for golfweb.com/PGATOUR.com.
After being laid off twice in a year, 2000-2001, I started caddying at Congress Lake Country Club (Hartville, Ohio) during the summer, followed by Old Marsh Golf Club (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) in the fall.
In 2002, I answered a post from professional golfer Mary Kay Marino on a message board for LPGA Tour caddies looking for a caddie on what was then the Futures Tour (now the Symetra Tour), the women’s equivalent of the Web.com Tour.
So, from 2002-2006, I caddied between the Futures and LPGA Tours, as well during the fall in New Jersey and winter in South Florida at various golf clubs.
I left caddying in 2007 to pursue my master’s degree in sport psychology at Georgia Southern University. Upon graduating in 2009, I worked for various high-performance junior golf and tennis academies in mental training and student-athlete development, in addition to serving as assistant coach of the nationally-ranked University of the Cumberland men’s and women’s golf teams, an NAIA school in Williamsburg, Ky.
But like an often-used mantra on tour, “once a caddie, always a caddie,” I returned to caddying in 2013, first at Trump National (Washington, D.C.) and Old Collier (Naples, Fla.), then full-time on the LPGA Tour in 2014.
I had hoped my degree in sport psychology would be a major feather in my cap, but it hasn’t been so far.
For starters with such a high turnover rate on tour, I haven’t been with most of the players I caddied for long enough to try and introduce the mental game, as it’s not something you can talk about right away, in my opinion. Rather, you need to develop a rapport.
Secondly, I believe most look at me as a caddie and not as someone who knows the mental game. So, I may be saying the same thing as someone with a mental training title, but because I’m a caddie, it doesn’t hold the same weight.
Finally, I believe some would rather focus on the technical/physical part of the game, because it is easier to get stronger and/or constantly hit balls. However, it’s much harder to change one’s mind, because it can take them out of their comfort zone. In the past, when I have mentioned to some players how their swing is fine, that their mind is what’s controlling/affecting their game, they refuse to accept it and instead focus on what they know best and are most comfortable with — their technique.
What do I know, I’m just a caddie, right?