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Scottish Caddies: A Dying Breed?

Bobby Wood


Age 71

"It's only my opinion, but Muirfield is Scotland's best golf course. It's definitely the fairest. If you hit your ball down the middle at St. Andrews you could end up in a pot bunker. There's nothing like that here. There are no tricks. If you place your ball in the right spot on the fairway, then you've got a chance.

That isn't to say the course is easy. Not a chance, especially when the wind blows. There was one day we had a group going off the tenth tee. The fog was down and you could only see about thirty yards, so we lined them up using divots on the tee. They all played great for a few holes—nothing worse than par—but then the fog lifted and everything changed. They could see the rough swaying in the wind, and it played with their heads. After that, it was nothing but sixes and sevens.

If that's what Muirfield can do to good golfers, you should see what happens to the bad ones. You are supposed to be an eighteen handicap or better to play the course, but a few slip through the net. The worst I ever had was an American who was staying in the Greywalls Hotel. He hit three balls off the first tee and lost twenty on the front nine. We had to go into the hotel at the turn to buy a fresh box, and by the time we reached the eighteenth we only had three left. I'll never forget that round of golf as long as I live. I don't suppose he will, either."

Billy "Buff" Cowan


Age 62

"I've always worked outdoors. I used to deliver coal, and then I worked on the local farms. My brother brought me to the course over twenty years ago, and I was hooked. I love the way nothing changes at Prestwick. Take the seventeenth hole: It's the same today as it was in 1851.

The two most famous people I caddied for were Tom Watson and President Clinton. It was blowing a gale the day I had Watson's bag, right into your face on the first. He hit a driver and then a three-iron just short of the green. What a player he was—he could play proper 'Scottish' shots.

Clinton wasn't bad either when he came last year. He played off a ten handicap, but he was actually better than that. Afterward the other guys asked me what I called him. I told them I called him Bill until he tipped me $200 at the end of the round. Then I called him Mr. President."

David Scobie

Westin Turnberry Resort

Age 64

"Turnberry is a magical place, and not just because of the golf course. The hotel is amazing, the way it sits on the hill overlooking the sea. All the stars love it. I've caddied for a few famous people down the years—Sean Connery, Gary Player—but my favorite was Burt Lancaster. I loved that film of his, The Birdman of Alcatraz. He arrived one day when my name was at the top of the list, so I got his bag.

We went out together two days in a row. Before the round on the second day, Burt said to me, 'Davie, where can you get whisky around here?I asked at the hotel and they wanted to charge me £35 a bottle.' I told him to give me £20 and wait ten minutes. I ran off to the local shop and bought three bottles. He was playing with two friends, and after every hole they'd take a big sip of whisky. By the twelfth hole, we had run out of the stuff. Burt could hold his drink, though. He kept playing good golf. 'How far is it from here, my friend?' he would say to me when we were in the fairway. His voice was just like it was in the films. I felt like one of the birds in Alcatraz: 'How far is it from here, my friend?'"


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