Veteran golf bettors know that the relationship between a caddy and a golfer in the PGA is one that is unique in all of sports. The caddy has to be part servant, part coach, part confidante, and part security guard. The relationship is so close it is almost like a marriage. And like marriages, the relationships between caddies and golfers often end – and quite often they don’t end gracefully. When a golfer splits with his caddy it can often be a sign of bigger issues. As such, handicappers need to take note of these changes when they happen so that they can consider the betting implications of the change in the short term. Here are six factors that bettors should consider to help determine the impact of a caddy change:
How long have they been together? – There are some relationships that last for several years, and some that change after a much shorter time. Needless to say, it is far more significant to bettor when a long time caddy is replaced than it is if a guy is just trying out a caddy to see if it is a good fit. When a golfer works with a caddy for a long time it is probably because he has had a good relationship and enjoyed some success. In order for the change to happen that has to have changed in some way. As a general rule, the longer a golfer and caddy have been together, the more significant the reason needs to be for the relationship to end, and therefore the more bettors need to take note. In shorter relationships that end you need to look at what the intent was when the relationship was formed in the first place. Was the caddy just a replacement for a long term guy, or was he chosen to be a long term guy himself?
How public was the break? – There are some caddy changes in golf that are incredibly public – Tiger Woods and his break with Steve Williams would clearly be the most obvious. For each one that makes the headlines and has people speculating, though, there are dozens that barely get noticed, and which don’t make the news at all. The more public a break was the more the public is going to react to it – and react negatively in most cases. It’s important to remember, though, that the most public cases aren’t necessarily the ones that are going to have the biggest impact. A low profile change could have a huge effect on the golfer and his ability to perform.
Why did the change happen? – This may be hard for bettors to determine exactly, but you need to do the best you can to figure out why a change was made. At the very least, you want to try to determine two things – who instigated the break, and if it was a positive change or not. For example, a positive change would be if the golfer made the change because a higher profile caddy was available – one he had worked with before, or one who has been working with a successful golfer. It would not be nearly as positive for the golfer, though, if his caddy left him because he wanted to go work for a different and presumably better golfer.
How had the golfer been playing? – Recent form can provide a pretty good insight into why changes were made. For example, Masters champion Mike Weir lost his long time caddy, and close personal friend, because injuries had limited his ability to compete at a high level. He respected the caddy, and wanted to let him have other opportunities that were likely more rewarding. That kind of change would be far less concerning than when a caddy leaves a golfer who seems to be playing well and moving in the right direction. When a change like the latter happens it is a good sign that there are bigger problems under the surface.
Who is the replacement? – We have talked about this already, but it is so important that I want to touch on it again. When a caddy change is made you need to look closely at who the new caddy is. If it is an upgrade from the previous caddy – in terms of experience, skill, or prestige – then it is probably a positive move for the golfer. If the golfer has moved down the caddy ladder, though, then it could be a good sign that the golfer has issues that should concern bettors. If the golfer struggles to replace the caddy on a permanent basis – using friends, a spouse or parent, or temporary caddies, for example – then it’s also a sign that the golfer might not be worthy of a bettor’s support. If a golfer is in a good place with his game then caddies will be clamoring to get on his bag.
Will the public care? – As with anything in sports betting you need to think about what the public will think here. If it is a high profile situation then it is quite possible that the public will overreact and affect the odds more than they need to be affected. On the other hand, if the public isn’t likely to take note of a situation and the importance of it then the impact may not be accurately reflected in the odds. In both cases there is the possibility for value if you think the public isn’t responding as they should.