12 Apr 2020

Danny Willett’s caddie Sam Haywood on the Masters

We speak to Danny Willett’s caddie, Sam Haywood, who gives us an insight on how to play Augusta National Golf Club and his experience caddying at such a prestigious golf event for a past Champion. 

First experience.

“My first experience caddying at the Masters was brilliant. It was easier for me because I had been there the year before as a spectator when Danny won it in 2016. When I was walking round with friends I had got some of the nerves out of my system, it was nice to get my bearings and figure Augusta out in my own time instead of being planted there and getting straight to work. I was taking in a lot of stuff that I’d be doing if I was on the bag and getting a few ideas together. When you first put that boiler suit on at the caddie quarters it’s just a special feeling – I had huge butterflies. It’s a special place, what surprised me at first was how sneakily hilly it is, I don’t think you realise on TV how hilly Augusta actually is.” 

Key to scoring around Augusta.

“You’ve got to be clever. In all honestly, unless it blows, I personally don’t think it’s the toughest golf course. There’s no rough, it’s all really nice grass or pine needles. The trees aren’t as condensed together, if you’re in the pine straw in the trees, invariably you’ve got some sort of shot. Bubba Watson said if you’ve got a swing in the trees, you’ve got a shot. They’re not condensed together at all. The pins are always in the same spot every year as you see on TV. You need to know where to miss it, and the correct side of the pins, then you’ve got a chance to use a bank to funnel it back down. But if you’re the wrong side of the pin you could take three or four shots to get down because the greens are so quick.”

 Caddie’s Nightmare.

“A caddie’s nightmare by a mile is the 12th. Everybody does the same thing – aim at the front bunker in case you come up half a club short or go half a club long and end up in the back bunker. What you can’t do is aim at the right side of the green unless you’re ballsy and think you’ve got a perfect club – but that’s the area where the wind changes the most so it’s really tricky and a lot of people tend to just hit a club that’s five or six in the tank, knock it down a little lower and aim for that front bunker and see what happens. If you hit that green you’re happy. It’s definitely a nerve wracking shot for a caddie.”

Best Advice.

“The only thing you can keep telling a player around Augusta is that anything can happen. Look at what’s happened on back nine in the past – it’s only an 80-man field so unless you’re massively out of it, there’s a strong finish on the back nine and you just need to be smart and keep your head on. Catastrophes can happen at any moment so you need to patient and hope to get on a good run. Luckily, I’m caddying for Willett who has won round there so he knows it like back of his hand.”

Favourite hole.

“My favourite holes from playing it myself and caddying there are the back nine holes – 13, 15, 16. They’re the holes that can really enhance your score card. I look forward to these holes as they can benefit your round and aesthetically they’re the most pleasing holes on the course. If I was to choose one it would be 13. It’s a tough second shot and you don’t realise how far the ball is above your feet, so you get your tee shot away and people will say it’s a four or five iron in but it’s a really tough shot into the green.”

 Are the greens hard to read?

“There’s no grain at Augusta really, so reading them is probably easier than other courses. However, they’re extremely slopeyand quick, your lines are a lot higher and a lot slower so that puts makes them a lot tougher than normal greens. The pins are in the same spots every year so you’re probably going to have the same putt at some point. If you’ve been going there for 10 years it’s almost like being a member at your home club. I would think it’s easy for some of the players who have been going there for years.”

Perfect way to play Amen Corner:

Hole Number 11. ‘White Dogwood’

Par 4, 505 Yards

“The 11th is a dogleg right, but they’ve extended it now so it doesn’t come into play as much.  It’s a straight drive off the tee around 330 yards to get to the dogleg. You just need a straight tee shot and if you hit the drive well you’re going to be left with around a six iron in. If you get the tee shot away you’re still not taking the back pins, the most aggressive you’re going to be is landing it around 10 yards on right half of the green. I’d say it’s one of the toughest holes on the golf course. You’re happy with hitting that green in two. If you’re out of position off the tee there’s a knuckle around 15-20 yards short of the green down the right that you can use to funnel one down to the front edge to take out of the water. This hole is all about avoiding the big numbers and taking your par.”

Hole Number 12. ‘Golden Bell’ 

Par 3, 155 Yards 

“You just have to be smart. It’s among the trees and the wind swirls so you’ve got to keep it down. I don’t believe anybody takes on the pin on that hole unless it’s in the middle of the green over the bunker because that’s where you’re aiming the ball anyway, or if its left side of the green at least if you’ve pulled it a bit you’re never going to come up short with a pull. The perfect tee shot is to aim at the front bunker, hit the middle of the green and have a putt at it.”

Hole Number 13. ‘Azalea’

Par 5, 510 Yards

“Apparently, this year they’ve put the tee box back 30 or 40 yards which changes a lot of things. In previous years, people who aren’t great drawers of the ball tend to hit a 3-wood off the tee because it’s not that long. The tee aims you straight up towards the pine trees and if you hit it more than 300 yards, and you don’t turn it with 20-yards of draw, you’re going to end up in the pine straw. We’ve seen Phil Mickleson do that before. You can still hit the green rom there but the chances are you’ll be laying up. Danny has always stuck with 3 wood and tried to draw it a little bit cause the fairway contours so much right to left it feeds it down. Any of the big hitters who hit high draws take it over the corner. It’s an obscene advantage because they’ve gone in with short clubs.”

“For Danny, a draw with the 3-wood will leave around a 4-iron in. The green angle is front left to back right on a diagonal. If you hit up the right half of the green the creek is a longer carry so a lot of the time, unless you’ve hit the drive a long way down with a short club, you’re going to be hitting the 4 iron to the left fridge which leaves a slippery putt but it’s not impossible. It’s all about trying to keep those catastrophes off the card. This year it will be different. With the hole being longer, it’s going to force players to hit driver which will leave a hybrid into the green which will be a tough second shot, especially with how much the ball is above your feet, so it will be like the old days seeing Nick Faldo hit a 2-iron into the green.”

Haywood played a practice round against his boss in 2018. It’s fair to say he can play himself…


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