16 Jun 2023

Thomas Nesbitt – The UAE amateur who caddied for Renato Paratore

The UAE recently hosted consecutive Challenge Tour events in April, attracting renowned winners and high-profile names to compete in the nation once again.

These tournaments not only provided an excellent opportunity for local and resident golfers to showcase their skills on a grand stage but also offered other unique prospects. Among these opportunities was the privilege of caddying for Renato Paratore, a two-time DP World Tour champion.

Seizing this chance was 16-year-old Thomas Nesbitt, an exceptional golfer himself who aims to pursue US College Golf in 2025. We caught up with Thomas, who shared insights into his own game and recounted his experience as the caddy for the talented Italian golfer. Paratore’s solid performance, finishing tied seventh at the Abu Dhabi Challenge, made the experience all the more memorable.

How did you first become interested in golf?

TN: I always played a lot of sport growing up. I played everything I could, and then during Covid a lot of the team sports shut down so golf was the only one available. I started playing a lot and my Dad’s a scratch golfer, so it went from there.

What’s your handicap and the level of your game now?

TN: I play off plus four now. I was probably a 15 handicap during Covid, and by the end of Covid when I was 14 I got to plus one. I’m always striving to get better, and I had a strong finish to the season. I didn’t have my best start to the season, but I won a few solid events throughout the year which was good. This summer I’ll be heading back to the UK to compete in some big tournaments.

Would you like to pursue a career in golf?

TN: Yeah, absolutely. I realise how tough any professional sport is, but that’s my goal.

And caddying recently for Renato Paratore at the Abu Dhabi Challenge, what was that like?

TN: It was some experience. He approached Abu Dhabi Golf Club and was looking for someone to carry the bag for four days. I had just won the club championship so one of the guys approached me and asked if I wanted to do it. I was keen, and it was a great experience learning what he did to prepare for all tournament rounds. It was brilliant.

What was Paratore like as a person? Was he friendly or completely in the zone?

TN: Very friendly, very chilled out, really relaxed. He turned up each day around 40 minutes before, hit a few balls and a few putts. He then went out to shoot four, five under. He was really good.

What was the main thing you learnt from watching him play golf?

TN: I learnt a lot just from how he prepared for the rounds before, particularly how he went to the range afterwards and hit a few balls. He didn’t change anything to his pre-round routine, too. He just trusted his game really. He was two over after day one and he finished comfortably under par for the tournament.

Have you caddied before, or was this a completely new experience?

TN: No, I’ve never done it before. I was a bit hesitant on doing it first as I had my school exams, but I managed to reschedule everything. I wanted to gain some experience and implement it into my game.

What was the hardest part about caddying for you?

TN: It was quite physically demanding, and not having much control was also a challenge. I could give all the advice I wanted, but I couldn’t hit any shots. It was tough as I just wanted to go out and try replicate what he was doing.

What advice was he asking you while out on the course?

TN: He was very relaxed, and we talked on every walk that we had. Whether that be from the tee box, to the fairway, and then to the green. Then, when we got on the greens he asked me pretty much every time for reads. Whether he trusted them is another thing!

Are you staying in contact with him?

TN: Yeah, he followed me on Instagram. That was a good one!

And finally, then, could you see yourself caddying in future again?

TN: No, I think it was a one off to try and gain all the experience and learn everything I could from that. Then it’s just about implementing it into my own game, especially this summer as I look to kick on with my own golf. I’ll be playing a lot of practice rounds and lots of long tournaments up to four days, so it was great insight.

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