CROMWELL, Conn. -- Steve Catlin took a roundabout path to becoming a caddie.
Among his jobs: Assistant pro for three years, sales rep for Bridgestone for six years, coach in China for a year, finally a caddie.
The latter is the job he loved the most, so a dozen years ago he gave it a try, turning up at a Web.com Tour event in Virginia Beach, Virginia, without work or much of an idea of how to get some.
“I caught a cab there thinking I don’t know what I’m doing here,” he said.
Fortunately for Catlin, who was born in Adelaide, Australia, he did know a few players from when the Tour had swung through his native country. He also knew the wife of Stephen Gangluff and managed to work his way on to his bag in 2003.
With the job came more opportunities and the following season he landed with Scott Hend, the long-hitting Aussie who Catlin knew from his time at Bridgestone, which was one of Hend’s sponsors.
“I went through my entire first year not being fired,” Catlin said. “It was awesome -- and I’d picked up bag for first part of next year.”
But the business can be a cruel one and the following season Hend told him as the two sat in an airport outside Washington D.C., that it was time for a change. In caddie parlance: You’re fired.
“It was eye-opening to say the least,” Catlin said. “I’d never been fired from any job. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I had no base over here and didn’t how to get more work.”
One thing Catlin discovered is that in the land of no contracts or guarantees, caddies mostly look out for one another. But he also found out the ping-pong nature that goes with job insecurity.
Over the years Catlin has done his share of bouncing around. Andrew Buckle, Stephen Allan, Michael Connell are just a few of the players he has carried for.
In March of last year, his first event with current boss Robert Streb was The Honda Classic. On Saturday of that week, Streb was paired with Graeme McDowell. On Sunday, Tiger Woods.
“It was a welcome-to-the-PGA-TOUR-moment (for Streb),” the 42-year-old Catlin said.
Earlier this year, Streb and Catlin enjoyed an even better one when Streb birdied the 18th hole to finish second at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans for the biggest payday of his young career.
When Catlin was a junior player he figured out pretty quickly he didn’t have the game or desire to hang with players at such a high level. But being on the bag isn’t any less enjoyable, or exciting.
“Being part of the best players in the game and being able to help them,” he said. “Getting in contention still gives you that buzz.”