Playing in the rain: PGA TOUR caddies speak on how to keep grips from getting wet
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Written by Andrew Tursky @AndrewTursky
CROMWELL, Connecticut – The weather report for Thursday and Friday at the Travelers Championship says rain … a lot of rain.
Of course, there are a number of issues that arise for players when it’s raining, including mud balls, spin inconsistency (due to water getting between the face and golf ball), distance loss off the tee (less rollout and greater humidity), and general discomfort (re: water).
So rain can certainly be detrimental to scoring, but wet grips are absolutely disastrous. How can anyone hit consistent golf shots, let alone compete in PGA TOUR competition, if they can’t hold onto the club?
This is where a PGA TOUR caddie’s role is crucial, and any mistake that allows too much moisture onto the club’s grips can be costly; not only for the player, but for the caddie’s future.
“Letting a player’s grips get wet when it’s raining is a quick way to get fired,” says Justin Thomas’ caddie, Jimmy Johnson.
To avoid this fate, PGA TOUR caddies take certain measures to keep their player’s grips dry. The most important thing, according to multiple PGA TOUR caddies – aside from an umbrella, obviously -- is to keep a number of extra, dry towels in the bag. A towel that dries quickly, such as a “Shammy towel,” can also come in handy, according to Harold Varner III’s caddie Ray Farnell.
A dry towel can be a saving grace if the grips do happen to get wet, but a damp towel is worthless. To keep the towel itself from getting wet, many PGA TOUR caddies loop a towel underneath the umbrella. Unless the umbrella flips over on accident, that towel is safely in a dry place.
An absolutely crucial piece of equipment when it’s raining is a bag cover. Without a bag cover, rain water can get directly into the bottom of the golf bag where the grips are exposed to unnecessary moisture. Most PGA TOUR staff bags come with covers that zip to make getting a club out and back in easy. The caddie must also make sure that the zipper doesn’t stay open for any prolonged period of time.
Another huge problem for a caddie when it’s raining is being a human being with only two hands.
“The biggest thing is you don’t have enough hands,” said Johnson. “Hold the umbrella, clean the clubs. You need to be an octopus.”
Unless PGA TOUR caddies start getting hand implants – which seems expensive, if not unnecessary – they must rely on their player for assistance. Keeping grips dry is a team effort.
“You need your player to help you,” Farnell said. “You need your guy to not walk off with a club. He has to stand with the umbrella, or help while we put the club back in, and dry [the grips] as you go. As soon as [a grip] gets wet, everything gets wet.”
Lastly, a long-accepted tactic to keep extra gloves dry is to put them in ziplock bags. According to Johnson, however, that may actually be a risky move.
“A lot of guys put their gloves in ziplock bags, but if there’s any moisture, it holds the moisture in, too,” said Johnson.
Therefore, if one glove in the ziplock bag gets wet then all of the extra grips get wet. That would be bad for anyone not named Fred Couples (who plays golf without a glove on).
To summarize, when playing in the rain, it’s crucial to bring extra towels, an umbrella, a club cover, and maybe keep the ziplock bags at home. Also, if you have extra hands, that wouldn’t hurt, either.