Why Joe LaCava 'always' drove Fred Couples to the golf course
January 17, 2023
By Kevin Prise , PGATOUR.COM
- January 17, 2023
Why Joe LaCava always drove Fred Couples to the golf course
Prior to the 2023 Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, Fred Couples explains the origin story of why longtime caddie Joe LaCava often drove him to the golf course. It began at The American Express, when Couples got lost en route to Bermuda Dunes CC.
During Joe LaCava’s two-plus decades caddying for Fred Couples, LaCava “always” took the wheel en route to the golf course, per Couples.
The routine began in the Coachella Valley, at the duo’s very first event together.
The Couples-LaCava partnership commenced in 1990, and Couples began his season at The American Express – the longtime southern California event once hosted by Bob Hope – in his adopted home region of the California desert. Couples had crossed paths with LaCava the previous fall at an event in Japan; LaCava was caddying for Ken Green at the time, and they discussed the possibility of working together the following year.
“It took me almost two months; I finally called Joe, his dad answered because he was working on his house, and he came down off the ladder,” Couples remembered this week. “I said, ‘Meet me in the desert.’”
Couples asked LaCava to meet at his house to ride together for a practice round at Bermuda Dunes CC (formerly part of The American Express course rotation). Couples lived just eight miles from Bermuda Dunes, so it seemed a stress-free commute.
That wasn’t quite the case.
“We get in my car; at the time I was with Cadillac, driving an Escalade, and I couldn’t find Bermuda Dunes,” Couples said. “We’re driving around, and he’s sitting in the right-hand side, livid. ‘You live here, and you can’t find this damn course, and I don’t understand it.’
“So we finish the round; obviously I put my keys in the car. He grabbed the keys out, he drove home, and he drove home every day for 22 years. I never drove my own car at another tournament, because of that mishap.”Fred Couples and Joe LaCava at the 2010 Masters Tournament. (Harry How/Getty Images)
The American Express is set for its 64th playing this week, featuring five of the top-10 players on the Official World Golf Ranking. Couples will tee it up at this week’s PGA TOUR Champions season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, aiming to build on a victory in his most recent start, the SAS Championship in October. There, he made seven consecutive closing birdies for a final-round 60 that was celebrated far and wide on professional golf’s driving ranges.
LaCava now caddies for Tiger Woods; his son Joe Jr. spent time on Couples’ bag last spring and is now pursuing the profession as a full-time career.
When Joe Jr. caddied for Couples at last year’s Mitsubishi Electric Classic outside Atlanta, the younger LaCava procured the rental car and served as Couples’ de facto chauffeur. Like father, like son.
“That’s why I love Joey,” Couples summated the memory from 1990. “He’s always in control, on and off the course, but that’s how this all started. Everyone knows that I never drive, but it’s because I was in my hometown, couldn’t find Bermuda Dunes (eight) miles away from my house, and Joe said, ‘I’m taking over.’”