Excerpts from


Stephen Potter


Remember the basic rule: Make friends with your caddie and the game will make friends with you. How true this is. It is easy to arrange that your guest opponent shall be deceived into under-tipping his caddie at the end of the morning round, so that the news gets round, among the club employees, that he is a no good, and the boys will gang up against him.

I, myself, have made a special study of Caddie Play, and would like to put forward this small suggestion for a technique of booking a caddie for your guest.

There is usually one club caddie who is an obvious half-wit, with mentally deficient stare and a complete ignorance of golf clubs and golf play. Do not choose this caddie for your opponent. Take him for yourself. There is such a caddie in my own Club. He is known as Mouldy Phillips. It is obvious from a hundred yards that this poor fellow is a congenital. While preparing for the first tee say:

SELF: I’m afraid my caddie isn’t much to look at.

OPPONENT: Oh, well.

SELF: He’s a bit – you know.


SELF: I was anxious you shouldn’t get him.


SELF: It’s all right, I know the course. (Then, later, in a grave tone.) It gives him such a joy to be asked.


SELF: Oh – I don’t think they’d ever have taken him on here if I hadn’t been a bit tactful about it.

It is possible to suggest that in the case of Mouldy you have saved a soul from destitution. Impossible in such circumstances for your friend to refer to, much less complain of , Mouldy’s tremor of the right arm, which swings like the pendulum of a grandfather clock, to the hiccoughs or the queer throat noise he will make in the presence of strangers – habits to which you are accustomed.

Meanwhile you have succeeded in your promise to get for Opponent the best caddie on the course. A man like Formby. ‘He’s just back from caddieing in the Northern Professional,’ you say. So he is, and your friend soon knows it. During the first hole:

SELF: I suppose Formby knows this course better than anyone in the world.

FORMBY: Ought to, sir.

Your opponent will feel bound, now, to ask advice on every shot, every club. Formby is certain to give it to him, in any case. After he has done a decent drive and a clean iron shot, Formby will probably say: ‘Playing here last week, Stranahan reached this point, with his brassie, from the tee. Yes, he can hit, that man.’ Here one hopes that Mouldy Phillips will say something.

MOULDY: AA – ooo – rer – oh.

SELF: Jolly good, Mouldy. Yes, he’s got us there, old boy.

Here Opponent should be not only distracted but mystified. Formby will redouble his advice, while in contrast Mouldy looks on with delighted admiration at everything I do.

MOUTHPIECE  BLOCKING for Important Person Play. While caller is talking, take little notice but continue your conversation with friends in the room, covering mouthpiece ‘with the natural ease of long custom’ (Pettigrew). Not (a) by placing hand on mouthpiece but by placing mouthpiece either against elbow (b), thigh (rectus femoris) (c), or back of head (d).

Stephen Potter, Lifemanship, 1950

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