You know Michael Collins as “America’s Caddie” on his hit ESPN+ series. But what you might not know is how he got his start as a caddie on tour and what life is like carrying the bag on tour. Today, Michael shares his stories and gives advice on how to break into the tour.
Mackenzie: Welcome to Getting to the Green, the podcast that explores many ways that you can find financial success in the golf industry. From caddies to broadcasters to engineers to pro golfers, we share how we’ve navigated the golf business and gotten to the green!
I’m your host Mackenzie Mack, a former professional golfer turned rising golf executive, and PGA and LPGA Class A Member.
And today’s guest is Michael Collins. Michael is known as “America’s Caddie,” and he was a professional caddie for 10 years. That provides a unique perspective to his writing and video reports on the ESPN.com golf team, which he joined in 2011. On top of that, Michael was also a standup comedian for 20 years.
Michael Collins: my journey is one that when sophomores and juniors in college who are journalism students write me and ask, hey, can you help me do what you did? No, you don’t want me to help you. The only way I can help you is to get you a job at Target or Walmart.
Mackenzie: You Somethings you’re just destined for.
Michael Collins: Yeah. Sometimes it feels like that. It feels definitely like the universe and karma just starts pointing you in, in directions. But that’s also a lot of times I tell kids when I’m talking to them as well. Sometimes you just got to say, yeah, why not? You know, and don’t be afraid to, if a door opens through a path that you weren’t expecting or might not be comfortable with, sometimes you got to just say, yeah, why not? And go through that path.
Mackenzie: Absolutely, like when they just hand you a caddy bib and say go.
Michael Collins: That was the very first time I caddied was the last hole at the Disney tournament. And that’s exactly what happened. Omar Uresti’s brother Rusty, AKA Hoss, took the bib off and said, come here. Come on, Hoss, get up here, and said bring him home. And I was, what? And put the bid on and down the 18th hole, Omar and I went.
Mackenzie: That is Crazy. I think I’ve been playing golf my whole life and I think I would be nervous. What were you thinking in that moment? And where was your golf skill, your knowledge at that point?
Michael Collins: Oh, no, there was none. the, I had no golf skill, knowledge. It was nothing like that, and I was terrified. It was exciting, and cause I knew it was the last tournament of the year and it was something, last hole. So, you know, for me it was like, okay, all I want to do just, give yourself a chance for birdie. And of course, Omar was very straight hitter, not long.
And it was the ninth hole at the Magnolia course, the Disney, and he drive and hits seven, I think he hit a seven iron to about 15 feet, missed the birdie putt, but made the par, but the whole time, you know, I’m just, all right, try not to make a lot of noise. Don’t get in anybody else’s way. Yeah, just let’s have some fun and we’re just talking, going down the fairway and stuff.
And so it was, it was great, but it was, it was terrifying. And the same, that very first time that I ever caddied, for real was for Robert Gamez and we got no practice in. I had no clue what I was doing. The golf course was underwater. I think we were in Shreveport, Louisiana. We didn’t get to play the Pro-Am.
He had just called me up and said, hey, I’m not playing good. I’m not having fun. I need to remember how to have fun on the golf course again, and basically he goes out, just come caddy for me, my caddy quit. Okay, and we got there and that very first hole it’s for real. I got that bib on, no practice, no clue what I’m doing.
And I’m good, it’s a par five and he comes into the bag and he takes the head cover off the driver. I lean in, I go, hey, don’t hit this in the sand, the bunker down there. Cause I don’t know how to rake like a pro.
Mackenzie: You can can’t tell him on I’m the first tee.
Michael Collins: Yeah, I know that now. He this look like, I was like, I wonder why he’s looking at me like that.
And of course he hit it right in the bunker comes over, slams the club in the bag. I just told you not to hit it in there. He goes, you can’t say that. And he ends up making birdie on the hole, and we’re laughing about it the whole time. That was my, that was kind of my introduction to caddying and, you know, and it was, you know, and I fell in love with it from that moment.
Cause then it was for me going from doing standup comedy where like, I’m the guy on stage with the spotlight and it’s just me and a microphone to being like, what I, I feel like it’s like the vice president, like I’m a stay behind the scenes, behind the curtain. I’m behind the curtain. I’m like the wizard of Oz, you know, you turn it on a bells and whistles or, you know, I’m like a, you’re like a jockey on a race horse, you know?
And so that part of it was really, really cool to me because it’s, it was about the psychology, you know, it’s about saying the right thing at the right time, and sometimes knowing when not to say anything.
Mackenzie: To me, having a comedian as a caddy seems like genius. Right? Golf is so stressful, and to have somebody that’s going to keep it light, like why, why aren’t there more comedians caddying, right?