Michael Collins: Well, here’s why you might be disappointed. Every guy that I am caddied for will probably tell you that I wasn’t really like funny on the golf course.
Michael Collins: Ah, there’s only moments, only moments, like you got to pick and choose, you know, I mean, it is, it is a business and it is a job. And that’s something where I think I got very lucky with a lot of other caddies.
I think when I first started caddying, you know, other caddies looked at me like, come on, was this guy doing, is he really. Like not taking this seriously? Or if he’s just goofing off, and I love the game so much and wanted to respect the game so much that I didn’t, I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to make caddying a joke, even when I was doing standup comedy and caddying, I kept them very separate, I talked about very little golf on stage when I was doing stand-up that hardly at all, because I didn’t, I don’t know. I felt like I didn’t want the two, really the mix. Cause I didn’t, I didn’t want people to think that’s what I was doing.
Oh, he’s just going out to caddy and he’s getting material now. Don’t get me wrong. I would, when they would come and chill and players would come to shows and stuff and I would see him, it’s on now. I got it. Right. But for the most part, it was very separate. So when I was on the course, you know, I was trying to caddy.
Now there were moments when, if things needed to be lightened up then yeah. I had an ability to do that, probably better than most other caddies, cause I’ll be able to pull stuff out, you know, would really break up the mood. There’s two great examples. One, I was caddying for Daniel Chopra and we were on this par five and he was stressed out we’re at the Honda way back in the day, and we were fighting to make the cut, he hit a great drive.
And now there’s a wait as the group in front of us is like around the green. They’re not even putting yet. So I know it’s going to be awhile and Daniel will get jacked up on the golf course. So now I got, hey man, chill, and he’s wanting to get the number and all this. And I’m like, we’re not going to stay in here for five minutes with you gripping that club. I got ready to go. so there was water down the left-hand side and there was a whole bunch of pelicans and I see him like starting to lock in.
I go, hey, look at all those pelicans. And then he was like, yeah, what about them? And I was like, you ever noticed, you never see a Pelican like with a crooked neck, but you were thinking at some point a Pelican would hit the water wrong. Right. Or else all the other pelicans would be like, hey, go right there. And there’s some ice and they’re probably going to hit the ice and be like, oh, you guys, why are you going to mess around? And now he starts laughing about that, and he’s not thinking about,
Michael Collins: the shot for the next five to 10 minutes. And then he hits it on there and we made Eagle, which was great.
And so like in moments like that, but probably my favorite was caddying for John Elliott, AKA Jumbo back in the day. And a first round, he played well, but he made like two bogey, two or three bogeys with a wedge in his hand. So he’s complaining. I’m the worst wedge player out here. I don’t know, wasting my time.
And I’m like, oh dude, this is first round. Like, no, this ain’t going to work. We get on a nice old par five and he hits driver in a rough and tries to kill a three wood out of the rough and pops it up. We got a hundred yards and he has to hit wedge, but I know in his head, he’s in a bad place. So when he’s, w we’re walking, I’m the worst wedge player, blah, blah, this and that, and I’m letting him talk when we get to the ball and I slammed the bag down and I looked at him and I go, yeah, you suck.
And he looked at me like I slapped him in the face. And I was like, yeah, I mean, there’s a bar, like two miles down. Maybe you can be a pro dart player, cause you know, you suck at this game, but even I’m a smart aleck. So, of course he’s trying not to laugh any F bombs me and hit it like this to about an inch, taps and taps in for birdie. 10th hole par four, hits driver, 60 yards left. When we get down there, I’m like, don’t know why you hit driver back there, you know you’re the worst wedge player out here, what were you thinking? And now he’s trying not to laugh, cause I’m like, you’re the worst words were out here. What were you thinking?
And he’s like, shut up stupid. Hit it the three feet, birdie. Par three, 11th hole, we got 139 yards and I look at him and I go, well, it’s got wedge in the name. Cause it was a pitching wedge and it makes contact, I’m like, oh, don’t go in. Don’t go in the hole. And that ball two hops spins left, hole in one. And as he’s posing, when the ball goes in the hole, he looks at me, now it’s funny, it’s a Nationwide tour in Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina, and there was probably, I don’t know, seven people there total. He looks at me like “I’m the worst wedge player in the world.” I don’t know why. And of course, then he F bombs me again, laughs and throws the club and I catch it in the walk in, and that was one of my friends.
So sometimes saying the right thing at the right time. And I’ll never forget after that round, the other two players that were in our group gave me their phone number and was like, hey, call us when you get a week off from comedy.
Mackenzie: That’s amazing. You mentioned, you know, trying to respect the caddying and not be too funny. And so how did you teach yourself to actually be a caddy considering it just pulled you in out of nowhere? How, how did you catch it up to the caddy knowledge?
Michael Collins: I had a lot of really, really good caddies that took the time to show me how to do it right. You know, I made, I made really good friends. And I think when a lot of caddies realized that, that it wasn’t a joke to me, that I really loved the job and I really wanted to be good, and I would ask questions and I tell them, listen, like I want to do this correctly.
Teach me how to rake a bunker correctly. Show me why you do that. Why do you do it that certain way? Why is it when certain angles you walk different angles and you start learning about geometry and whatnot too, it all comes into play. And it’s like, I wanted to go back to junior high and high school and tell my geometry teacher, I’m sorry that I was such pain. I ended up having to use it. You know?
So I mean, that, that was why is because there were so many really great caddies who were good dudes who took the time to like show me and teach me, you know, because they, they, I guess they also saw something in me as well, you know?
Mackenzie: Yeah. So what caddy tip that they gave you was the most surprising, that maybe our viewers would be like, oh, I didn’t know caddies had to know that?
Michael Collins: Well, the raking the bunker the correct way, depending on where you are, green side or even in the fairway, that’s a big thing that most amateurs don’t understand or know. That tip was huge and it’s not a penalty anymore, but Steve Williams at the US open saved me a two-stroke penalty on the first hole when me and Daniel got paired with him and Tiger at Shinnecock
Mackenzie: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You were, when you were with Tiger? Wait, wait,
Michael Collins: yeah, I was caddying for Daniel Chopra and Stevie of course was with Tiger Woods, and we got paired together on Saturdays third round. Yeah, if you go back and check the highlights of that, that is the tournament, that’s the round Tiger holdout for Eagle on 18, and he actually went and picked up the golf bag and fake, like he was going to carry the golf bag up the hill.
And then I walked up and tried to hand them our golf bag. I was like you can carry this too if you want to, it’s still to this day, the loudest roar that I’ve ever been like in the field of play on that roar, that roar, like had my ears ringing for a while.
Mackenzie: Oh my gosh. That’s amazing. Okay, back to the bunkers.
Michael Collins: Tiger hits the bunker shot first, and then we’re going to go second and I’m so jacked up that I’m like, I’m going to jump in there and rake the bunker and be like the superstar caddy and stuff. It would be awesome. Before Daniel hit, not at the time, if I’d have done that, it would have been considered testing the surface and it would have been a two-stroke penalty.
Stevie is leaning on the rake and he just stand there, leaning on it. And I tried to grab the rake from him before Daniel jumps in the bunker. And I’m yanking at this thing. And he’s not even, this is how strong Stevie is too. Like, I’m a, like I’m an ant or something, you know? And he, cause he knows if I grabbed that bunker and go in there, there’s two shots, but, and he at the time does not know me from Adam. I’m just some idiot, caddy rookie guy who doesn’t know his butt from a hole in the ground, and he doesn’t let me jump in there and rake. then Daniel jumps in and hits his bunker shot out and whatnot, and away we went. And I didn’t realize it until later, you know, which were, which was crazy.
Then the wild thing is this is, this is how the caddy fraternity works in Stevie too. Like that meant so much to me that a guy at that level would do something for a nobody, like years later, I told him that story and what it meant to me and how much that motivated me to become a good caddy. And I’m telling him this, I’m all emotional, like, man, you’re a brother forever. Like I got you, man. You know, I’m doing a media at the time, but I was like, I need to tell you this.
And he was like, Hey, thanks mate. I don’t even remember. He didn’t even remember that moment. It was hilarious though. We laugh about it now.
Mackenzie: That just speaks to the game right, of integrity and just sportsmanship. And that’s the game of golf, right?
Michael Collins: Yeah. Brotherhood of caddies. You know, there are, there are a few caddies that probably would have at the time back then would have, let me jump in that bunker and take the two-penalty stroke. Like, as I got you, because I mean, it is, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that caddying was a cutthroat business back then, you know?
Cause that’s when the money really started to explode. So when guys were losing jobs and whatnot, they were losing a lot of money and with caddy and there’s no, there’s no contract. You know, you’re week to week and at any time at any moment, for any reason you can be let go, you know, it’s just part of that’s the gig. That’s the gig.
Mackenzie: So, is there a, like, so you say you get let go, right? Where, is there a caddy pool? Like how do you get picked back up? Do you, do you network like, you just hang out on an event and…
Michael Collins: Back in the day, you would hang out in the parking lot on Monday. So like my first Chris Couch was my first full-time guy. And so when Chris, let me go, then I had to go to, you know, let me go. He missed the Monday qualifier in Phoenix at the Waste Management Open. He tried a Monday qualify and had his coach caddying and I got fired. Still don’t understand how that happened, but then that following week I went to Miami and was in the parking lot in Miami. Now that was back in the day when guys would show up and you’d be like, all right, if changes were made, let’s see, you know, Hey, I’m available. You know, I’m looking.
Nowadays, a lot of it’s done online. So like there’s a lot of DMs and on social media. And there’s also a lot of stuff that happens, like agents start reaching out, you know, you need to kind of keep the players protected. So the player will go to the agents. Hey, I think I might be thinking about making a change, so now you know, start fishing around to find out who’s available and like, you know, and, and when big name players make moves and big-name caddies start moving, it definitely has a ripple effect that goes down through the ranks.
You know, like this year Scottie Sheffler bringing on Ted Scott, you know, with Bubba and Ted Scott splitting that, that shook a lot of things up, you know, Jimmy Johnson splitting with Justin Thomas shook a lot of things up, you know, it, it got bones out of the broadcast booth, you know? So there, there are times when, you know, of course when Tiger and Steve split that too, like that shook a whole bunch of stuff up going down there, the ripple effect. So that’s, that’s how it kind of works now.
Mackenzie: that’s interesting. So like, if we have a listener who wants to get into caddying, what advice to give? I know your unconventional.
Michael Collins: All the time. Here’s the God’s honest truth. Number one, you’re not starting on a PGA tour. So get that idea. I get out, hey man, you should help me get out there. No, no, that’s not how it works. No, it’d be like, hey, this is my first week at the Byron Nelson. Like, nah, you not starting on the PGA tour, unless you’re a friend of a bro.
Like, unless you’re a friend or a relative, like you somebody’s cousin, they be like, hey man, I need to make some money fast, alright, come caddy and keep your mouth shut. Don’t say nothing. Other than, if you just a guy who wants to caddy, two things, one be ready to be broke for a while be ready to be broke for a while.
And number two, find a local tournament and go see if you can get a job there. So if there’s like a mini tour event, those guys would love to have somebody carrying their bag. You probably do it for 50 bucks a day, but you’re going to get experience at caddying a real event for a pro. Like that, cause it’s a big difference between caddying for an amateur at a country club, when you’re caddying for somebody who’s doing it for a living, for their job and their livelihood, you know, you don’t say the same things. You don’t do the same things because you know, it’s just a different style of caddying, you know, for the most part.
So I would say for anybody out there listening, and they’re like, man, I would, I want to be a caddy, that’s my dream is get on the PGA tour. Like, well, if your dream is to be broke for a while, if you got, if you got a family, then find a nice bridge for them to live under for a bit.
Mackenzie: Oh, so then, you say broke for a while…
Michael Collins: That’s the other, like there’s, there’s things that people don’t understand. So like you get a percentage of what the player makes. So when you’re caddying on like the Corn Ferry tour, you might only make a thousand dollars a week, but then you got to pay your own airfare, your own rental car, your own hotel, but you got to share a room.
I remember when I first started caddying, and this is back in the day, Priceline then came out. So we would use Priceline and Hotwire back in the day, they kind of caught on to it, you know, and we would have three and four caddies in the room to try and save money. You know, whoever’s player played the best they got the bed, you know, and then whoever was worse, they had the floor, you know, so you would have two beds, then he would bring a cot in and then somebody slept on the floor or the sofa as well. Like whatever you could do to save money, and if your player misses the cut, you’re losing money, you’re going to lose money that week. And sometimes if they make the cut and finish like 50th, you break even. And that’s it. And if you break even, then you got rent on apartment at home, you’re not paying it. Like you got a car note, you’re not playing it. You got insurance; you’re not paying it.
So, it’s not as glamorous as people think. You just see, yeah, Cam Smith won 3.6 million and this cat is going to get a check for $360,000, which is awesome. But that’s the very top. That’s not the mid-tier to low tier guys where most caddies are going to have to start and cut their teeth.
Mackenzie: That’s completely understandable. It’s almost like playing right, similar to, it’s playing, right? it’s that grind.
Michael Collins: Yeah.
Mackenzie: So what are some of the perks to caddying then?
Michael Collins: I mean, I’m standing inside the ropes and standing on a driving range with the greatest players in the world, and get the call them now friends, and get to walk some of the most beautiful golf courses in the entire world, carrying a golf bag. And you know, every now and then, you know your player or somebody in a group, hey, we’re going to go over here to this spot.
You want to, you want to jump on the private jet with us? Yeah, yo, or like you get in the Pro-Am and you’re like, holy cow, who we playing with celebrity from a movie or TV show or famous musician or an athlete from another sport, a hall of Famer. I mean, I can’t tell you what golf has introduced me to that when I was just doing stand-up comedy, I would have never believed, you know, when I first started.
So the perks of being a PGA tour caddy and caddying out at that level are, are almost immeasurable. It’s almost immeasurable.
Mackenzie: That’s amazing. That is amazing. So now you are America’s caddy. No, not this one person. You are all of our caddies. So how, how did you get to be Americas caddy?
Michael Collins: So when I first started at ESPN, I told them of a show idea that I had, that I wanted to do a variety show, that was like a combination of things and it would be fun and not your normal golf show that basically just golf is, golf is the baseline, but the show is going to be so much more. At first they were like, Hmm,
Michael Collins: it sounds awesome.
It’s going to be way too expensive. Cause you know, I’ve got grand plans. Like I to do some things, then I don’t want to just go out there with the little cell phone. Like I want it to be a big production, cause I kind of see, like I said, knowing what golf is in and knowing the areas and the people that golf touches and where the tour gets to go.
I wanted to kind of show that, and then I also wanted to show the golfers the way that I know them, not the guys, you see them when they’re, when they’re quote unquote at work. You know, when they’re working, you see guys like Patrick Cantlay and whatnot. You’re like, man, that dude looks about as exciting as vanilla dream.
Right. But then when he’s not doing that and you’re talking to him, he’s fun and engaging, really smart. And it’s like, holy cow, this is the dude. Like, you’d be cool to have a drink with then just sit down and talk life. And so like, that was one of my big things was like, I want to do that. I want people to see the guys that I know the way that I know them, you know?
So then later on we just kept talking and talking and talking to him when ESPN plus was created, someone reached out and said, hey, you still interested in doing…? Yeah, and Matt Berry and Matt Berry and Jonathan Coachman, when those two guys were, coachmen isn’t with ESPN anymore, but when he was anchoring on Sports Center with Matt Berry, they used to always just call me caddy. Hey caddy, hey caddy.
So it kind of became my nickname. And so that kind of transformed into, well, if you’re going to travel all over the place, then you got to not just represent caddy, you representing America because that’s where you’re going. Oh, you get to be America’s caddy. And so that’s how it came about.
Mackenzie: Awesome. So then who’s player story was your favorite?
Michael Collins: Man, I don’t know, I love talking to Sahith Theegala, and it was before he had his tour card when he was just playing in the, he got, you got to play in the Memorial tournament, and we sat down and talked and like, he was one of those guys that not a lot of people had ever heard of, you know, coming from the college ranks, yeah, he’s really well known, but fringe, just sports fans and friends, golf fans were like, who is this guy? And like sitting there talking to him was really cool, but you know, one of my favorite people in the whole world, Tony Finau, knowing that he used to juggle fire, like that, him and his family juggled fire to make money so that he could play golf.
Yeah. Him, him and his brother had his dad put a mattress in the middle of the garage, and Tony would hit on one side and his brother would hit on the other side. And that’s how he learned how to play golf. And then to get into junior tournaments, to raise enough money, they would go put on Luaus and he was one of the fire jugglers. So he had like knives that were on fire,
Michael Collins: which is crazy and like hearing that story. Like knowing that not everybody out on the PGA tour, like had a silver spoon in their mouth and was the country club kid, because you got kids that, you know, grew up kind of in the hood, you know, Finau is one of those stories, you know, his and his brother Gipper.
And I don’t know if Gipper still playing golf anymore or not, but like the two there, that story, that family, that that’s pretty impactful as far as like golfers go.
Mackenzie: Right. That’s how You get rid of your nerves, right? Juggle knives that are on fire.
Michael Collins: You better have a little bit of conference. You know what I mean? You’d be up there with like four. Hey, what’s up, lucky? How’s juggling? Not too good. I ain’t practice enough.
Mackenzie: Oh my God. That is crazy.
As we kind of wind down a little bit, we have a quick nine questions.
Michael Collins: Alright.
Michael Collins: yeah, come on.
Mackenzie: Who are the three other players in your dream foursome?
Michael Collins: All right. I’ll play with Jesus because I’ve got a lot of questions. I want to play with Nelson Mandela, you know what I would throw like John F. Kennedy in there.
Mackenzie: Number two, what’s your favorite 19th hole beverage?
Michael Collins: It depends if we’re playing somewhere cold, give me something with like Bailey’s Irish cream and coffee in it or something. If it’s super-duper hot outside, like I want a transfusion. If we’re just having fun and it’s just like, I don’t know, 75 degrees, not a cloudless sky or something like that, and we go to the end, I, I love like a Dark and Stormy. Give me something with some ginger beer, a little snap to it or whatnot.
Mackenzie: Who’s your comedy idol.
Michael Collins: One, Pryor of course. Pryor is the legend, but there’s again, so many, and comedians know this, like there we stand on shoulders of greatness, the guys who opened doors Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Carlin, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, like all those different styles that, that prove that there’s no wrong way to do stand-up comedy. You know, you just have to be fearless.
Mackenzie: What’s your best knock, knock joke?
Michael Collins: Knock, knock,
Mackenzie: who’s there,
Michael Collins: banana.
Mackenzie: Banana who? Oh, here we go. Okay.
Michael Collins: understand when I was standing up. I did not do joke jokes. I just told stories. Whatever happened in my life?
Mackenzie: If you could caddy for anyone, who would it be?
Michael Collins: I mean, Tiger’s always the dream. Nicholas, would be another one. As a caddy. I want to caddy for the best, just because I want to know if, if my caddying skills can hold up
Mackenzie: What is your favorite golf course?
Michael Collins: Plantation course Kapalua. I could play that golf course every day.
Mackenzie: Music or no music on the golf course?
Michael Collins: Music! Well, that’s not even a question.
Mackenzie: What are you playing?
Michael Collins: Instrumental hip hop.
Mackenzie: What advice would you give a new golfer?
Michael Collins: It’s all about having fun. As long as you’re out there having a good time, you know, Stuart Appleby one time in a Pro-Am I saw him say this to a dude who was getting mad and like wanting to throw clubs and, and still, it was like, you’re not good enough to get mad, which cracks me up.
But it’s so true! Especially nowadays, because you see so many highlights of things that everything is perfect. And it’s about the work that goes in, right? So from most amateurs and people that are just starting, you’re just going out to have a good time.
Mackenzie: In one word, what does golf mean to you?
Michael Collins: Everything. Everything people use the, ask me all the time, which I like better comedy or caddying. And my answer has always been the same golf has my heart and comedy has my soul. Without golf, we’re not having this conversation. Nothing career-wise that has happened to me since that fateful week in 1998 in Hilton Head, none of this happens without golf. None of it. So golf for me is everything.
Mackenzie: Oh, I love it. I love that. So as we conclude, tell people where they can get ahold of you, follow you.
Michael Collins: Well, if you need me to pocket, I’ll be Valet. I feel like I do a little bit of everything. American Caddy is on ESPN+. I still do a whole bunch of Sports Center stuff, still write on espn.com.
I also do a bunch of writing stuff behind on ESPN+ as well. That’s what the gambling stuff. You can find me on Sirius XM. There are two shows on there. One called Hitting the Green, another one called Out of Bounds and the Out of Bounds ones, whoa, that’s a crazy one. Some weeks is Pat Perez, some weeks as Jason Kokrak, and some weeks is Harold Varner the Third, let’s just say that’s the Sirius XM show with no holds barred. There is nothing being held back on that show. So yeah, you find me all over the place. Instagram and Twitter is at espncaddie. So everywhere, all over.
Mackenzie: well, thank you for being America’s caddie and keeping us in the fairway. And thank you for being on the show.
Michael Collins: Mackenzie, thanks for having me on the show.
Mackenzie: Thanks for joining us Michael, and thank you for listening. Be sure to follow this show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you like to listen so you don’t miss an episode.
I’m Mackenzie Mack, and I’ll talk with you next time on getting to the green!