Please God, don't let it rain again

David Loughrey has immersed himself in the world of the humble caddy at this year's New Zealand Open in Arrowtown. These are his experiences.

It is hard to expect the unexpected.

The unexpected is, by its very nature, a sort of surprise, an unplanned surprise that undoes the very best-made plans.

That's why they call it unexpected.

In the pre-dawn excitement at The Hills yesterday, in a moment when nature dictated a brief visit to the stunningly affluent facilities lined with mirrors and exhibiting at least one bawdy photograph, I managed to lose my golf pro, and there he was set to tee off at the 10th at 7.30am and I wasn't there.

I raced from the shuttle van shamefaced and slightly rattled to begin my first caddying assignment, just in time for a fellow to introduce the golfers as they stepped up to the tee to draw their clubs decisively back over their shoulder, hesitate for just a moment, then unwind like a tightly coiled spring to rocket the ball into space.

It was reasonably awesome.

It wasn't long, however, before the gaps in my caddying knowledge began to make themselves evident.

I put the putter back in the wrong place in the bag, where it could have been damaged by the irons, and moved at the wrong time as the player was setting up.

They were slightly difficult moments, but not as difficult as when the rain came.

It came about two holes in, and it required the previously unconsidered issue of golfing umbrellas, their use and the etiquette that surrounds them.

I was told in no uncertain terms my No1 priority was to keep the equipment dry, by holding the umbrella over it like one would over something that would be very badly affected by the slightest amount of moisture of any sort.

That meant not wandering stupidly away from the bag to fix a divot, and it meant trying to clean wet and grassy clubs while holding an enormous soaked umbrella, and putting them away at the same time as keeping up with the pro, who appeared to amble thoughtfully round the course but somehow kept up the most remarkable pace.

One has to be careful not to apologise for one's obvious shortcomings too loudly while someone is putting, because that makes things doubly, perhaps triply, worse.

And in such a moment, one can look at the other caddies with their easy bonhomie and their wise counsel and their casual enjoyment of the whole thing and think perhaps this just isn't for you; you are, after all, a journalist, not a sportsman, for the very good reason sport was always a thing you have done the opposite to excelling at.

But just as the darkest night turns to dawn, and as the worst storm batters itself into submission, the leaden skies that hung so low and heavy over Arrowtown yesterday began just perceptibly to lighten, and the rain began to wane.

Slowly, after six, seven, perhaps eight holes, the most awkward caddy finds some sort of rhythm, works out where they should be and what they should be doing and why.

And as the golfers thump their clubs on the ground, and hook and slice and curse, the caddy stays quiet, and merely offers clubs when they are needed, stands silent and still somewhere near where he should be standing, doesn't drop the bag and doesn't do anything too stupid.

If there's one thing in life to hope for, it's to be not too stupid.

That's why when play begins at Millbrook today, I'll be bringing my game face, and perhaps the rhythm will come more quickly, and the golf pro will benefit from that.

Let us hope so.

But please God, don't let it rain.


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