Ron Sirak hung out for a week with a group of LPGA caddies to understand what makes them so devoted to weekly traveling on a tour where the No. 74 player on the LPGA Tour money list probably made less than most PGA Tour loopers.
Complicating matters is the tour's increased international presence.
The days of the hard-living bag-toter who would close the bars at night and work the next day through bloodshot eyes are mostly gone. These loopers are more than mere porters lugging around a 45-pound staff bag. Caddies have evolved into a mix of mathematician, psychologist, cartographer and bodyguard, all while remaining a Sherpa.
“Oh, my, those early days,” says Killeen, smiling. “At our house in Oakmont in 1992 [for the U.S. Women’s Open] we had empties stacked up this high,” he said, holding his hand over his head. “What do I like the most about this job? The people. The travel. The fact I have half the year off.”
And Killeen clearly relishes his role as house father of the group.
“You should have smelled it this morning,” Castrale says about their shared house in Phoenix on Thursday. “At 5 a.m., he’s already got the Irish stew simmering. John sent out a group text telling us where the car was parked and saying, ‘Early guys, when you get home, don’t forget to stir the stew.’ ”