The Herald Sun posted quite possibly the most egregiously offensive and unnecessary cartoon today in reference to the passing of caddie Iain McGregor. Will Gray has the tweet and background here. Kenneth Quillinan takes the Herald to task here.
All too often when the characters in golf pass we don't hear enough tributes and while I didn't know the man, I've enjoyed this tribute submitted by a friend who only wished to go by Drummo, though I'm pretty sure to those who knew MacGregor they will know the author.
Besides, the identity is less important than the sentiments...
I'm not a writer or journo. I'm just a mate.
But due to an inappropriate and insensitive comic in the Australian media and treatment as nothing more than an annoying inconvenience to a the finishing of a golf tournament by the European Tour, I feel I have to say some words to give a friend a better send off and the respect he deserves in death.
Caddy Iain McGregor was a friend to many around the world. Players, journalists, staff, hangers-on, fellow caddies past and present. To a few, like a brother. A real person, a small part of some lives, huge to others. I knew him from 1999 and shared hotels, jokes, cars, meals, arguments, tales, drinks, days and nights with him. Others knew him better, others not. I'm just one of them and I'm so glad I did.
Mac had such enthusiasm for the game of golf and like most caddies thrived on the challenge of doing what he could for his player (of which he had many and varied) for 15 years. He loved being part of the decision making process of each shot, usually getting his way due to his uncompromising persona. If he thought it'd help, he'd practically push an unsure player out of the way to demonstrate the action necessary. He was firm, but did the job well. He'd never let a player's head drop. Mac was an old-school, tough-as-old-boots, straight-talking bagman that did his best, loved the life on and off the course -tour life. His life.
Mac was a raconteur, and in caddyshacks, practice fairways or in bars, would tell us tales of Africa, as many do involving characters you'd know only by name but felt as if you'd grown up with them. Animals and locations were described, arms pointing to various locations, probably correct due to his bushcraft. He'd baffle us by speaking the Shona of his native Zimbabwe, even if we had no idea what he was saying although the tone was a giveaway at times. He would listen to our daily offerings, giving advice. "China, you MUST....(fill in with his thoughts)", sometimes being quite assertive. What he thought or what he wanted wasn't always right, but his intentions were always good! He wanted to meet people and share stories and laugh.
Iain was also a father. Most of us never met his daughter, but we all felt we knew her. He spoke very proudly of his "pikinin". In his wallet he carried an old tattered picture of her which he'd show off in a short display of emotion. I overheard some of his frequent calls back home to her and there was no doubt he cherished those few minutes, but hated hanging up. He loved her more than anything.
I, like many that knew him, have struggled the last few days emotionally. Events such as those last Sunday in any walk of life are shocking and devastating. On the sporting field, rare. I don't know why The European Tour and The Herald Sun editor came to the decisions they made. The reasons and excuses will come (but for me, never justified). Our friend died. I'm not so sure Mac would want to carry on in an event that a tragedy had become obviously, to most, the focal point. I'm sure he'd make a lot of noise about inappropriate or unfair commentary. However I'm not asking for heads to roll due a display of emotion or as a knee-jerk reaction here. That discussion is for another time. I'd rather be celebrating the life of a top bloke.
It must be said I'm by no means trying to paint a picture of an incredible man! Like most of us he had his faults. He got angry. He rubbed people up the wrong way. He drank. He smoked. We know cigarettes and alcohol can lead to a heart attack, but it's flippant to pass it off as just that. Carrying a tour sized golf bag for up to 10km a day is more exercise than most 52 year olds, but I'm not here to speak about the reasons for his death. I'm not qualified. Besides it's not the point. He was a mate and many of us loved him, warts and all.
Mac was the sort of person that makes an organization or tour. Stalwart. Backbone. Honest. Amiable. Charismatic. There. He'd gained some respect.
Stories will be told amongst his friends and colleagues, some funny, some edgy, some stretched and I hope that they're continued. While we're sad at his passing, we'll also smile that were we lucky enough to be a part of those stories, whether involved or witnessed, and smile.
I don't want a witch-hunt. I just wanted to say some kind words about a mate, and give him the send off he deserves. We'll miss you Mac.
Ufambe zvakanaka, shamwari.