MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND | At the start of this week’s AIG Women’s British Open, when there were too many members of the media huddled about the latest players in the scoring area, an obvious alternative was to chat to the caddies. Usually, on such occasions, they will do no more than echo what the girls themselves are saying. But on Thursday there was one who gave an intriguing glimpse into his own life.
Sho Kimura, caddie to Minami Katsu, was hanging around waiting for his employer to finish her conversation with the massed ranks of the Japanese press and, since that little party were consumed with giggles, the question had to be asked of Sho if his player was always that cheerful. Sho’s reply, delivered in unexpectedly fluent English, was along the lines that she laughed all the time, even on the course. And on those occasions when she was not laughing, he would do his best to keep her amused, which was what she wanted of him.
The lad’s English encouraged further conversation, and before too long he revealed that his caddying career had begun when he was 10 or 11 and would caddie for his mother, Toshimi Kimura.
Bob Kendall, who is currently working with Ayako Uehara, volunteered how, in an eventuality he had never known before, each of the three caddies in his group, Mike Paterson, Pete Godfrey and himself, had caddied for a women’s major winner.
Toshimi was no ordinary golfer in that she had been good enough to win 10 times on the Japan LPGA Tour in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The proud son was happy to continue. “She is still a champion,” he said.
At this point in the conversation, he trawled through the pictures on his mobile and came up with a photo of Dustin, one of his mother’s assortment of award-winning schnauzers. “Japanese champion!” he announced.
Only there was more to the story than that and, as the giggles continued to flow from the other side of the scoring area, Sho had time to tell of how, when Toshimi, now famous among Japanese dog breeders, won that equivalent of a golfing major with Dustin, she had received a host of congratulatory letters. So many that she had selected the 10 best and arranged for each of the writers to receive a pedigree schnauzer.
Another wait in the scoring area yielded a tale of three proud caddies. Bob Kendall, who is currently working with Ayako Uehara, volunteered how, in an eventuality he had never known before, each of the three caddies in his group, Mike Paterson, Pete Godfrey and himself, had caddied for a women’s major winner.
Paterson, who works for So Yeon Ryu, had won his in tandem with Australia’s Karrie Webb; Godfrey had been on Ariya Jutanugarn’s bag when she captured the Women’s British Open at Woburn in 2016 and was back in place for this week; and Kendall was at Sherri Steinhauer’s side when she won the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2006.
That, though, turned out not to have been the proudest moment of Kendall’s caddying career. Instead, he chose the day he married a caddying colleague by name of Denise.
In which connection, a caddie marrying a caddie may be rare, but there are several caddies who have married their players. According to the Japanese pressmen, it happens quite often in that part of the world. Among Western liaisons, Danny Taylor is married to Pernilla Lindberg, with whom he won last year’s ANA Inspiration; Fred Bonnargent is married to Karine Icher, a regular member of the European Solheim Cup side; and Duane Smith is married to Sarah Jane Smith (nee Kenyon), who is held to have one of the best-looking swings on the LPGA Tour. (The couple have just had their first child.)
All of which suggests that a caddie’s success is about so much more than choosing the right clubs. In the case of Sho Kimura, it’s about making his player laugh; and in the case of those directly above, it would seem that the priority is one of selecting the right bag.
Minami Katsu, left, cheerfully walks a fairway with her caddie, Sho Kimura. Photo: Atsushi Tomura, Getty Images
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