#AskAlan mailbag: Which player/caddie duo is unbreakable?

To the questions…

Cody Blick fired a 63 in the final round of Q school to get status. Has there ever been a better round played with rentals? Only close comparison I know of is Sam Saunders medaling in 2015 US Open qualifier with his caddie’s clubs. But he didn’t have to dip into the rental bin. #AskAlan -Chris (@ctimmerman35)

Yes, years from now they’re going to be singing songs in taverns about the Blickman’s round. That took incredible fortitude. It also should give us some perspective as we all obsess over our clubs. I remember at a long ago Presidents Cup, David Duval broke a club and and had to borrow an 8-iron. He used it to flag a tee shot on a closing par-3 to help win the match. Afterward he shrugged it off, saying, “An 8-iron is an 8-iron.” But to your question, the greatest round ever played with rentals might’ve been after FedEx lost my clubs and I had to play the Old Course with decades-old loaners. I hit the ball pretty well, but what made the round so heroic was that I was wearing busted-out rental shoes in which I could feel the contours of all the feet that had preceded mine. No golfer has ever displayed more heroism.

Now that we’ve seen the end of Phil/Bones and Zach/Damon, what is the player/caddie combo that you say will never split up? #AskAlan -Chris (@BetterThanMost)

Pat Perez and Mike Hartford, who also serves as psychoanalyst and wet nurse. They’ve been inseparable since they were teens and H, as he has known, has the final say on club selection. As Perez once told me, “I put my entire trust in H. He’ll say, ‘You’ve got 158 front, 172 hole, 165 over this corner, wind off the left, give me a three-quarter six-iron.’ Bang. Done. He can see it more clearly than I can. With all the pressure and the nerves, it’s easy to lose your head out there.” And these days, it’s easy to lose your caddie, but this is one partnership that will endure.

Pat Perez and caddie

Have you ever done a Mount Rushmore of golf? -Rich @rdpatterson99

Probably, but since I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning, let’s do it again. Mt. Rushmore is a tough template because it leaves room for only four. Three golfers are no-brainers: Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods. The competition for the last spot is fierce but, with apologies to Old Tom, Seve, Sam Snead, and Byron Nelson, in my mind, it comes down to two: Palmer vs. Hogan. Arnie is the most important popularizing figure in the game’s history. He made the Masters the Masters, compelled every top American to cross the Atlantic for the Open Championship and along the way ushered in golf’s TV age. Hogan is one of the most mythologized athletes in history, across any sport. His many career accomplishments are even more incredible when you consider all the time he missed serving in the Army and recuperating from getting hit by a bus. Who gets the nod? The head says Hogan, the heart says Palmer.

With the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble, should we expect to see a larger pro field at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and thus, most importantly, you finally getting the call for the pro am? -Howard (@hriefs)

The field won’t be bigger but it will better as glory-hungry pros come in to scout Pebble for the first time (a la Tommy Fleetwood) or to peep the modifications to the 13th, 14th and 17th greens and the Open rough lines that are already growing in. The hard part for me isn’t getting the invite but coming up with the $20K entry fee to play in the Clambake. The folks who run the tournament are hard-core about raising money for charity, which means everyone in the field pays full freight. I ‘spose I could start a GoFundMe but that seems kind of tacky. Then again, the readers have a right to know. Hmmmmmmm.

Have you ever visited me? Did you love me? And if you haven’t when will you come see me? #AskAlan [email protected]

You would certainly know if I had been there, because by law I would have tweeted extensively about it, whilst wearing a Buck Club hat. So, no, not yet. But definitely someday soon.

Jordan Spieth

#AskAlan predictions for the now married Jordan Spieth number of victories this year? Over/Under 2. #fan –@eugesounds

Pretty much every week Spieth questions trickle in, and they skew toward this duality. Done?!? The dude is 25! I’ll take the over on two victories – I think he’ll rebound in a big way. Even during the worst season of his young career Spieth still had a chance to win the Masters and British Open. Tee to green he has become one of the best players in the world, and he’ll figure out the putting. He may never again roll it like he did in 2015, but that’s okay, because only a couple of guys in the game’s history ever have. Even with merely very good putting Spieth will still be a threat.

When pros switch manufacturers is it because they believe the clubs/balls are better or just $$$? [email protected]

The sweet, unsullied innocence of this question is so endearing. I can imagine you hand-feeding a baby deer when you typed it. I hate to be disillusioning, but it is pretty much always about the money.

I’m not sure she would want to attempt it but could Lexi make the cut at a PGA tour event? -Mike (@mdarmstrong)

Certainly. If she plays well Lexi could easily shoot three- or four-under, which should make the cut at a Tour event. I’d love to see her try it.

If I can play one public course in SF or the East Bay at the end of this month, which one should it be? Presidio? Harding Park? Some other hidden gem? -Michael (@mcooney1)

Harding is very good and with the PGA Championship and Presidents Cup headed that way it would be cool for you to see it. But I would implore you to drive an hour south to Pasatiempo, which is way more fun and memorable than Harding or any of the other public tracks in the Bay Area.

Will we have resolution to the distance issue in 2019 (USGA/RA)? [email protected]

No.

Are we now in the wraparound post-season, the 2019 preseason or just holiday break? Call me confused. -John (@jjbuckspa)

There is a name for a month without any meaningful golf: purgatory.