Monday, September 28, 2015

Jordan Spieth and a very rich caddy

First of all, congrats to Jordan Spieth. He started off the golfing year winning the first two majors, and missed by one stroke in the third. Zoom, right to #1 in the world. Very impressive indeed. Then some Aussie named Jason Day got super hot and toppled the Texas kid from the throne. Temporarily.

However, when it counted most, JS came through. He not only won the season-ending Tour Championship, but captured the Fed-Ex crown as well. Besides the hefty purse that went along with winning this tourney, and returning to #1 in the world again, he got a whopping extra $10 million as the Fed-Ex champ. This was golf's version of the playoffs in other major sports. A big trophy, lots of dough, and bragging rights for a year to whoever comes out on top. All hail Jordan Spieth, king of the links, but he probably won't get a parade. Even that goofy Tiger Woods never got a parade, unless you count the bimbos -- but that's old news.

So no doubt Jordan Spieth, at the tender young age of 22, is quite the happy camper these days.

But you know who's even happier? His caddy.

That would be one Michael Greller. If you've watched golf tournaments on TV, you've seen him toting Spieth's bag.

Though he looks younger, Greller is actually 37. A former middle school math teacher that originally volunteered to caddy at various tournaments in his spare time, free of charge, for any player that would have him. Evidently, Greller had a thing about carrying another man's bag. Ahem.

Regardless, as fate would have it, he eventually hooked up with Spieth, and the rest is ongoing history.

Greller had been imparting the ways of math on the puberty terrorists for maybe 50-60 grand a year. Not a bad wage. But there's all those lessons to be drawn up, tests to be created and graded, the same with homework, having to cope with nitwit parents at the dreaded PTA conferences, and mostly being in the company of kids at their most rebellious age. Long hours filled with stress galore. Who needs it?

Consider where he's at now.

Different caddies for different players on different circuits make different wages. Some typically make a base salary of $1000-1500 a week, plus a share of their player's winnings, if they make the cut. Not bad. Beats cooking fries at Mickey D's, and is likely on a par, no pun intended, with what a junior high teacher knocks down.

Caddies certainly aren't unionized, so there's no guaranteed wages or benefits while plying their craft. They all work out their own deals with the player that employs them.

But the rule of thumb on the PGA tour is as follows:

For a player finishing outside the Top Ten in any given tournament, and by definition most do, the caddy will receive 5% of their winnings -- given the player made the cut at all.

Inside the Top Ten but not a winner? The rate goes up to 7%. Decent bucks.

Typically, the champion of any tournament is expected to give his caddy 10% of his earnings. In other words, win a million bucks, and the caddy gets a hundred grand. Definitely better than asking customers whether they want the extra-crispy or original chicken recipe.

After winning the Fed-Ex cup, Jordan Spieth's earnings this year topped $20 million on the golf courses. If Michael Greller was a 10 percenter -- the math is simple enough.

He made two million bucks. Plus he gets free first class air travel to exotic places featuring the finest golf courses and enjoys the luxury of staying in 5-star hotels. All this, while only working maybe 30 weeks a year. His young master doesn't enter just any old tournament these days, because he doesn't have to. #1 is #1 and they can pick and choose which venues they wish to play -- or shun. Arnie did it. So did Jack. As did Eldrick. It's good to be king.

It's even better to be his caddy.

For one Michael Greller, I'm guessing raking in two million living the life of luxury surely beats the hell out of putting up with a classroom full of adolescent hormones running amok for a measly 50 grand or so.

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