Archive for June, 2012
Book review by Mary Armstrong
Tripp Bowden was a typical 10 year-old boy – hungry, impressionable and always up for something to do. When his physician father invites Tripp to join him and the Augusta National Caddy Master in his office for an informal consultation…well, the rest is history.
Freddie Bennett wasn’t just Augusta National’s Caddy Master – a position considerably under the radar by the way – he was their LEGENDARY Caddy Master. Freddie called Augusta National home for over 50 years. In a way it was fitting that CaddyMaster, Incorporated took over in 2000 because no one person could have filled his shoes. being a Caddy Master is first and foremost about pairing caddie with player. If this was all that Freddie did he still would have been legendary, but that was just the beginning.
The Bowden family’s move to Berckmans Road before that summer may not have been instrumental in Tripp’s journey through Freddie’s world, but being just around the corner from famed Magnolia Lane made the first leg a lot shorter. Tripp could have cared less about golf at 10 years old, but the chance to go fishing with one of his Dad’s buddies – well, now that was special. Turns out the little fishing hole just down the road was at a place called Augusta National Golf Club and his Dad’s buddy was the inimitable Freddie Bennett.
Whether it was teaching Tripp how to grip the club on a fishing pole or telling him he couldn’t have golf shoes until he broke 80, Freddie’s way of helping Tripp find a life he didn’t know he wanted was subtle, but masterful. Tripp was the first white caddie to don the Augusta National white jumpsuits, but this story isn’t about racial differences and it’s not about the legendary golf course. To my mind it’s about a man that led by example; a role model without trying; and a boy becoming a young man with the qualities that led him to a rich, fulfilling life.
Don’t get me wrong, if you want insight into the inner workings of Augusta National, the nuances of the course or like to read about celebrities, Freddie and Me can give you all that as well. The 200 odd-page book is a fast read for sure. Seventy-two short chapters capture “mini-acts” in the life of Bowden and Bennett. As you might expect the book is also full of “Freddie-isms”. Among them:
“To quiet down a raucous caddy house: ‘I just told them if they didn’t shut up, I wasn’t gonna pay ‘em. Man, it got so quiet you could hear a rat pissing on cotton.’ ”
“To the caddie sniffing around the bags that arrived on a Sunday afternoon: ‘You don’t want his bag, man. He’s got short arms and deep pockets.’ ”
If you’ve had a “Freddie” in your life this book will bring memories of his or her influences on you. But if you’re really lucky and don’t think you’ve had a “Freddie” it just might reveal one to you.