6:00am Thursday 27th February 2014
By Paul Fraser
WHAT started as something of a hobby has turned in to a full-blown career path and, a little like his elder brother, Douglas Dinwiddie is determined to break in to the world’s top golfers in the years ahead.
Douglas has found he has a real talent around the greens, but rather than concentrate on developing his swing like European Tour man Robert, he is focused on helping others as they walk up the fairways by carrying a bag.
“I was down to a single figure handicap when I was younger, now I’m around 12, but I never really had the love for playing golf like Rob has,” said Douglas, who is still a member at Barnard Castle Golf Club like his brother.
“I was more of a rugby player myself for the county sides rather than golf, there’s flashes when I play of the decent shots I could play, but I am a far better caddie than I am a golfer; undoubtedly.”
It was back in 2009 when Douglas first tried out being a bag-man. His first role was alongside Robert. The partnership remained intact for two-thirds of the Challenge Tour the following year when he retained his main card and he was still handing over the clubs for much of his first season back on the European Tour in 2011. Then there was a professional parting, so to speak.
“I am sure we will work together again and maybe it will be not that far away,” said Douglas. “The thing is with being brothers, there is history in the relationship so you can often speak your mind, say things that you might not normally say to others so comfortably and that obviously leads to cross-words.
“You definitely have your run-ins. There are differences of opinions between any golfer and caddies, but when it is brothers you can maybe say a few things more, which also helps sometimes.
“As a caddie you have to sometimes stand up for your opinion if something hasn’t come off and you are getting the blame. That can cause to problems. You do often get it in the neck.”
But Douglas thoroughly enjoys his role, even if there is so much uncertainty surrounding his future. After leaving Robert’s side, he went to work with Dutchman Floris De Vries but after a tough year that came to an end.
“I ended up back at Barnard Castle and got a sales job in Darlington,” said Douglas. “I lasted two months! I realised it wasn’t for me and I went back to caddying for Mark Haastrup (the Dane) in 2012 on the main Tour. I was always planning on going back, but I just decided on doing it a lot earlier.”
Douglas graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a degree in sports coaching after leaving Barnard Castle School, but it is a career as a caddie which now really interests in him over the long term.
The 29-year-old, who split from Matthew Nixon after finishing tied 27th at the Africa Open at the East London Club earlier a fortnight ago, is back in the North-East ahead of taking over the bag of Chilean Mark Tullo at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on March 13.
After that he is unsure what the future holds, but he will not be giving it up and has ambitions to be caddie for one of the world’s elite golfers.
“There is a lot more to caddying that just carrying a bag,” said Douglas. “I’m not the type, either to just stay quiet, which is what some golfers want. But I have an opinion. It’s more about course management, with a yardage book to consider, nutritional diets ... there’s also the side of it where you are there to keep a golfer’s spirits up.
“In caddying there’s the three ups: ‘Keep up, Show Up and Shut up’. You have to remember those as you go along too, and speak at the right time. But I like to have an opinion on most things. I can’t just walk around saying nothing, I’d feel under challenged.
“Competition for caddying jobs is so high now, you almost have to be a professional athlete nowadays. You have to take it very seriously. For instance the night before a round I will go for a walk on the course, check the clubs, make sure everything is right. There’s no going out and drinking on tour before a round!”
Financially being a professional caddie by hugely rewarding too, along with the excitement travelling. “Top 60 has to be the aim for me in the next few years,” said Douglas. “You can earn around £150,000 a year take home pay if you do, but you have to be at the top to achieve that.
“At the other end of the scale, if you are working regularly, but with someone struggling to keep their card, you could earn a take home pay of around £30,000-a-year. It’s like gambling every time you take on a golfer, looking for the right one, hoping to strike up a good partnership along the way – and hitting the jackpot!”
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