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19th Hole

Caddie Corner: 10 questions with PGA Tour veteran caddie Shannon “Shan” Wallis (Jonas Blixt’s caddie)

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PGA Tour caddie Shannon Wallis with a fire extinguisher, back when he caddied for Steven Bowditch (Via @Bowdo83 on Twitter)

In this new GolfWRX feature, called the “Caddie Corner,” we’ll be firing off questions to a different caddie every week on the PGA Tour.

Caddies, or “loopers,” as some call them, are the too-often-overlooked people who actually have a huge impact on players every week on the PGA Tour. They’re tasked with many objectives – everything from carrying the bag, raking bunkers and getting yardages, to playing psychologist on the golf course as their player competes for millions.

If you’re curious to learn more about the caddies, as well as their stories, lifestyle and insights, then welcome to the “Caddie Corner.”

For the first edition of the Caddie Corner, we grilled veteran PGA Tour caddie Shannon “Shan” Wallis, who currently loops for Jonas Blixt. The Australian got his start on the PGA Tour in 2004, and has also worked for players such as Nathan Green, Matt Jones, Jarrod Lyle, Steven Bowditch, Kevin Stadler, Brandt Snedeker, and more throughout the years.

Without further ado, let’s get into it the first edition of Caddie Corner.

Tursky: What’s your full name and who do you caddie for?

Wallis: Shannon Wallis, and I caddie for Jonas Blixt.

How did you end up being a caddie on the PGA Tour, and what’s been your career progression to get here?

So I have a best friend, Marcus Fraser, he played in Europe, and back in 2003 he got his card in Europe.

He was like, ‘Would you like to come and caddie?’

I said, “Sure!”

So I did that, and then, that lasted a year. And then I came over here in ’04 with Nathan Green and progressed from there. That was ’04, so how many years is that? Going on 18 years.

What’s been the most important lesson you’ve leaned along the way about caddying, or golf in general?

I don’t know if it’s a lesson, but they’ll make you hate golf (laughs).

Aside from actually carrying the bag, like the physical part of carrying the bag, what’s the most difficult part of your job that people might not know about.

The travel. Being away from the family. And then actually at the golf tournament, when the weather’s sh***y. You need to be like an octopus and have eight hands, or eight arms.

How many weeks will you be on the road for, at most?

At most, I mean, for me being on the east coast, the west coast. The last few years it’d be like five or six weeks away. It’s too hard to get back and forth.

Caddies are known for having the best stories. Without incriminating yourself too much, what’s the funniest story you have about caddie life either inside or outside the ropes?

Just, I worked for Nathan (Green) for 9 years, and it’s just the things that would come out of his mouth, I can’t really repeat. A lot of the golfers out here know Nathan, and he was very funny in putting in putting himself down.

Self-deprecation?

Yes.

What’s the biggest, “Uh oh, I messed up” moment of your career?

So, my first week with Nathan was in Richmond, Virginia. We shot 10-under for the first round, and the only bogey that came in the first round, it was me giving him a mystery, and he’s staring this shot down from like 100 yards – he’s staring it down – and I’m like, ‘You can stop posing,’ because it’s going 30 yards over the green. Yeah. Only bogey for the tournament. I think Chopra won at like 30-under, and we shot 26-under and finished second.

Well, he kept his confidence, the only bogey he made wasn’t his fault.

Correct.

When your player is a little bit nervous going into the first tee shot, or the last tee shot on the 72nd hole, what’s something you might say to calm them down?

So I don’t know if this is to calm them down, but it’s to keep their mind off it. You would say to them, ‘Just hit it on the green stuff.’ Lighten the mood a little bit. Especially the first tee shot. The 18th hole is a bit tricky, it’s a bit more focused. But the first tee shot is like, just get it on the green stuff.

That’s great. What’s your favorite tour stop to caddie at, whether it’s the course, the food, the giveaways, or whatever the case may be?

So being a heavy-set fellow myself, anything that’s flat. So, like Hilton Head. But Hilton Head is really a fun week. Hawaii is really good, nice and flat.

They have good weather in Hawaii, too.

Yeah.

What’s the best restaurant in terms of the tour stops, where you can’t wait to get to that event to get to that spot?

Charlotte’s always good, the Del Frisco’s in Charlotte. You always see a bit of Ric Flair in there. I always liked the Del Frisco’s in Fort Worth downtown.

You’re a big Del Frisco’s guy…

Oh yeah, big steak guy. But yeah, the Fort Worth one, for some reason, you always end up drunk at that one (laughs).

On a similar note, what’s your favorite on-course snack, whether it’s you or your player, like you have to have it in the bag?

Just a protein bar or something. Probably bananas. Something to stop from cramping up.

OK, last one. Based on working so closely with tour players throughout the years, what advice do you have for amateur players to improve their games? Other than ‘Hit it on the green stuff’?

Don’t be like a professional golfer. You know, you’re not going to be like ‘em. Yeah, just don’t be like a professional golfer. If you’re playing off a 27 (handicap), you’re shit at golf. Just play and have fun, have a few beers.

How’s your game, do you play much?

No, literally. They make you hate golf. I haven’t played golf in three years. But I was actually pretty good back in the day. I was plus-2. But yeah, I haven’t played in like three years. I still love it, but when you get out there, it’s like, ‘Why?’

Yeah, I prefer to play music, have a good time, maybe have a couple pops.

That’s the thing. It’s six beers, and away you go.

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Caddie Corner: 15 questions with Reynolds Robinson, a PGA Tour veteran caddie – GolfWRX

  2. Pingback: Caddie Corner: 20 questions with PGA Tour caddie Derell Aton (caddie for D.A. Points) – GolfWRX

  3. Pingback: Caddie Corner: 11 questions with PGA Tour veteran Gerald “G.W.” Cable (Kevin Chappell’s caddie) – GolfWRX

  4. Deacon Blues

    Jan 22, 2022 at 5:06 pm

    He is absolutely right about the Del Frisco’s here in Charlotte. I’ve only been there once, for an anniversary dinner with my wife; the steak (and the rest of the meal) was outstanding. And who did we see that night, holding court at the bar? Ric Flair. Wooooo!

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19th Hole

Pro makes bogey at PGA Championship due to a mischievous squirrel 

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As far as bad breaks go at the PGA Championship this week, Richard Bland can safely say he suffered the worst.

The Englishman may not have been threatening to make the cut at Southern Hills, but he certainly wasn’t helped by lady luck after an unruly squirrel caused him to make a bogey on Friday.

A fan-taken video of the incident was given some context from Bland on Twitter, who explained:

“You know it’s not going to be your week when you play a good recovery shot from under the trees & this little fella gets in the way. To top it off. The ball rolls back off the green and don’t get up & down.”

Check it out below.

Unfortunately for Bland, he was unable to replace the ball from the point the squirrel had stopped it as the ball had not come to rest. Per the USGA rules:

“If your ball is moved by an outside influence, such as an animal or a spectator, there is no penalty to anyone and the ball must be replaced. When your ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped, there is no penalty and you will normally play the ball from wherever it lies.”

Bland is heading home early after finishing the week at 10 over par.

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19th Hole

‘I didn’t recognize him at first’ – Mickelson’s mother says ‘relaxed’ Lefty has a surprising new look

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Phil Mickelson isn’t defending his PGA Championship this week at Southern Hills, something which his old foe Tiger Woods described as “disappointing” in his pre-tournament press conference.

The 51-year-old has stepped away from the sport after receiving heavy backlash for his links to LIV Golf, whose Saudi backers he described as “scary…to deal with” while advising that they were a way of leveraging with the PGA Tour and their “obnoxious greed.”

In a phone interview this week with USA TODAY Sports, Mickelson’s mother, Mary, gave an update on her son, who is sporting a new look giving him the chance to go out and about without receiving too much attention.

“I didn’t recognize him at first. He had a little bit of a beard and mustache. I don’t ever remember him doing that before. Not too many people recognize him, so it’s been fun to be able to go out with him.”

Mary revealed that Lefty is “happy and relaxed”, spending most of his time in his Rancho Santa Fe, Calif, estate, which he leaves to watch his nephew play Little League baseball and his niece play lacrosse.

“I wish you could see him now. He’s relaxed, he laughs all the time. He’s not on the phone with people that are calling him for this and that, and please play in this tournament, and it’s hard when you have to say no, when you don’t have the time to spend.

But he has taken a lot of time with our family…Tim and Tina, his brother and sister, have mentioned that too. How happy he seems. How relaxed and comfortable. And if it means going through all of this … I’m happy for him.”

As for golf? Mary Mickelson says they don’t discuss the sport but that golf fans will see “a different person if” Phil decides to make a return.

“We don’t talk about [golf] very much. I know when he comes to visit, we’re always in the backyard putting and chipping and just playing around. I guess he’s getting out there. I really don’t know for sure.”

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19th Hole

Korn Ferry Tour pro leaves clubs on airport carousel in incredible chase to make tee time

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It’s your job, so I guess you have to do it.

Most golf fans will be used to the tales of the struggles of the end of year Q-school and the plight of mini-tour players, even maybe the list of reserves for each tournament.

But the 18th alternate!?

Korn Ferry Tour player James Nicholas had something of an interesting journey on Wednesday, when late at night he received a call letting him know he was now the first alternate for the AdventHealth Championship starting less than 24 hours later.

When receiving the call, the Yale graduate was sitting in Westchester County, New York, some 1000 miles away from the tournament location in Kansas City, Missouri. Starting the event as a reserve was a possibility, but first he needed to get there on time.

In what was an almost impossible chase, Nicholas got the first flight he could but found his plane delayed by 90 minutes – this was becoming an  increasingly impossible journey.

“Why would I go when I know it will take a miracle for me to get in?” Nicholas shared on Instagram. “Because it’s my job, and I’ll do anything for just a chance.”

Miracles happen and from 18th alternate on May 13th to first on May 18th, at 9:52am on May 19th Nicholas was now informed he was in the tournament!

Having finally landed in the Midwest, the 25-year-old found he had no time to wait for his luggage at the baggage carousel and had to rush to the Blue Hills Country Club without clubs, shoes or glove!

Fortunately the head club pro lent Nicholas all the equipment he needed, allowing him to compete and finish the round in four-over par 76 – some way behind the leaders.

If fortune follows the brave, then he will make the cut later today.

If not, nobody can blame a trier!

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