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Caddie Corner: 18 interesting questions with Shay Knight (Viktor Hovland’s caddie)

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Welcome to the “Caddie Corner,” a new running feature where 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, stay tuned to our weekly feature called the “Caddie Corner.”

In this week’s edition, we talk to PGA Tour veteran caddie Shay Knight, who currently caddies for the young superstar Viktor Hovland. Enjoy!

First question is easy. What’s your name, who do you caddie for, and who else have you caddied for throughout the years?

My name is Shay Knight. At the moment I caddie for Viktor Hovland. I started out with Matt Jones, Martin Laird, Chez Reavie, Sean O’Hair, D.J. Trahan, Jerry Kelly, and that’s about it.

All around the block. How many years is that now?

15 years. Yeah, I was with Matt for 5 years, Martin Laird for just under 2 years, Sean O’Hair for 5, and then obviously Viktor for the last couple years. Yeah with Chez and the other guys I was just around when someone needed me.

How did you end up first being a caddie on the PGA Tour, and what was your career progression before getting out here?

I was a member of the same golf course back in Australia, the Australian Golf Club, with Matt Jones. We played a bunch of golf together, did a bunch of traveling together. Through Australia, we played a lot of amateur events. He went over to ASU (Arizona State University) to pursue his college, and I stayed back in Australia, did what I did, and then he got on the Nationwide Tour. He was on the Nationwide for 3 or 4 years, and he was struggling to… I don’t really know what he was struggling with because he’s such an unbelievable talent, but yeah, he asked if I wanted to come over and just help him out and that next year he got his PGA Tour card and the rest is history. It’s crazy.

If you didn’t caddie, what job do you think you would be doing right now?

I love being outside. I did a landscape gardening course back in Australia, which I loved. I loved the design aspect as well, so I think if I wasn’t caddying I’d probably get back into that.

What’s the best restaurant you go to throughout a PGA Tour season where you can’t wait to get to that event so you can go eat there?

I love Indian food. There’s a place in Connecticut, I can’t remember what it’s called. I know exactly where it is, but I can’t remember what it’s called. We go there every single time we go back to Hartford and always stuff our faces there. It’s unbelievable Indian food. It’s awesome.

What’s your go-to snack on the course? What do you always keep in the bag?

For me or for Viktor?

Both…

He always has protein bars. I’ve got so much food in there for him it’s ridiculous. Whether it’s protein bars, jerky, nuts, I usually have a sandwich in there, usually have protein shakes. For me personally I usually have a banana or something at the turn, may have some bars in my pocket that I’ll munch on, but that’s about it.

What’s your favorite sport aside from golf, and who are some of your favorite teams or players?

That’s a good question because when I was growing up, I loved rugby league back in Australia. I’ve been over here for 15 years now and it’s been difficult keeping up with that. The NFL, I love the NFL. I’m a Packers fan, and I love Aaron Rodgers. I love the way he plays the game. Matt and I played the Pro-Am with him at Pebble Beach back in the day. He was such a nice guy. I’ve been a fan of him ever since.

What’s on your music playlist right now?

Wow. Um. I love the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They’re probably my favorite on Pandora. Obviously it goes through a bunch of different genres. U2, I love country music, as well. It’s pretty broad.

What’s been the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way about caddying, or just life on the road in general?

With regard to caddying itself, you really have to feel your player. You really have to know when to say something, and when to shut your mouth. I think that’s very important. A lot of caddies sometimes talk too much when they don’t need to. I think that’s very important, reading the player.

In terms of being out on the road, there’s so many life lessons that I learned when I was younger. Just looking after yourself, more importantly, from a physical standpoint. Eating the right foods, getting sleep. I love a drink, but in terms of having too many in a night, especially during a tournament, it doesn’t really happen. Just look after your body and get the rest when you can.

Do you have a favorite bar?

I very rarely go to the bar now. I’m married. I have two kids. I’m past that now.

If you think there is one, what’s your take on the slow play issue on Tour?

I think it’s so difficult to do that because of the way the courses are setup. No disrespect to the rules officials, because they’re trying to make it the toughest they can for the PGA Tour players, but it’s getting longer, you’re walking back to tees more, there’s so much that goes into a round of golf whereas guys that are amateurs that are playing in golf carts, they get in the golf cart and go to the ball. The tee is right there. Nowadays you’re having to walk back to tees, the greens are firm and fast, you gotta take your time to hit shots into greens, work out where to miss it and not to miss it. It’s a really difficult conversation, because I don’t think there is an answer. I really don’t.

Caddies are known for having the best stories. Without incriminating yourself, what’s the funniest story you have about caddie life?

I wouldn’t say it’s a funny story, but it’s probably the best moment of my caddying career. It was when I had a game of golf with Tiger Woods. We were at Isleworth. Shane Joel, who used to caddie for Mark O’Meara, he lived in Orlando and he would always go to Isleworth just to work with O’Meara and Tiger was always there. He lived just on the other side of the driving range and Shane invited me to go to Isleworth and just hang out there for the day. We’re going to play some golf with O’Meara and John Cook, and Tiger was on the range. We got introduced to him, and he was just an unbelievably nice guy. We went over to the chipping green and we hit some chip shots and he was telling me a bunch of stuff.

I said, “Are you playing golf today?”

Tiger said, “Oh, we’ll see.”

So we get in the golf cart and we start going to the first tee, and Tiger goes into his house. Then, two seconds later, he comes back out and starts following us.

I said to Shane: “Is this really going to happen?”

He goes, “Yes, it is.”

I’ve never been more nervous in my life, but it was the best day of my life. We played 9 holes with him, then went into Isleworth where they have this half court basketball court. He put his hat on backwards and starts shooting hoops and starts telling me Michael Jordan stories. It was an unbelievable day. It was cool.

Basketball and golf with Tiger in one day??

Yea, it was cool. It really was. It was an incredible moment.

OK, well that’s awesome…What’s your biggest “Uh oh” moment of your caddying career?

I remember caddying for Sean O’Hair. He lost his card, and we’re at the Scarlet course. He missed the first two playoff events. He had to really play well in the last event to get his card. We’re coming third or fourth with, I think it was on 13, the par 3 down the hill and they put the tee up. He birdied the par 5 hole before, and I didn’t realize they put the tee up. So I give him the numbers, and he hits a shot and it goes straight over the green. I look back and I see the tee behind me, I’m like, “Oh no.”

I felt so bad, and to his credit, he was an unbelievable guy. He still is. He’s a really good friend of mine. He tapped me on the butt, and he said, “Shay, I got you.”

He gets up-and-down, and ended up coming in like third or fourth and he got his PGA Tour card back. That was an unbelievable moment, but I felt so bad.

He saved you with the up-and-down there…

He did. Big time.

If your player is a bit nervous going into the first tee shot, what’s something you might say to calm him down?

It’s not a matter of saying anything, it’s a matter of trying to get him off the thought process of hitting the shot. Whether you talk about the night before, or you talk about, obviously depending who you’re talking to, but talking about girls, or going out the night before, anything but the actual golf shot itself. Just something to get their mind of it, for sure.

What’s your favorite Tour stop to caddie at, whether it’s the course, or the perks, or the location?

Augusta National, by far. I love that golf course. When I was young, I used to always wake up every single morning and watch the back nine at Augusta. It was such a surreal moment being there for the first time. I’ve been there 3 times now, coming up on the 4th. It’s an unbelievably stressful week because you have to do everything perfectly, but it’s such a great week because it’s the Holy Grail of golf. It’s a great spot to be.

Based on working so closely with Tour players throughout the years, what advice do you have for amateur golfers trying to improve their games?

That’s a really good question. It’s so difficult because there’s so many players out there who are trying to make a name for themselves and have this opportunity in life to play on the PGA Tour. You have to work your butt off, both on the course and off the course. Just be patient with it. There’s so many times I see so many golfers, they push the buttons in terms of trying to hit the perfect shot every single time. Golf’s not a game of perfect. These players, they hit bad shots, but the thing they do really well is they get out of that situation very quickly, and they put themselves in the right position to get back to score. Whether they’ve made a bogey, or whether they’ve made a few, they don’t panic. They just go out and continue doing what they’re doing, and continue playing golf and staying patient.

Last question: What advice do you have for someone who wants to caddie on the PGA Tour?

It’s funny because on Instagram I get so many people asking me that question. Out here it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That’s the unfortunate part. That’s what I say to everybody; it’s unfortunate that there’s not a caddie golf school you can go to where you start on the Korn Ferry Tour and work your way up to the PGA Tour. It doesn’t work like that unfortunately. It’s like a fraternity out here. It’s extremely difficult.

If I was going to say how to do it, I’d probably say have a bank load of cash in your back pocket, go on the Korn Ferry, and just sit in the parking lot and try to get a bag. You’ve got to be really lucky. I got extremely lucky to get to where I am now. I’m very fortunate and very blessed – I say that to myself all the time –to be in the position I am now. It’s unbelievable. It’s not anything that I did myself, it’s just the person I knew at the time, and I worked my way up. He got his PGA Tour card, and I was on the back of him.

Thanks for the time, Shay. Good luck this week.

Interested in more “Caddie Corner” interviews? Check them all out here!

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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.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Chuck

    Mar 25, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    A great moment in this interview that I want to single out.

    Talking about slow play: “…but it’s getting longer, you’re walking back to tees more…”

    This is such an important observation. To keep up with out-of-control golf balls and equipment, older courses need to shove tees backwards as much as the real estate can allow. Making it sometimes a 100-, 150-yard walk “backwards” from the last green, to the next tee. Slowing down play. People watching on tv might not see it. Players don’t necessarily stand over shots for longer periods of time. But the time to play rounds is significantly lengthened, for the elites who need those course architecture enhancements.

    Another feature in the golf ball distance debates.

  2. Pingback: TOUR REPORT: Adam Scott’s latest club switch, and a 5-wood from 12 years ago – GolfWRX

  3. TommyV

    Mar 24, 2022 at 3:23 pm

    Great interview. Always good to hear caddie insights.

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19th Hole

‘You’re f***ing hilarious, aren’t you?’ – Shane Lowry snaps at spectator during WGC Match Play

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It’s been a struggle for Shane Lowry throughout his career at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play. Since 2019, the Irishman is now 3-6 at the event prior to the 2023 version of the event.

The struggles continued on Wednesday for Lowry as he found himself two down to Taylor Montgomery on the 17th hole when a fan said something to him after his tee shot.

The frustration finally showed through and Lowry snapped back at the fan.

“You’re f***ing hilarious ,aren’t you?”

Laura Davies on Sky Sports reacted immediately, saying “Apologies for the language.”

Lowry will give it another crack tomorrow as he faces off against Mackenzie Hughes on Thursday at 11:59 A.M. EDT.

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19th Hole

Ex-Golf Channel host Holly Sonders returns to sports in new NSFW venture

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Holly Sanders, who was a host on Golf Channel working on “School of Golf” and “Playing Lesson with the Pros,” before going to Fox Sports until 2019.

According to her post on Twitter, the 34-year-old is about to be back in the world of sports in the form of a topless sports league.

Sonders also made an Instagram post about her new venture, saying she was still looking to “add talent” to the league.

 

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A post shared by Holly Sonders (@holly.sonders)

“I will be watching over all operations making sure the content is of the highest quality possible, and that the girls are safe, having fun and enjoying themselves. This league is owned by women and will be run by women. Feminists should praise this as it’s creating opportunities for women.”

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19th Hole

Nelly Korda responds to fans following ‘wardrobe malfunction’ in latest video

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LPGA Tour superstar Nelly Korda recently signed a deal with both TaylorMade and Nike. In a promotional Instagram video for TaylorMade, Korda was hitting the Stealth 2 driver.

The post read: #Fargiveness with a view. ? #TeamTaylorMade is gearing up for a big week in Arizona and striping their #Stealth2Drivers around Superstition Mountain.”

 

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A post shared by TaylorMade Golf (@taylormadegolf)

However, the post didn’t go as planned, with some users comparing Korda to Rickie Fowler because of her wardrobe choice, while one user simply said: “Orange pants with red shoes? Bruh for real?”

Korda responded on Instagram shortly after, saying “Don’t hate me for my Orange pants and red shoes,” she wrote. “It was a bit of a wardrobe malfunction.”

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