“Show up. Keep up. Shut up.”
That infamous phrase by Dave Musgrove, caddie to golfers Seve Ballesteros and Sandy Lyle, has been repeated for years as the defining characteristic of the relationship between a pro golfer and his caddie.
But for most golfers, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
Such is the case for Jacksonville local, John Limanti, who caddies for PGA TOUR golfer, Chris Stroud.
“Chris and I are best friends both on and off the course. We have great chemistry, a lot in common, an incredible open line of communication, we’re both extremely loyal people, and we trust each other. Nothing really changes whether we are in competition or not,” said Limanti, who started caddying in 2004 at the age of 23.
After a few attempts at caddying for friends, Limanti and Stroud teamed up in 2009 and haven’t looked back since.
For Limanti, his work starts well before arriving at the golf course. Studying the layout of the course (and potential redesigns from years past) and weather patterns are essential in performing his duties.
“The conditions can change from year to year because the year-round weather can affect the grass,” said Limanti. “So it’s important to know if the course is playing slow or fast; meaning, is the ball running a long distance when it lands or is it hitting and stopping? Depending on the tee times throughout the tournament, I will go walk the golf course (from outside the ropes) and see how the ball is reacting for the players that are on the course so that I know exactly how the conditions are going to be for us and we can make a plan starting on the first shot.”
Limanti, a one-time aspiring pro golfer himself, firmly believes his experience as a golfer has helped him guide Stroud when things get a little tough. But Limanti isn’t the only one out on the course doing the helping.
During the 2013 Travelers Championship, tournament leader Bubba Watson played badly the final three holes of the tournament and he started publically taking his frustrations out on his caddie, Ted Scott. The pair playing with him just happened to be Stroud and Limanti and they knew this was out of character for Watson.
“Chris just looked at Bubba and said, ‘Come on, Bubba, let’s go’ as words of encouragement. Bubba kind of looked at Chris confused, because we’re supposed to be in competition with each other out there. Bubba ended up losing by two strokes, but that situation proves how good of a guy Chris is. He wants the best for everyone out on the course,” said Limanti of the unique exchange he witnessed.
Heading into THE PLAYERS, Limanti hopes everything they’ve been working on over the past few years will come into play, allowing Stroud to get the first win of his career.
“Chris has been playing well, THE PLAYERS is just another tournament, and TPC Sawgrass really sets up to his eye,” said Limanti. “The one thing I know we will be working on will be the right-to-left shot off the tee box. At TPC you have to hit some draws (right to left for a right-handed golfer) because of the tall tree-lined fairways, yet he primarily plays a fade with his driver (a left to right shot). The tournament at Quail Hollow the week prior has a similar feel, so that will help us prepare. Our strategy will be pretty simple: hit the fairways, hit the greens, and make a lot of putts.”
Stephen Potter, author “Golfmanship,” said back in 1948, “Make friends with your caddie and the game will make friends with you.” From the outside looking in, the relationship between Stroud and Limanti seems to mirror that of a marriage in which communication, passion, and understanding is key, but both also share a very positive look on their lives.
“We are both very blessed to be out there doing what we love for a career,” said Limanti. “Golf is not easy, but it’s our passion and as long as we are smiling and having fun out there, our purpose will be shown to the fans. l believe in him and he believes in me, and that’s what makes a dynamic team.”
Be sure to watch both Chris Stroud and John Limanti out at THE PLAYERS and at future PGA TOUR events this season.