Steve Williams’ account of life on tour in Out Of The Rough (2015), is a fascinating look inside the experiences of the world’s most successful caddie. Williams covers his career starting as a youth who got a very early start in the game, and was encouraged by his father to get involved at the expense of finishing school (which he never did). Throughout the book he returns to this theme and wishes that he’d completed his education, but is thankful that his Dad looked the other way.
Williams’ list of high profile bosses is impressive. He was on the bag for 150 wins world wide and carried for the likes of Greg Norman (who he classifies as the toughest player he ever worked for), Ray Floyd, Ian Baker-Finch, Tiger Woods, and Adam Scott. Williams provides many inside the ropes anecdotes, as well as passages from the aforementioned players that detail his contributions to their careers.
Most golf fans got their introduction to Williams as Tiger Woods’ caddie during the 13 years of Tiger’s pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ majors record. What we learned is that Williams took on and ultimately mirrored Tiger’s psychic mentality and single mindedness during the chase, and he gives the reader the impression that he almost felt dual ownership of the successes and failures with Tiger, even though Woods was ultimately the one hitting the shots. Williams is a perfectionist and readily admits that some of the boorish behavior TV fans have become familiar with was born out of this single-mindedness attitude but also due to his natural personality. Williams has always been very business like on the course and protective of his players which has gotten him into trouble. Like the time he took a camera off a spectator at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and threw it in a lake. Tiger appreciated Williams’ support and picked up the cost of his fine.
Williams notes that he maintains an active friendship with all his ex-bosses except for one; Tiger. After their falling out at the AT&T National in 2011 the two have rarely spoken and Williams holds a lot of bitterness towards Tiger that he can’t let go of.
Williams details a few regrets. There’s some poor advice he gave to Norman and Ray Floyd that may have cost them major titles, as well as the interview he gave after the 2011 WGC Bridgestone, after Tiger had sacked him and Adam Scott won with Williams on the bag. The book also has several excellent passages between Williams and his ex-bosses, like the time Greg Norman confided in him during an all night beer drinking therapy session on the beach after blowing the 1996 Masters to Nick Faldo. The details around the extraordinary effort by Tiger to win the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg were fascinating.
Williams ultimately obtained celebrity status and in the book he sometimes makes this more about himself than the professionals he worked for, but at the end of the day, most of his good fortune was due to being on the bag of Tiger.
Check this book out. It’s fresh, it’s current, and there’s good content for golf fans at every level.