Paul can you give us a bit of your golfing background, how were you introduced to the sport?
I was introduced to this great sport as a 5 year old. My father and grandfather were both scratch golfers and club champions at Ponce DeLeon Golf Club in St. Augustine, FL. It was a great Donald Ross design and I’d follow my dad out there every Sunday. By the time I was 7, I’d play the men’s tees and by 12 was a scratch golfer. I was finally able to win the club championship to complete the family sweep. It’s a memory I’ll forever remember even though the golf course doesn’t exist anymore.
Can you talk us through the process of how you become a caddie for someone, was it a role that you were looking for?
I had a successful career in college with a team national championship at the University of Florida and was a three time all-American. I was fortunate enough to gain my PGA Tour card in my 1st attempt at Q-school in 1996. Unfortunately, my body and game failed me. By the end of 1999, my playing career was over. I got a job as the head teaching professional at an exclusive club in Florida. In August, 2000 Vijay Singh (who was a friend through a lot of practice sessions at TPC Sawgrass) called and asked me to caddie for him for one week. We played well and I made some swing suggestions to him. Two weeks later he hired me and my new career was born.
Tell us how you came to know God for yourself.
I grew up in a Christian household. We went to church every Sunday. I grew far away from Jesus during college. Golf, girls and parties seem to take precedent over my relationship with Jesus. By 2010, I was 6 years divorced with an amazing daughter. I was struggling with my identity and finding deep relationships. I finally submitted my life to the Lordship of Jesus in the summer of 2010. I was baptized and starting reading the Bible daily and praying dozens of times per day. In the next six months, God trimmed away everything I held dear. I was fired for the 1st time in my career despite being top 30 in the world (O’Hair). The Real estate crisis hit the US and I lost every dime I had ever made. I lost a long term relationship with the woman who I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. Basically, I was jobless, homeless and alone. However, I felt something I had never felt before, peace. I was so happy and at peace. I had lost everything that mattered worldly yet somehow (I now know it was Jesus) I was happy and at peace.
So as caddie to Webb Simpson, what’s the best thing for you about being on the PGA Tour?
Webb is regarded (deservedly so) as the nicest guy on the PGA Tour. Many players choose Webb as the guy they’d most like to be paired with. Webb and his wife Dowd are only 30 and have 4 kids. The amazing thing is how wise they are. They let Scripture dictate every aspect of their life. He has taught me so much about how to live your life for Jesus in such a competitive world of golf.
How has knowing God impacted on your golf career?
I couldn’t do what I do without my faith and relationship with Jesus. There are so many disappointments in this job. A successful year is one that you win one out of 25 tournaments. That means we fail 95% of the time…on a successful year. We work so hard daily to achieve great things and it’s hard to stay the course when the results aren’t there. I don’t know how others do it without God.
Who would you say is the best golfer in the world at the moment?
I’ve told many people for the last 4 years that I thought Jason Day was the most talented player in the world. Having been out with Tiger over 100 times in his prime, I saw the most complete player in the history of golf. Day has that same talent. He has zero weaknesses. Rory has always struggled putting as has Bubba & DJ too. Jason is the best chipper and putter in the world and he’s a phenomenal ball striker.
With Webb being a Christian too, do you ever pray together or share time with the Lord?
Webb and I pray together most every day. Besides prayer, we are constantly talking about what the other is reading and learning. We talk about how our wives are growing and how fatherhood is going. Jesus is the central part of lives and our conversations seem to generally focus on how we are living out our faith.
What is your favourite golf course to compete at?
Everybody says Augusta and I agree. Outside of Augusta, Id put TPC Sawgrass and Muirfield Village in my top five for sure. Olympic Club where we won the 2012 US Open is number one for obvious reasons.
Do you connect with any other Christian golfers from around the Tour?
We do. We have a weekly bible study that is led by a wonderful group of men from College Golf Fellowship. Webb and I both financially support them and all the people they reach. Beside that, we try and have dinners or lunches as much as possible to stay connected with the other men.
Does the travel that comes with international golf make it difficult to stay plugged into Church? Do you have ways to get around it?
Yes, traveling makes life very choppy when it comes to our home church. Webb does a much better job than I do. We go to a great Acts 22 church in Jacksonville Florida called Eleven22. They have podcasts available online complete with study notes. I truly feel like that’s the hardest part of the road. Staying connected at church and missing the family daily.
Who has been the biggest influencer on your life in terms of your golf?
Three men have shaped who I have become and what I’ve accomplished in golf. The first two are my Granddad and Dad. We all shared the same name and they didn’t want me tainting the family name. They taught me everything about the game from mechanics to more importantly, etiquette and demeanor. The third is Vijay Singh. He gave me an opportunity to do something I never desired to do or thought I had a talent to do. Vijay taught me everything about the job of a caddie. From course management to mental toughness to practice routines to the golf swing. I’ve been Webb’s main coach for 6 years and everything I help him with has Vijay’s blueprints on it.
Do you have a particular bible verse that encourages you?
Yes and Yes. I focus several times per day on Proverbs 3:5-8. I have it memorized in ESV and need the reminder constantly of how small I am and how big God is.