SOUTHPORT, England — It’s a trait you’ll see in many successful TV personalities—or at least the more colorful ones: an ability to come up with some sort of witty repartee at a moment’s notice, something that brings levity or context to a situation, preferably both. Just prior to hitting the record button for this week’s Golf Digest Podcast with Jim (Bones) Mackay, I asked him the icebreaker question of how things were going so far. Without hesitation, the 51-year-old caddie-turned-commentator responded: “Everything is going well. I just have to resist the urge when I’m walking around the course of replace any divots.”
Such cleverness is why Tommy Roy, NBC/Golf Channel’s lead producer, tapped Mackay to join the broadcast crew as an on-course reporter shortly after Mackay’s announcement that he and Phil Mickelson were ending their 25-year caddie-player partnership. Mackay had done solid work in 2015 when Roy tried him and fellow caddie John Wood out at the PGA Tour stop at Sea Island. Having experienced every kind of situation a player could face in his time with Phil on tour, Mackay could relate to those experiences and showed an ability to quickly translate them to viewers in relatable terms.
“I’m trying to look at the golf course completely differently," Mackay said. “For 25 years I worked for a player that played one particular way, and he had a lot of success doing it. But now I have to look at things completely differently. I’ve got a lot to wrap my head around."
Mackay displayed nervous energy during the podcast, joking about the reception he’s gotten from his former fellow caddies—“They’ve really given me a hard time about wearing long pants.”—how he had yet to run into Mickelson at Birkdale and what he’ll miss most about being a caddie. He also noted that come Thursday he'll likely to feel more nervous than he can remember ever feeling when he worked for Mickelson.
Have a listen: