Rickie Fowler's Right Hand ManIf you follow golf, and you've heard of Rickie Fowler, there's a good chance that you're familiar with Joe Skovron's work. Rickie Fowler's caddy since 2009, Joe also happens to be the son of PGCC Temecula's Country Club Management Instructor, Lou Skovron. Joe recently took some time out of his busy schedule to stop by the golf college and speak to our seniors about golf, and how he became a caddy for one of golf's youngest and fastest rising stars.
PGCC: Joe, there are different roads to becoming a professional caddy, what was your route?
Joe Skovron: My route was through competitive golf. I played competitively from 9 years old until I was 26. I played college golf at the University of La Verne, and played professionally for 3 years after I graduated. I got into caddying by accident.
It started when I would occasionally caddy for my mini tour roommate, Brendan Steele, at tournaments when I missed the cut. It turned into caddying part time for Brendan on the Nationwide Tour along with another friend of mine, Charlotte Mayorkas, who played the LPGA Tour.
Rickie [Fowler] asked me to work the Columbus Nationwide Tour event when he was still an amateur. That went well and it turned into my full time career when he turned pro that fall. ('09)
PGCC: You mentioned that the Ryder cup was probably the most exciting experience you've had to date. What was the highlight for you?
JS: The whole experience of the Ryder Cup was fantastic. From being in the locker room with the guys I looked up to as a kid, to the atmosphere surrounding the event, it was all pretty special.
I really think the way things unfolded in Rickie's singles match made the experience that much better. For him to come back from 4 down and halve that match to keep the US hopes of winning alive, that's pretty special stuff. I can’t really describe with words what those last few holes felt like. It’s something I will always remember.
PGCC: Replacing a caddy has been something of a hot topic recently. As a caddy you know that you can be replaced at any time, how do you deal with that kind of pressure and fragile job security?
JS: It’s definitely a reality in what we do. There is very little job security as a caddy. However, I don’t think you can caddy effectively if you are focused on that. I just go out every day and try to be the best caddy I can be for Rickie. I am always looking for little things I can do to improve, and make him as comfortable as possible over every shot.
While caddying doesn’t always have the best job security there are player-caddy relationships that have stood the test of time. My goal is for Rickie and me to have that kind of working and personal relationship that lasts for a long time.
PGCC: You have a line of really sharp golf apparel, Beyond The Links, how is that going? Do you have plans to expand?
JS: Actually, I recently sold Beyond The Links. It had gotten to a point where I couldn’t keep running the business while I was caddying. Beyond The Links was my passion at one time and I learned a lot of valuable lessons in my time spent building the company, but caddying has become my #1 priority and I want to keep it that way.
The new owner, Karl Schubert, is a friend of mine and a former college teammate. He is really excited about BTL and I wish him nothing but success with the brand. It would be very cool to see my vision become a reality at some point.
PGCC: You're caddying full time for a rising superstar, do you still make time to focus on your playing career?
JS: My playing career ended in October of 2007. In my three years as a pro I had some success on the mini/developmental tours, but not enough. My results were not where they needed to be to realistically pursue a career on the PGA Tour and I wasn’t making an adequate living off of playing golf. It wasn’t easy, but I hung up the clubs and haven’t looked back.
I have not played much golf the last couple of years but I was granted my amateur status again at the beginning of 2011. I plan on starting to play more golf in the future and maybe an amateur event here or there.
PGCC: As a former golf coach I'm sure you know a good deal about sports psychology. How does this influence your approach to caddying for Rickie?
JS: My background in golf, and sports in general, definitely benefits me as a caddy. I think it is very important to not only know the physical part of your player’s game but their mental habits as well. I think some guys get so caught up in numbers that they forget about the mental aspect of caddying.
These guys are on the PGA Tour for a reason. They were shooting low scores before they had a caddy. Sometimes it’s more important to say the right thing in between shots or make a joke at the right time then it is to give them 162 yards instead of 163.
In coaching and caddying, one thing I see as a constant is that the more your player enjoys playing the game the better the results will be.