Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story

Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story

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by John Feinstein

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Beyond golf's polished surface there lies a world not often seen by the average fan. The caddy sees everything - the ambition, the strategy, the rivalries, the jealousies - that occurs behind the scenes. Award-winning John Feinstein, America's favourite sportswriter, got one of golf's legendary caddies to reveal the secrets behind the most popular sport of our


Beyond golf's polished surface there lies a world not often seen by the average fan. The caddy sees everything - the ambition, the strategy, the rivalries, the jealousies - that occurs behind the scenes. Award-winning John Feinstein, America's favourite sportswriter, got one of golf's legendary caddies to reveal the secrets behind the most popular sport of our time. Bruce Edwards was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in January 2003, a progressive disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, but he dominated coverage of the 2003 US Open. This is a position not usually bestowed on a caddy, but Edwards was no ordinary caddy. In 1973, after forgoing college, Edwards walked on the course behind a young Tom Watson and never looked back. Watson would go on to win eight major titles with Bruce Edwards by his side. Edwards continued to do the job he had dedicated more than half his life to right up to his death in April 2004, aged 49. This is a moving, dramatic and thoughtful book about a life devoted to sports.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sportswriter Feinstein (Open; The Majors) delivers another solid look at the world of golf and its many interesting personalities, and this newest is his most intimate work so far. His subject is Bruce Edwards, who has been known within golf's tight-knit world as the caddy for over 40 years for legendary pro Tom Watson. Edwards's life story is a microcosm of the changes in modern professional golfing, and this book will thoroughly entertain golf fans. The personal edge in Feinstein's writing comes from the fact-acknowledged immediately in the book's introduction-that Edwards was diagnosed in 2003 with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, and that he found this out only 15 days after proposing to the longtime love of his life. Fortunately, Feinstein is skilled at looking at Edwards's professional and personal challenges without becoming mawkish and delivers a solid testament to a life well led. Feinstein nicely captures how Edwards, by caddying for Watson, "became the public face of those changes"-from Edwards's teenage years, working only at individual clubs for small change with a range of golfers competing for purses that were one-thirtieth of what they are now, to today, when a caddy can make an annual income well into six figures working for a successful player. The book, in effect, also offers a fine bio of Watson, as Feinstein recounts in energetic detail the many important tournaments that Watson won with Edwards's assistance. Agent, Esther Newberg. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Famed sports writer Feinstein celebrates famed caddy Bruce Edwards, now suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Little, Brown and Company
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Read an Excerpt


The Bruce Edwards Story
By John Feinstein

Little, Brown & Company

Copyright © 2004 John Feinstein and Bruce Edwards
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-77788-9

Chapter One

The Reunion

TO BE IN NEW ENGLAND on the first Saturday in September when the Red Sox are in a pennant race, when college football is beginning again and the first hints of fall are in the air, is to be about as close to heaven as one can come while still on earth.

On just such a day in 2003, on a morning when the sky was brilliantly blue and the temperature at sunrise was in the low 60s, a far-flung family gathered at 416 Brenda Lane in Franklin, a Boston suburb about twenty-five miles southwest of Kenmore Square and Fenway Park. Jay and Natalie Edwards had driven from their retirement home in Vero Beach, Florida, stopping in Annapolis on the way to spend a little extra time with their daughter Chris, her husband, John, and their two children. Chris, the oldest of the four Edwards children, is, like her husband, a retired Navy veteran. After Jay and Natalie continued their drive north, Chris and her family flew into Boston on Friday night.

Brian, the second son, and his wife, Laurie, had the longest trip, coming from their home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They had flown east on Wednesday and had spent time on Cape Cod riding bicycles and roller-blading. Rare was the day in their lives when they didn't bike or run or blade or look for something new and different-to attempt. Gwyn and Lenny were the only ones who didn't have to travel, because they were the hosts, which meant they had the most work to do. That was how they wanted it, though, especially Gwyn, the baby in the family. She had retired from a successful career in public relations to raise their three children, who now ranged in age from five and a half to two and a half. It was Gwyn who had first come up with the idea to get everyone together and Gwyn who had pushed everyone else to make sure it happened.

Technically this was not a reunion but a chance to celebrate the wedding of Jay and Natalie's son Bruce. Bruce, the second child and the first son, had married Marsha Cummins Moore on a beach in Hawaii in February, almost thirty years after they first met and five weeks after they had become engaged.

The engagement had caught the family a little off guard; they hadn't known there was someone serious in Bruce's life. The wedding had been a complete surprise, because it had all happened in less than a week. Hilary Watson, whose husband, Tom, had been Bruce's boss for almost his entire adult life, had suggested it to Marsha on a Monday and the ceremony had taken place six days later on the beach. Friends had commented that it was typical of Bruce to find a way to get married in his bare feet.

Tom Watson was Bruce's best man. In his toast to the bride and groom he had commented that this was a marriage that was beginning under very difficult circumstances. "The groom," he said, "is a lifelong Eagles fan. The bride is a devoted Cowboys fan. That's why it took so long for them to finally get together. Clearly, they are going to have a lot of work to do."

When the rest of the family heard about the wedding, they were taken by surprise, but they also understood. Everyone talked about getting together at some point at Bruce and Marsha's home in Florida to celebrate. But there was no specific date or plan. Late in March, as was almost always the case on weekends, Gwyn and Lenny had the TV tuned to that week's golf tournament. It was the Players Championship. Gwyn was walking through the living room when she heard NBC's Jimmy Roberts mention the name Bruce Edwards.

She stopped and sat down. A moment later her big brother was on the screen. She took a deep breath when she saw him and tried not to cry.

Bruce's voice was thick, his words difficult to understand, almost as if he'd been drinking. That wasn't a surprise, because she'd talked to him on the phone frequently in the weeks since the wedding and knew that was how he sounded now. "But I hadn't seen him," she said. "When I saw how thin he was, when I saw how different he looked in just a few weeks, that's when it really hit me. That was when I first thought to myself, 'We have to get everyone together - soon.'"

Months later, sitting on a couch in the living room with Lenny next to her, she still found it difficult to say exactly why the thought had crossed her mind that day. "I don't honestly remember if I thought it specifically," she said. "But obviously it was somewhere in my mind."

Somewhere in her mind was the thought that couldn't be avoided - not on that afternoon in March nor on that spectacular Saturday in September: If we don't get the family together soon, the next time might be at Bruce's funeral.

Three weeks before Bruce's wedding, at the age of forty-eight, an unsmiling doctor at the Mayo Clinic had said to him, "Do you know what ALS is? It's also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. In all likelihood, you have one to three years to live."

Just like that. No ifs or ands or buts. He had issued what was, essentially, a death sentence, almost as if he were a judge telling a criminal his decision based on the facts before him.

That had been on a cold, snowy January day in Minnesota. A lot had happened since then, much of it good, some of it extraordinary. Bruce had been to many different doctors and had been told many different things about how he could get better. But the disease was still progressing. Bruce knew it, Marsha knew it, the family knew it.

When Bruce and Marsha arrived at Gwyn and Lenny's house that Friday night in September, there was a plate of mussels, courtesy of Brian and Laurie, sitting on the table on the back patio that Lenny had managed to finish building in time for the weekend. "Try a couple," Brian advised his older brother. "They're delicious."

"Great," Bruce said with the wicked smile that was his trademark. "Can they cure ALS?"

Everyone laughed. It was a funny line, typical Bruce. And then everyone sat back and the cool evening was completely silent for a moment.

In all there were seventeen of them gathered at 416 Brenda Lane, the house that Gwyn and Lenny had moved into ten months earlier. In addition to Jay and Natalie Edwards, the patriarch and matriarch, and their four children and their spouses, there were seven children, ranging in age from fifteen-year-old Natalie, John and Chris's oldest, down to little Jay, Lenny and Gwyn's youngest. Gwyn and Lenny had rented a moon-bounce for the weekend, and it proved to be a masterstroke, keeping the kids busy with little squabbling. That left the adults time to sit on the patio, enjoy the spectacular weather, wonder if the Red Sox might finally be for real, and of course reminisce and remember.

"Thank God Bruce was always the kind of kid who stuck to his guns," Jay Edwards said on Friday evening, shortly before Bruce arrived.

"Those first few years, we kept waiting for him to say 'enough,' and come home and go to college. Who knows, if he hadn't ended up with Tom Watson maybe he would have come home, but I'm not sure. He loved the life out there. He made lots of friends, good friends, and he really found a niche doing what he was doing. He was right, we were wrong. I'm really proud of what he has become."

Bruce Edwards would have loved hearing his father say those words. For years, he was convinced that he would never hear them, because his father was incapable of believing them. One of the jokes among the Edwards children, even after Bruce turned forty, even after he had made himself an excellent living as a caddy on the PGA Tour for years and years, was that Mom and Dad were still waiting for him to grow up, go to college, and find a real job. It was almost like the old joke about the mother of the first Jewish president, who leans over to the person sitting next to her during the inaugural address and says, "You know, my other son's a doctor."

Their son had become the king of the caddies. He was the best in the world at a profession that had earned respectability in large part because of the work done by him and his contemporaries. They had changed the image of the tour caddy from irresponsible hanger-onto respected partner. And yet Jay and Natalie were still waiting for him to come home and become a doctor. Or a lawyer. Or a dentist.

In fact Bruce often told people that his parents' proudest moment watching him caddy had not come at the 1982 U.S. Open, when Watson beat Jack Nicklaus with what might have been golf's most famous shot, holing an impossible chip at the 17th hole - after which Watson pointed his finger at Bruce and said, "I told you I was gonna make it!" Their proudest moment came two years later, at the 1984 U.S. Open. Walking outside the ropes, the Edwardses were there when someone pointed at Tom Watson and said, "It's him."

"Not it's him," Bruce Edwards corrected. "It's he." Then he paused for a second, glanced at his parents, and said, "And I'll bet you never thought you'd hear that from a caddy."

There had never been anything very typical about Bruce as a caddy. His relationship with Watson had been built on many things, not the least of which was his willingness to disagree with his boss, even challenge him on occasion. Watson had enough self-confidence that he didn't mind being told he was wrong. The two of them argued often but almost never really fought. Bruce always gave most of the credit for that relationship to Watson. "He let me be wrong," he said. "I never said anything thinking that if I was wrong, I'd get fired or yelled at. Sometimes he listened to me, sometimes he didn't. But once he made his decision, he always took responsibility for the outcome."

"I'm not much of a whiner and Bruce isn't a whiner," is how Watson describes the way they worked together. "We just both go out there and do our jobs."

From 1973 until the middle of 1989, they had done their jobs together, appearing to most in golf to be a matched set. Sometimes when they walked the fairways side by side, it appeared they were connected by an invisible string. Their walking paces were identical - fast - and neither one ever seemed to get his head down or pout on days when things didn't go well. Watson almost never lost his bouncy step, even in the wake of some difficult defeats, and his caddy matched him every step of the way. They had separated for three years when Watson cut back on his playing schedule and encouraged Bruce to accept an offer from Greg Norman, then the number one player in the world.

But in '92 Bruce had returned, and they'd worked together ever since - more than twenty-five years as partners. "It really wasn't the same without him," Watson said years later, looking back at their three-year separation. "I missed his personality and I missed having someone there who knew me so well I didn't even have to think before I did anything."

Bruce came back in the fall of '92 and, in many ways, it was as if he had never been away. They fell back into their same old arguments: Watson's Royals vs. Edwards's Phillies; Watson's conservative politics vs. Edwards's far more moderate views; the annual bet on the NCAA basketball tournament. They really were the old couple that has been together for so long that they finish each other's sentences and know one another's thoughts.

When Watson turned fifty in 1999 and moved over to the Senior Tour, Bruce had plenty of chances to work for other top players on the more lucrative and far more enjoyable PGA Tour.

In truth Bruce, like Watson, would have loved to stay on the PGA Tour forever. The Senior Tour is a shadow of the "real" tour. Most of its tournaments are 54 holes with no cut, as opposed to the PGA Tour's 72 holes with a 36-hole cut. The crowds most weeks are little more than a handful and there is a heavy emphasis on pro-ams, because the tour is so dependent on corporate America to keep the dollars flowing. What's more, most of the golf courses are set up short and easy to create the illusion that the over-fifty set can still score the way they did when they were younger. Watson has never been a short and easy sort of golfer. He likes golf courses difficult and conditions tough. He is famous for playing his best golf in the worst possible conditions - one of the reasons he won the often weather-challenged British Open five times.

Watson was still good enough to win on the regular tour a few months before he turned forty-nine. He still craves going out and competing with the kids, but his post-fifty body won't let him practice and grind the way he did when he was younger. That makes it unrealistic for him to tee it up with the youngsters on a regular basis, and playing with the seniors week in and week out doesn't motivate him the way he was motivated when he was younger. "There's nothing wrong with the Senior Tour," Watson insists. "I like it fine. But I'm not able to practice and work like I did when I was younger, so it's different than it was back then. I have to approach it differently simply because it is different."

Bruce could have left Watson when he turned fifty for almost any player out there. He is that highly thought of by the men on tour. He would have made more money, and, again, Watson would have understood, because Watson is both a businessman and an older brother figure to Bruce. "When he told me about having the chance to go work for Greg, I told him, 'Go for it,'" Watson said. "It was like a father pushing a son out of the nest. There was too much money on the table potentially to pass it up."

Bruce remembers Watson being even more direct back then: "'You need to do this,' he said. 'I can't win for you anymore.'" That was at a low point of Watson's career, when the swing and putting stroke that had made him the world's best player had deserted him. If Bruce had left again in 1999 or 2000, not wanting to go the Senior Tour route, Watson would have understood again.

But there was absolutely no way Bruce was leaving Watson, whether Watson played the Senior Tour, a mini-tour in Florida, or decided to try to win all the state championships of the Midwest. He had left home once. He had no intention of leaving him again. "As long as Tom wants me, I'll never leave him," he said once. "He's a lot more than just my boss. He's my friend, he's my best adviser."

He smiled. "Of course I don't always listen to him, sort of like I didn't always listen to my dad. But I'm not leaving Tom Watson.

He'll have to fire me to get rid of me again." Of course Watson would never fire Bruce. Each had been the constant - except for that three-year window - in the other's adult life. Each had been married and divorced and remarried in the thirty years that they had known one another. Bruce had watched Watson's children grow up, and Watson, after joining Edwards's parents in pushing Bruce to go to college, had come to realize it wasn't going to happen. "He's a gypsy at heart," Watson liked to say.


Excerpted from CADDY FOR LIFE by John Feinstein Copyright © 2004 by John Feinstein and Bruce Edwards. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Donboy24 More than 1 year ago
Anytime a book, a movie or a piece of music moves you to tears, I consider that a successful work of art. This is a great example.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read close to a hundred Nook Books. However, this is my first review. This is simply a story about friendship and courage. Yes, the game of golf serves as a background. Even if you are not a fan of the sport, if you have a soul you will love the book. Read this, you won't regret it.
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dnelsoninslc More than 1 year ago
Most guys my age grew up with Arnold, Jack, Lee, and Tom. John Feinstein's story CADDY FOR LIFE gives you a perspective of Tom's Watson's career thru the eyes of a regular guy: Bruce Edwards. Besides being one of the first "professional caddies" Bruce Edwards has a charm, work ethic, and easy demeanor that makes him very likable which Feinstein does a good job of describing. This story does not get old as I have re-read it three times and also have it on tape so I can listen to it on trips. The story makes you laugh with Tom and Bruce and sometimes cry as they deal with Bruce's ALS which he deals with with maturity, class and humor. This story is well written and you won't be disappointed! There is not a time I see the Philadelphia Eagles on TV that I don't think of Bruce Edwards! Nice job Mr. Feinstein. Keep writing more golf stories!!!
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jimoc More than 1 year ago
I grew up watching Watson in his dominant days, and caddies weren't very well known then. But there was always this same guy on Tom's bag. And when I went to my first tournament in person, it was clear how close they were in how they interacted with each other and the gallery as they walked the course. Was shocked and a little sad when Bruce ended up on Greg Norman's bag, but this book gives us that story and how that eventually didn't go so well. This book is a great read, very inspirational and heartbreaking at the same time. It's not just for golfers, but true golf fans will eat it up. Tom & Bruce were clearly lucky to have each other in their lives.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been in the game of golf for a number of years now, but this book is readable to even the person who hasn't the slightest clue about golf. Great work by the author. I can't sing enough praises about the book, which eventually got me to shed a few tears
Guest More than 1 year ago
Summary:¿Caddy For Life¿ is a story about Bruce Edwards and Tom Watson. Tom is a professional golfer and Bruce Edwards is his caddy (or his assistant if you don¿t know what a caddy is). This wonderful biography starts out explaining the early life of Bruce Edwards and what life is like for a beginning caddy. It is a very in depth look at what it¿s like to be a professional golfer and a professional caddy. Bruce gets a great opportunity one day to work with a new up and coming golfer named Tom Watson. Tom likes the work that Bruce does and asks him to keep caddying for him. They begin to develop a great relationship, not just on the golf course, but off, too. Tom begins to become one of the top golfers on the tour. Bruce is still his caddy and is making good money because of all of Tom¿s wins. He builds a huge house and gets married. This is where his life begins to take a downward turn. Multiple things will happen that will are not good things. His house catches on fire and burns down, his wife files for a divorce, and while all this is happening he is told that he has cancer. For most people this would slow them down, but for Bruce it didn¿t. He had to change some of his daily activities. He also would skip some events so he could rest, even though he really didn¿t want to do this. Tom felt very bad and this story of Tom and his caddy became one of the greatest in golf ever. Learn what happens and learn the outcome of this great story made even better by John Feinstein. Critique:This is one of the best books that I have ever read, and the best book about golf that I have ever read. It is great to get such an in depth look at what it is like to be on the PGA tour. It is just great. John Feinstein is the best author for books about golf. He has written so many great ones and this is one of the best. This is such a great story I would suggest it to anyone no matter if they play golf or if they don¿t. There is some golf terminology that you might need to know, but you can pick it up if you don¿t know it yet. The book has a little excess information and I don¿t think it was necessary for that information but that doesn¿t even come close to all the good things in this book. IT IS A MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a true professional golf relationship/team story. John Feinstein is extremely lucky that Tom Watson and Bruce Edwards wanted to share their life history. Once again, Tom Watson demonstrates what a seemingly real person that he is to the game that has been so good to him and Bruce.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It describes how the caddy assists the Pro golfer. But most of all the important chemistry and bond that is forged. Tom Watson is a great human being, and now I know Bruce Edwards is too. He followed his dream, despite what his family thought. He lived a rich life, the way he wanted, and made many friends along the way. I respect him for this and am sadden for his family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
For anyone who has followed the PGA (& Senior Tour) since the mid 70's this is a great read. Telling how one person decided to chase his boyhood dream. Not only does he catch the dream but he held onto it for nearly 30 years. The book go on to detail the great friendship borderline kinship that this caddy and golfer shared. It further details Bruce's struggles in life most importanly his battle against ALS.