The Open Championship: Bones sure to have valuable insight

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 12: Phil Mickelson of the United States talks with his caddie Jim 'Bones' Mackay during the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship at the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2017 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 12: Phil Mickelson of the United States talks with his caddie Jim 'Bones' Mackay during the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship at the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2017 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The Open Championship is the perfect debut for Bones as he starts a new chapter.

The Open Championship is going to debut a new broadcast celebrity, Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay. It’s a shrewd hire for NBC and an exciting career move for Bones!

While everyone in golf was shocked when Phil Mickelson and Bones split, there was no animosity and likely never will never be any. They decided that 25 years was just long enough.  Maybe they picked that number at the outset and followed through when the time came.  We have to take them at their word.

Mackay, over the years, has become one of those first name “celebrities” in golf.  When somebody says Bones, you know who it is.  Just like you know Phil. The nickname was allegedly given to him by Fred Couples who forgot Mickelson’s caddy’s real name after they first met, and Couples came up with his own: Bones

No more looping for Bones

Instead of picking up a new bag right away, Bones is testing the waters in television.  He makes his television debut with NBC at The Open Championship.  When he goes live, knowledge of the game won’t be a problem. Neither will knowledge of courses. He has caddied for one of the top 10 winningest golfers in PGA TOUR history, and in his travels, he has walked every hole of every course that Mickelson played for 25 years.

Bones told Golf Channel on June 6th,

"I was just very intrigued by what this new job could potentially hold for me and my family and I was ready for new challenge."

Once the decision was made, Bones shot a text to Mickelson so he wouldn’t be surprised about the news.

"I know how well Phil’s playing and I didn’t want to be a distraction with what he has going on. It was important to me not to interfere with what he had going on today."

Always considerate.  That’s Bones.

What’s Bones’ perspective?

So what can we expect from him at The Open, his first telecast and NBC’s first crack at that major?

"Hopefully, I can shed a little light on the dynamic between the player in the caddie and what they may be discussing. There’s a lot going on out there. Obviously there are aggressive players and players that aren’t quite as aggressive, and I think it’s just a question of picking up on the little things I’ve noticed over the years and sharing them with the folks at home."

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Course knowledge will also be an area of expertise he can bring. Birkdale?  No problem. Bones was at Royal Birkdale with Mickelson in 1998, when Mark O’Meara won, and in 2008, when Padraig Harrington won.  He may have been there as caddie for Larry Mize in 1991 when Ian Baker-Finch was the champ. He probably has old caddie books from all those years with yardages and hazards all marked.

Bones can probably recall shots Mickelson hit from different places as well as what other golfers did at Birkdale.  He really knows what the wind is doing and whether it’s a two-club or ten-club breeze.  He will know where the gorse is located.  He has extra-special knowledge and knows what the players need to know before hitting a shot.

But his biggest skill set may be in knowing which way the putts break on the greens, based on years and years of experience.  When he says it breaks five feet, we need to believe him.

And after The Open . . .

One reason starting at The Open Championship – that major has special meaning for Bones.  Mickelson won it in 2013, a title most thought he would never win because of his high ball flight and the traditional windy locations at that tournament.

However, Bones says he’s looking forward to having an opportunity to be with NBC for other events.

"I’ll tell you, covering a Ryder Cup will be certainly very high on that list. I just think that’s such an amazing event for so many different reasons."

Most serious golf fans know that Bones is a good amateur.  He played on the Columbus State University golf team in college. Being in Columbus, Georgia was how he met Larry Mize, who was his first bag. After Mickelson turned pro, Bones was interviewed for the job and accepted immediately.  The rest has been a great part of golf history.

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It will be interesting to hear what name television announcers decide to use at the British Open where the big debut takes place.  Will it be “Now to Jim at the 15th. . .” or “ Now to Bones at the 15th . . .

Ask yourself, would you refer to Babe Ruth as George?  Would you call Tiger Woods Eldrick?  Would you call Bubba Watson Gerry? No, no and no. Babe was Babe, Tiger is Tiger, Bubba is Bubba, and so hopefully Bones will be Bones. Otherwise, it will take us three tournaments to figure out who it is because the man is Bones to everybody, except probably his family.

Regardless, The Open Championship debut of Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay will definitely be a must-watch event. Bones agrees.

"I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. The bottom line is I love to watch golf played at a very high level, and I’ve done that for years as a caddie, and now I’m ready to take a look at it from a slightly different viewpoint and to share with everybody what I’m seeing out there."

Next: The 2017 Open Championship field