Caddie sets record with 50th Masters

Racking up memories

 

It was at the 2001 Masters Tournament that Carl Jackson did the math and set his goal.

Jackson knew that if he continued caddying in the tournament for 10 more years, he would work his 50th Masters in 2011.

And now it's here.

Jackson, 64, broke the record for number of appearances caddying in the Masters in 1995 when he caddied for the 35th time. He carried his first Masters bag in 1961 -- at age 14 when he was a full-time Augusta National Golf Club caddie.

Among golfers, only Gary Player, with 52 starts, and Arnold Palmer, with 50, have been in more Masters than Jackson. Both are retired from the Masters.

Jackson has been caddying for Ben Crenshaw the past 35 years, which includes Masters titles in 1984 and 1995.

Jackson will make No. 50 official when he and Crenshaw go off in this morning's fourth group of the first round at 8:18 alongside Brandt Snedeker and Kevin Na.

This has already been an emotional week for Jackson, starting Sunday when he arrived at the club.

"I'm just going down memory lane," he said that day. "I'm thinking about the old memories."

Crenshaw, anticipating the week, said: "I think there is going to be a great celebration, and a lot of well wishers for Carl. Carl is a very, very likable human being. He's very humble, but he'll be excited as well."

Crenshaw said he doesn't mind that his 40th Masters appearance is being overshadowed by Jackson's feat.

"Forget me -- it's him," Crenshaw said, pointing to his friend.

According to an Augusta National spokesman, the club has no plans to publicly recognize Jackson's feat, other than a piece about him on the club's Web site and an article in the 2011 Masters Journal .

That's fine with Jackson.

"They've got the Masters; they don't need to do anything," Jackson said. "It's not going to bother me. As the outside world has looked at me as an Augusta National caddie, I think I've represented them well. I believe I've carried myself with integrity and dignity."

Dan Snider, who is the chief operation officer at the Alotian Club in Roland, Ark., where Jackson is the caddie master, didn't expect Augusta National to single out Jackson.

"One of the great things about that tournament is they make it about the tournament," Snider said. "It's not about who's been there 50 years. It's not about the people, it's about the tournament and always has been. They would treat Carl like they would anybody else."

Jim "Bones" Mackay, who has been Phil Mickelson's caddie since 1992, begs to differ. He believes the caddie facility at Augusta National, which opened in 2009, should be named in Jackson's honor for what he calls his "incredible" feat of caddying in 50 Masters.

"Whether they recognize him or not, it's going to be recognized," said Augusta National member Warren Stephens, who owns the Alotian Club and hired Jackson to be the caddie master. "As knowledgeable as the Masters fans are, I suspect Carl will be getting applause when he and Ben are out there.

"You won't really know who it's for. There will be some element of applause for Carl."

Said Snider: "It's hard to say it (the applause) would be for one or the other. They've been a team so long. How do you separate it? It's for the two of them."

"I hope it's for him; he deserves it," Crenshaw said. "He's part of that place. He spent most of his life there.

"He regards the people who work there at that place as part of his family."

Jackson hopes to continue caddying in the Masters, but how much longer he'll go depends on Crenshaw, who is 59 and still plays a regular Champions Tour schedule.

"I'm just taking it year by year," Crenshaw said.

Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or david.westin@augustachronicle.

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