Faldo and O'Donoghue: Golf's latest double act
Caddying for an all-time great
01:28 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: Shane O’Donoghue is host of CNN’s Living Golf.

Story highlights

Shane O'Donoghue caddies for Nick Faldo

Faldo won six majors, the last in 1996

CNN  — 

In the summer of 1987, I was a teenage golfer in love with the sport. I had no desire to be a great golfer, but I was besotted with the whole sport; the players, the history, the records and the magic.

The players themselves were a particular fascination, and the great writing that shone a light on how these amazing men and women dared to dream big, and win on the biggest stages.

That summer stood out, with the incredible achievements of two English golfers; Laura Davies’ win in the US Women’s Open and then the colossal achievement of Nick Faldo, in reeling off 18 consecutive pars, in the mists of Scotland’s Muirfield, to win the biggest title of all: the Open Championship.

It was comic book stuff. I’d attended my first Irish Open a few weeks prior, and was transfixed by the golf of Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam and Faldo. These guys were giants. Faldo’s story, however, held a particular allure.

READ: ‘Woods made winning look easy… It’s not,’ says Spieth

He had come back into the limelight that year with a victory in the Spanish Open. All the talk was about how he had completely re-modeled his swing, taking almost two years to perfect a movement that could withstand intense sporting pressure.

Faldo had been mocked for his efforts. Fellow pros and various commentators thought it ludicrous that he could give up what was considered a beautiful swing.

READ: How Jordan Spieth clinched the Claret Jug

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  The famous yellow 18th green pin flag of The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, the host course for the 2017 Open Championship during a Media day for the 146th Open Championship on April 24, 2017 in Southport, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Golf's past & present: Fitzpatrick, Jutanugarn
22:04 - Source: CNN

A golfing great

Majors followed, and an almost God-given ability to get the job done. He hit the absolute correct shot at the vital moment and holed vital putts when he really needed to. He also looked incredibly cool doing it, and a new brand was born. Faldo was the man.

He may not have had the charismatic flair of Seve, or the natural gifts of Lyle, but he was respected by all for his golfing prowess and relentless work ethic.

READ: What’s it like managing the “John Wayne of golf”

So there I was, chatting with him and his partner LeslieAnne in Florida last May, while filming Living Golf at the Platers Championship, when I asked if I could caddy for him some time and we’d film it for the show.

So I found myself, in Royal Porthcawl in late July, caddying for one of the world’s greatest players in the Pro Am for the Senior Open Championship.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Faldo over the last 10 years. I’ve been lucky enough to visit and interview him at his home in Florida and root around his collection of golf clubs.

On his landing, he has all six bags from his major victories, containing all six sets of clubs used. It’s a treat for anyone who loves golf.

However, nothing will surpass the wonderful few hours in Wales, walking inside the ropes with the man himself, just a week past his 60th birthday, but looking and playing like someone much younger.

Faldo and O'Donoghue: Golf's latest double act

Still going strong

You really get the sense that he loves the game, and it’s that love of the sport and the thrill of competing that has brought him back to competition this year.

In the latter half of this season, he’s taken part in the PGA Tour Champions.

He still strikes the ball beautifully, and still packs a punch off the tee.

What was most impressive was the crispness of the strike, almost relentlessly off the sweet spot. Like a lot of old pros, the putting is not what it once was, but he still holes more than his fair share.

As you’d expect, his attention to detail was impressive, continually making notes as we went around, drawing arrows on his yardage chart, mapping greens and slopes and writing little reminders in preparation for the championship.

The bag weighed about 40 pounds, but it didn’t matter. This was priceless time with an expert as he deciphered a golf course and plotted his strategy.

Visit cnn.com/golf for more news and videos

It was a privilege to walk side-by-side with someone who inspired me and many others. I bought those Pringle sweaters, the books and videos and dreamed the impossible dream. For a precious few hours in Porthcawl, that dream came true.