Six Burning Questions: Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay


After 25 years of pounding the fairways alongside Phil Mickelson, the world’s most recognisable caddie decided to hang up his bag and become an on-course commentator.

Here he tells our sister magazine Golf World about his new venture, about the perils of chewing gum, and why he fully expects his old boss to keep on winning well into his 50s.

Obvious opener, Bones: why have you made the move into the world of TV – and why now?

I was a total golf rat as a kid, and I would watch every event on TV from start to finish. When I became a caddie on the PGA Tour, I took an interest in everything around me and found the TV aspect really interesting. I loved watching those guys do their thing and was lucky enough to become friends with some of them. This led to me having a great experience working as an on-course commentator at the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic a couple of years ago.

Then, when Phil and I announced that we weren’t going to be working together anymore, I got a few calls. One of them was from NBC. That started the ball rolling and now all this has come together.

You began your new job at this year’s Open Championship. Did you feel comfortable right away or were there early nerves?

There were definitely some nerves early on. Fortunately, I’ve been in the business for a long time. Obviously, when I was working for Phil I didn’t have to hit any shots, but it was always important for me to stay as even-keeled as possible. I tried to borrow from all these experiences when I got going at The Open Championship and I was happy with how it went.

Which other commentators have influenced you?

I’ve loved listening to David Feherty over the years. He’s certainly one of my all-time favourites and an in uence. And I also love it when Iget to hear Steve Sands and Jimmy Roberts do player interviews. I’m a golf fan, just like everybody else, so I’ve always been interested in the way the post-round interviews ow and the huge amount of ground that can be covered in an economic number of words.

Do you think you’ll miss your old life as a caddie?

The great thing about my new role is that, although I won’t be in the middle of the golfing decisions that are going on, I will be out there with the guys and able to help them out by tossing the occasional divot back.

Plus, I’m still part of the golf family, so I’m still going to be able to go to dinner with the guys. I was a caddie for 27 years and it was really, really good to me, but I’m looking forward to this new challenge now.

After a quarter-of-a-century together, how do you think Phil will do without you on the bag?

I hope things go incredibly well for Phil, as my life is so much better for having worked for him. I think they will go well for him too. He is still, without question, one of the best players in the game, so I expect him to contend in events and win tournaments.

I’ve said for years that he is going to win on the PGA Tour well into his 50s, and I really believe this. His health has been good and his willtowinisashighasitwas when he was 22. If he won any week it would not surprise me, as that’s what he does for a living.

Finally, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned in your new job so far?

When I worked at the RSM Classic, the producers got on at me for chewing gum on air, and I’ve also been coming to grips with talking while someone is talking in your ear. To be honest, though, I think I have room for improvement in every area, so am going to be driving the guys I’m working with nuts with a lot of questions.

Did you know?

The origin of the name Bones: Fred Couples couldn’t remember skinny Jim Mackay’s name as a first-year caddie, so called “Bones” when trying to get his attention.

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