Steve Williams: Out of the Rough by Steve Williams. Penguin. 288 pages. 2015
This book is the second by Williams following his 2005 book Golf at the Top with Steve Williams: Tips and Techniques from the Caddy to Raymond Floyd, Greg Norman, and Tiger Woods. That book included a Foreword from Woods. And while the new book includes contributions from Floyd, Norman, Ian Baker-Finch and Adam Scott, there are no contributions from Tiger, as the two have barely spoken since Woods fired him over the phone in 2011.
The book covers Williams’ 36 years as a caddy, which included carrying the bag for the aforementioned golfers, most notably Woods, which is why I decided to read it. I’m glad I did. As a golfer and golf fan, I found it to be a very interesting read.
Williams, who is now retired, lives in New Zealand with his wife Kirsty and son Jett. He writes that rugby was his first love and admits that he’s not a spiritual or religious person. In addition to golf, he also has a passion for motor racing. He writes of carrying his Dad’s golf bag around the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, one of New Zealand’s best links courses, as his first experience of caddying. Although Williams’ had potential as a professional golfer, he loved to caddy, which he states is one of the most under-appreciated roles in sport. He writes that a good caddy can make a huge difference to a player’s performance by offering guidance, decision-making and focus.
Williams writes of being fired by Norman, who he describes as definitely the hardest guy he ever caddied for. He states that if he made a mistake, Norman would have no hesitation in letting him know what an idiot he was. On the other hand, if Norman made a mistake, somehow that would also be Williams’ fault. He writes that off the course Norman was a wonderful guy and that they had probably become too close off the course.
He was then approached by Raymond Floyd, who he describes in stark contrast to Norman that nothing distracted him, nothing derailed his attention and he never got down on himself or blamed anyone or anything that conspired against him.
Later he was approached to caddy for Woods, younger than the 35 year old Williams at only 23. He states that Woods was like Norman in that all that mattered was winning, money wasn’t the primary focus. Woods expected to win, celebrations were non-existent. Woods’ focus intensified significantly when it came to major championships, with his lifetime ambition being to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.
Williams calls himself a perfectionist, in constant pursuit of the best possible performance. He writes that his commitment to Tiger was total. Woods’ obsession became his. He wholly bought into the chase for 18 majors. He wanted to be the guy who caddied for the man who broke Jack Nicklaus’s record.
He writes that while Woods is seen as completely self-obsessed, he could also be incredibly caring. It was Woods who told Williams that he should marry Kirsty, eventually serving as Best Man in their wedding.
He writes that Tiger taught him to strive to be better. He is grateful to have been around a person whose self-discipline and work ethic rubbed off on him. Williams writes that if you told Woods’ something he needed to work on he would work on it and improve.
He writes that a lot of people give Woods a bad rap for his tightness with money, though he states it’s true he’s the world’s worst tipper, but in his experience Woods was also generous in ways people never saw, and which he never made any fuss about.
He writes of Woods’ going through swing coaches beginning with Butch Harmon, then Hank Haney, Sean Foley and now Chris Como. Williams states that if Woods genuinely wants to break Nicklaus’s record, he needs to start over and go back to Butch, indicating that is the only way he can see him winning 19 majors.
He also tells about Woods’ obsession with becoming a Navy SEAL, and intense physical conditioning.
Everything changed with the revelations of Woods’ marital indiscretions in late 2009. Williams was completely unaware of them, and Woods’ failure to make that clear to the public was disappointing to Williams and caused him and his family pain, as everyone assumed he had to know about them. When Woods returned to golf, theirs was a player–caddy relationship rather than friends. And later, when Woods fired him over the phone for caddying for Adam Scott, the end of their professional relationship would spell the end of their personal relationship as well.
He writes of having absolutely no respect for Vijay Singh stating that he cannot forgive him for his dishonesty (Williams writes that Singh altered his scorecard to make the cut) at the Indonesia Open in 1985. He states that Singh is the least impressive character he ever came across in golf.
Williams writes that slow play is the biggest problem in golf, for professionals and amateurs alike. He states that there are well-known serial offenders out there and at the top of everyone’s list is Kevin Na.
He’s also not a fan of Phil Mickelson. He respects him as a player, but says he is a know it all, and rubs Williams the wrong way.
One thing that has gotten a lot of attention is Williams’ contention that Woods at times made him feel like a slave when Woods would flippantly toss a club in the general direction of the bag, expecting Williams to go over and pick it up. The use of that word, when Williams made a lot of money from his relationship with Woods doesn’t sit well with many.
Throughout the book Williams includes interesting lists:
- His top 10 courses
- Best shots he’s seen
- His top 10 holes
- His top 10 wins
To Williams’ credit, he discusses mistakes he’s made (comments he’s made, cameras he’s destroyed, etc.), but the only thing he regrets is an interview he gave on television after Adam Scott won the Bridgestone in 2011 when he stated that week was the greatest week of his life and the most satisfying win of his career (which wasn’t true).
He writes about his charitable activities, indicating that it was Greg Norman who first made me aware that it was possible to use fame to improve the lives of other people. He states that the highlight of his career is not something golf-related but the day they opened a new oncology unit – cutting the ribbon to a unit that bears his name.
The book does contain a good amount of adult language, so it wouldn’t be wouldn’t be appropriate for young readers.
- Gospel Coalition Editors Top Books of 2015. I love reading people’s top book lists. Here are several, from the Gospel Coalition editors.
- Christianity Today‘s 2016 Book Awards. Christianity Today awards a book of the year in each of the following 13 categories, along with an award of merit for each. This is the first year they have included a new category – “Beautiful Orthodoxy”. Congratulations to Zack Eswine (The Church/Pastoral Leadership) and Russell Moore (Politics and Public Life) on their selections.
- 10 Favorite Reads of 2015. Trevin Wax does what his list what I do, listing the favorite books he read during the year.
- 2015 End of Year Review of Books. Favorite books from some of the writers at Reformation 21, including Carl Trueman and Rosaria Butterfield.
- Doug Wilson Book Pulled Over Plagiarism. Emily Belz writes “Canon Press has pulled from the shelves A Justice Primer, a book by evangelical pastors Douglas Wilson and Randy Booth, after acknowledging significant plagiarism.”
- Books We Like. Alexander Bouffard, IFWE’s strategic relationships manager and hardworking flowcharter, shares three books that are on his bookshelf.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London. An excellent resource to go along with this book is Sinclair Ferguson’s new teaching series Sermon on the Mount. This week we look at what the Doctor tells us in Chapter 17: Christ and the Old Testament:
- The theme of the remainder of the Sermon on the Mount is in many ways just that, the kind of life of righteousness which the Christian is to live.
- He says that everything He is going to teach is in absolute harmony with the entire teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures.
- This teaching of His which is in such harmony with the Old Testament is in complete disharmony with, and an utter contradiction of, the teaching of the Pharisees and scribes.
- Our Lord was not content with making positive statements only; He made negative ones also. He was not content with just stating His doctrine. He also criticized other doctrines.
- The real tragedy, they say, is that the simple, glorious gospel of Jesus was turned by this other man into what has become Christianity, which is entirely different from the religion of Jesus.
- For the second view is that Christ abolished the law completely, and that He introduced grace in place of it.
- What, then, is meant by `the law’ in particular, at this point? It seems to me we must agree that the word, as used here, means the entire law. This, as given to the children of Israel, consisted of three parts, the moral, the judicial and the ceremonial.
- Our Lord is here referring to everything that it teaches directly about life, conduct and behavior.
- What is meant by `the prophets’? The term clearly means all that we have in the prophetic books of the Old Testament. There again we must never forget that there are two main aspects. The prophets actually taught the law, and they applied and interpreted it.
- That leaves us with one final term, the term `fulfil’. There has been a great deal of confusion with regard to its meaning,
- The real meaning of the word `fulfil’ is to carry out, to fulfil in the sense of giving full obedience to it, literally carrying out everything that has been said and stated in the law and in the prophets.
- Having defined our terms, let us now consider what our Lord is really saying to us. What is His actual teaching?
- Our Lord emphasizes it by the word `for’, which always calls attention to something and denotes seriousness and importance. Then He adds to the importance by saying, `Verily I say unto you.’ He is impressing the statement with all the authority He possesses. The law that God has laid down, and which you can read in the Old Testament, and everything that has been said by the prophets, is going to be fulfilled down to the minutest detail, and it will hold and stand until this absolute fulfilment has been entirely carried out. I do not think I need emphasize the vital importance of that any further.
- All the law and all the prophets point to Him and will be fulfilled in Him down to the smallest detail. Everything that is in the law and the prophets culminates in Christ, and He is the fulfilment of them. It is the most stupendous claim that He ever made.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ in these two verses confirms the whole of the Old Testament. He puts His seal of authority, His imprimatur, upon the whole of the Old Testament canon, the whole of the law and the prophets.
- To the Lord Jesus Christ the Old Testament was the Word of God; it was Scripture.
- The moment you begin to question the authority of the Old Testament, you are of necessity questioning the authority of the Son of God Himself, and you will find yourself in endless trouble and difficulty.