According to the people in the know, he's a different cut to the typical caddy you find looping for the tour pros.
As with many of the top-level tour caddies, he had aspirations of playing at the highest level and then found that a life inside the ropes carrying a bag was a direction better suited for his character. Having just read an article on him, I have a new-found respect for the trials and tribulations the last two years have had on the livelihoods of the tour caddies.
Yes, if you’re one of the caddies who have a player in form then life is very comfortable, after all 10% of a couple of million plus expenses is something that most people can get by on. But when you hear the story about Johnny you begin to realise that life out on the tour has been in his words, “bloody hard work”. Travelling from country to country, city to city over the last two years has been like living on a knife edge where one positive test gets you excluded from the bubble, and having to quarantine in a hotel far, far away from family.
Remembering that caddy's families do not travel with them, that is only the lifestyle of the players and, to be more accurate, the players that can afford it. So if a caddy gets pinged, they are on their own. Cast out of the bubble, not able to get home and more importantly not able to earn money.
I first got an inkling of the situation when I was at the Portugal Masters at the beginning of November. I was in a meeting with one of the caddies who was due to follow his player to South Africa this month for the three series swing that they were hosting. He really wasn't keen on the idea of going because if he tested positive, it would mean he would have to quarantine in South Africa for two weeks and then potentially quarantine in the UK for another 10 days. Putting Christmas in jeopardy.
Like I say this conversation occurred, at the beginning of November, then look to what happened last week regarding the news of the new variant from Africa, specifically South Africa, and the fact that the DP World Tour South African swing has been all but cancelled now; you can get a real sense of how fragile everything is regarding world travel and the new DP World Tour.
Having lived this life for the last two years you can see why Johnny ‘long socks’ just wants to take a break from the travel and spend time with his family. His player, Paul Casey, has tried to persuade him to job-share, to take three months off and come back type of thing, but both know that that really doesn't work because how can somebody really invest in the job when they don't know whether or not there is any certainty.
He has decided to take a break, take a few months off and see where life, family and job offers take him. This decision was made a couple of months ago, and I'm sure he will look back at this decision as being very timely and fortunate regarding the new information.
He may well come back to the Tour and resume his job, albeit with a different player, he doesn't know. What he does know though, is that he's going to have a better family and life balance, which is totally understandable, given what he's been through for the last two years and what potentially is about to happen.
After all, caddies are allowed a Christmas too.