The golfer/caddie relationship can be a tricky one at the best of times, as Tiger Woods and former caddie Steve Williams will attest to. But on the Sunshine Tour, one of the most successful relationships on the fairways involves a former salesman who is hitting every winning target with his golfer.
Alex Adams is the bagman for Pretoria professional Jean Hugo, and the two of them are amongst the most respected combinations on the local circuit with five wins and a host of top-tens in the just under two years theyÂve been together.
Hugo tees it up in this weekÂs Vodacom Origins of Golf KwaZulu-Natal at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club having already won two of the three events played on this yearÂs series, and heÂll favour his chances for a third victory, having won the 2007 Nashua Masters at the Wild Coast.
With Adams on the bag, few would bet against them. Ever since the former pharmaceutical salesman decided heÂd rather help with hitting greens than targets and returned to caddying early last year, the 47-year-old has enjoyed an outstanding run with Hugo.
This includes winning the first tournament where they worked together in the 2010 Open Championship International Final Qualifier.
ÂWhen Jean first asked me to caddie for him, I just had a good feeling it would work out well,Â says Adams. ÂI think the secret is that weÂre very open with one another. I often discuss my personal issues with him. And we always talk about the money he pays me and how IÂm going to invest it. We have respect for one another.
ÂWhat I like about Jean is that he takes things as they come on the golf course and doesnÂt lose his temper. During the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at Oubaai Golf Estate last year, we shot 80 in the first round. We couldnÂt believe it. But we just laughed about it and came back the next day and still made the cut.Â
In his total of 10 years as a caddie, Adams says his partnership with Hugo is easily his most successful and something he cherishes.
ÂI have tried to pass on what IÂve learnt to some of the younger caddies on the Tour.Â
South African caddies such as Simon Masilo, who usually caddies for Ernie Els whenever he plays in South Africa, and Zack Rasego, who caddied for Louis Oosthuizen when he won the Open Championship at St Andrews, have set the benchmark for most of the local caddies.
But as much as South African golf is always producing the next young star, Adams says the country also has a young caddie who could make a name for himself in the future.
ÂColin Gambu is a great young prospect. HeÂs in his 20s and he caddied for Jaco van Zyl last year. As caddies weÂre expecting big things from him in the future.Â
And with Hugo determined to regain his place on the European Tour, Adams also has his own dreams about accompanying his player overseas.
In this respect, history could repeat itself. Similar to the start of the Adams/Hugo relationship, Rasego first carried OosthuizenÂs bag in the Open Championship International Final Qualifier in 2004. It was also a successful start as Oosthuizen qualified for the Major he would eventually go on to win in 2010.
ÂWhen you start like that, itÂs got to be good,Â said Rasego.
Adams is certainly hoping for the same.