(May 18, 2022) – Born in 1954, Bruce Edwards grew up in the shadow of Wethersfield Country Club where his parents were members. At that time Wethersfield was the host of the Insurance City Open, now the Travelers Championship, and it was through that event that Edwards fell in love with caddying.
Edwards’ first loop in the tournament came as a 13-year-old, and by the time he graduated from high school he knew he wanted to be a PGA TOUR caddie. His parents, University of Pennsylvania graduates, thought he would last a couple of years and then return home and go to college. That never happened. Edwards was meant to be a caddie and he was one of the best for more than three decades.
“He was the Arnold Palmer of caddies,” Jim Mackay told Edwards’ biographer John Feinstein.
And now on June 20 Edwards will be inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held at the Hartford Marriott Downtown and Edwards will go into the Hall of Fame alongside Andy Bessette, the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Travelers Companies, Inc.
After graduating high school in 1973 from Marianapolis Prep in Thompson, Edwards, the only member of his 39-person class not to go to college, set off to find his place on the PGA TOUR. He began by caddying for David Graham at the Kemper Open in Charlotte, North Carolina but it was six weeks later when the break of a lifetime came.
Standing outside the locker room at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Golf Classic Edwards asked Tom Watson if he could caddie for him. Watson agreed to a one-week tryout. The rest is history. Edwards and Watson not only became a dynamic caddie-player duo but they became lifelong friends.
Edwards was on Watson’s bag for 35 PGA TOUR victories. The partnership lasted until 1989 when Watson, who was cutting back on his schedule, encouraged Edwards to accept an offer from then No. 1 Greg Norman. Edwards would caddie for Norman for three years only to return to Watson in 1992 and remain on his bag until 2003 when Edwards was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Bruce truly loved what he was doing from his first day on Tour to the very end,” said Bruce’s 92-year-old father Jay Edwards. “Thank God Bruce was always the kind of kid who stuck to his guns. Those first few years, we kept waiting for him to say ‘enough’ and come home and go to college. Who knows, if he hadn’t ended up with Tom, maybe he would have come home, but I’m not sure. Bruce loved the life out there. He made lots of friends, good friends, and he really found a niche doing what he was doing. I’m really proud of what he became.”
Following his diagnosis in February of 2003 Edwards kept caddying for Watson as long as he could. He caddied much of the 2003 season including a magical Thursday at the U.S. Open when Watson turned back the clock firing a 5-under 65 to share the first round lead.
“The golf gods again were looking down on us,” Edwards said following the remarkable round. “Knowing [Tom] he would do it for me. I am just very proud to have been with him in my life.”
Ten months later as Watson was preparing for the first round of the 2004 Masters Edwards passed away. He was 49-years-old. Watson played that day with tears in his eyes.
“Bruce Edwards, my caddie and good friend, didn’t have a mean bone in his body,” Watson said to the media after his round. “He was respected, admired, and loved by many. His glass was always half full, never half empty. He did his job right, with an enthusiasm that was infectious to a lot of other caddies who became the core looper group on the PGA TOUR. We always laughed at the life we both led, gypsies following the dream, me playing the PGA TOUR and him carrying my bag. And indeed what a great life we shared together.”
After three decades of having his bag carried by Edwards, Watson has spent the last nearly 20 years carrying forward the legacy of Edwards. During his press conference the day Edwards died Watson promised to do everything he could “to kill this damn disease” including the creation of The Bruce Edwards Foundation.
“He was proud of himself, not in any overbearing or smug way, but because he defied expectations and succeeded because of the work he put into the job,” Edwards sister Gwyn Dieterle said. “He made caddying professional and respected because of his dedication to the work, and he reaped success because of that.”
Editors Note: Some information in this article is courtesy of Bruce Berlet and John Feinstein of Golf Digest.
Photo courtesy of the Caddie Hall of Fame
About the Connecticut State Golf Association
The Connecticut State Golf Association functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. Founded in 1899, it is the country’s oldest state golf association and conducts over 60 Championships, Qualifiers, and One Day Tournaments throughout the year.