Friday, 05 February 2016
Dave Renwick and Vijay Singh   (Getty Images)
Dave Renwick and Vijay Singh (Getty Images)

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The European Tour family of caddies, players, media and officials were united in grief at this week’s Dubai Desert Classic, with the sad news of the passing of one of golf’s great bag men – the incomparable Dave Renwick.

Dave lost a long battle with cancer on Wednesday night in his native Scotland, but leaves a professional legacy that not many, if any, caddies can match, having won five Major Championships with three different golfers. 

Over the course of a career spanning more than 20 years on Tour, Dave, or ‘Buddy’ as he was affectionately known, reached the pinnacle of success in the company of José María Olazábal, Steve Elkington and Vijay Singh, helping each of those men immortalise their names in the world of golf by winning their first Major Championship. 

He added another two Major wins to his glittering CV in the company of Singh, making him one of the most successful and respected caddies in the game, with two Masters and three US PGA Championship titles to his name. 

Those achievements elevated Dave to legendary status among the game’s caddies and gave him a presence in locker rooms and caddie lounges around the world which he would rather cheekily, but deservedly, take full advantage of. 

Like so many working class Scotsman, Dave, who began his working life as an electrician before joining the oil industry in Scotland’s North Sea and then Angola, was a man who didn’t mince his words. 

When it came to things he cared about most in life, be it his family, his friends, his beloved Glasgow Rangers Football Club or indeed the game of golf itself, he was brutally honest and equally passionate in his beliefs. 

His forthright nature made him a daunting presence, but any sense of intimidation around Dave lasted about two seconds: once he started to talk, tell his stories or offer advice to young caddies and players he revealed an engaging and warm personality. Especially if your chat involved a couple of cold beers after an honest day’s work.

As the news of his death reached Dubai on Thursday morning, his fellow caddies, players and officials were quick to pay tribute to the great man. 

No-one knew Dave better than his fellow Scottish bag man David ‘Magic’ Johnstone. The pair met back in 1993 and quickly formed a bond that would last forever. There are few in the world of golf who are better placed to lead the tributes. 

“He was my best mate out here, and he’ll be sadly missed,” said ‘Magic’. “He was just a legend without a doubt. Some of the stuff he used to come out with after the rounds was just hilarious. If you listened to Dave, he never caddied for a good putter – we used to joke that he must have had the strongest neck muscles in the world given how much he shook his head on the golf course! 

“He told you how it was – no matter who you were. He didn’t suffer fools, but at the same time he was extremely friendly and helped so many young caddies in their careers – as long as they were Rangers fans that is! But as I said he will be sadly missed and not just on tour. He was very popular in the village he lived in and was made an honorary member of Pumpherston Golf Club because he would always get stuff signed for them and help the club out wherever he could.

“We’ll all miss him but he is in a better place now and we should be thankful for that because he was getting to a stage with his illness where his quality of life was becoming non-existent and he would have never have wanted to go on like that.”
David 'Magic' Johnstone

Johnstone’s current boss, David Drysdale, was another personal friend of Dave. He said: “I think everyone knows what a legend Dave was in the world of golf, but some of my greatest memories of him were away from the course. My wife (Victoria) and I had a couple of brilliant holidays with Dave and his wife Ruth and the memories from our time together with them in Cyprus will last forever. He was some man, great craic and just so much fun to be around. We will miss him a lot.” 

Ernie Els said: "I knew Dave very well. Even when I came out on Tour as a youngster, he was a legend as both a caddie and a person. Davie and I had lots of great times together. Whether we were in the US, Europe or Asia, he was a very good friend of mine.

"When he caddied for José María and Vijay, we played so many practice rounds together. Myself and Vijay were both competing at a really high level in those days and Dave was on his bag. He was a great guy and a very straightforward man. There was no hiding.

"He was a man of few words until you got him going. He led by example the way he caddied and carried himself. He was just a fantastic guy."

Phil 'Wobbly' Morbley, who is currently on the bag of Tommy Fleetwood, said: "Dave had a phenomenal record and that shows what a great caddie he was. I've known him since he first started caddying for José María Olazábal out in Switzerland and myself and Billy Foster went to see him when we were in Scotland for the Dunhill Links last October.

"He was definitely what you'd call an old school caddie and, like a lot of us, he liked to join the guys for a few bevvies. He was a funny man, too, and he will be sorely missed. We will all be thinking about him today."

Damian Moore, caddie for Stephen Gallacher, said: “Dave helped me settle in when I moved to East Calder and introduced me to all the lads in the local pub. He's been a huge figure in Scottish golf and should probably get a place in the Hall of Fame.”

Paul Lawrie’s caddie, Davy Kenny, said: "Five majors with three different players and 40-odd tournament wins - Dave is easily Scotland's most successful caddie. The thing that made him stick out was that he was a character - there was nobody like him. There's nobody said more than what they thought than Dave.

"As a friend, he'd do anything for you. He'd give you his last fiver. That was him - he was a legend as a friend and a caddie. I knew of Dave before I first came out on Tour. As soon as I met him we instantly became friends. There were no airs and graces with Dave. He took me under his wing a bit and anything I needed to know or wanted, he was there to offer me advice.”

Stephen Gallacher said: "I used to play a lot in groups with him and I've known him for a long, long time. I also remember him taking Steve Elkington to Pumpherston Golf Club after their US PGA Championship win. He was great for the community in West Lothian, where he was also a big bowler. It's sad news and I'll be going to his funeral."

Marc Warren said: “I was fortunate to have him on the bag for a few tournaments and I also spent time with him through other caddies. I got to hear all the stories about José María Olazábal and Vijay Singh and I remember the phenomenal season Vijay had when they were together.

“He was a real legend of Scottish golf as his record as a caddie is incredible. More than once we'd heard he might not have long to live, but he put up an incredible fight. That shows you the type of person he was.”

Click here to see many of the social media tributes to Dave.


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