As far as caddies go, Jim “Bones” Mackay has had quite the run — and he’s not done yet. Mackay caddied for Phil Mickelson for over two decades, and the duo won five majors and 41 PGA Tour tournaments. Mackay picked up Justin Thomas’ bag full-time in September 2021, and they won the PGA Championship in May.
Mackay was this week’s guest on GOLF’s Subpar Podcast, as he discussed how he got into caddying, what he was like working with Mickelson, his newest gig with Thomas and more. He also explained one embarrassing moment he had when he first started caddying for Thomas.
After Mackay and Mickelson split in the summer of 2017, Bones took an on-course reporter job for NBC. But he still filled in to caddy for Thomas a couple of times, once at the Sony Open in 2018 and again at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and PGA Championship in 2020.
The week at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude in Memphis was a last-minute call after Thomas’ usual caddy, Jimmy Johnson, became ill two weeks earlier and was taking the week off for further tests. Thomas called Bones, who arrived in time for a Wednesday practice round.
On Thursday morning, with no fans on the course due to the pandemic, Thomas opened his round with a block off the first tee. His ball went way right and in the trees.
“I know this is not the place we want to be, it’s certainly not in the middle of the fairway — we are going to have to deal with some things,” Mackay said on Subpar. “So my caddy brain tells me get your ass off the tee, jog out there and kind of set up what you need to get set up for your player before he gets there.”
Thomas had 169 remaining to the hole. He probably had to play a little cut into the green.
“We got these trees in front of us,” Mackay continues. “The ShotLink guys are in there. There’s this little kind of window in the trees and I’m like, ‘OK, let’s move this cable, let’s move that stake, let’s move this ShotLink equipment to the side. And [Thomas] gets there, and by the time I’ve gone through this entire process I’m standing there ready to go, and he’s now standing next to me. And he looks at me and goes, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m getting everything out of the way.’
“He goes, ‘I’m pitching it out sideways into the fairway.’ It hit me: ‘Oh, that’s right, I caddyed for Phil for 25 years and if there was a gap, there was no question where we were going.’
“Yeah that whole wedge-out thing,” Mackay joked, “I’ve heard of that.”
Thomas pitched it 66 yards to the middle of the fairway. Mackay apologized to the ShotLink guys as he walked away.
Thomas missed a 13-footer to save par, but that bogey was his only one of the day. Three days later he won the tournament, besting four others—including Mickelson—by three.
“He did what a lot of great caddies do and they let the player do it,” Thomas said after the win. “There’s a reason why they’re the best and he did an unbelievable job this week, especially for being in that situation, which we had never been in that together.”
You can listen to Mackay’s complete Subpar interview below.