As a niche sports media company trying to build a presence for golf’s lesser-known stars, The Caddie Network is looking at this year’s Masters Tournament as a chance to increase its ever-growing podcast presence.
Since launching in June 2018, TCN founders John von Stade and Merrill Squires have aimed to provide golf and sports fans insight into professional golfers’ most hidden asset: caddies. With the 2020 Masters Tournament being moved from April to Nov. 12 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, TCN has numerous podcast opportunities lined up during this year’s event.
“We’re trying to show people that you don’t have to be just fans of the golfers, but also the caddies,” TJ Auclair, head of content at TCN, said. “Because hopefully there’s something that these guys are doing outside of golf that others can relate to, and it just brings in a bigger fan base.”
The Masters will feature special podcast episodes from TCN’s premier series, “Under The Strap.” As a joint effort between TCN and the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, “Under The Strap” launched on March 23 — just 11 days following the cancellation of The Players Championship. The PGA Tour would go on pause for nearly three months after that, with its 2019-2020 season resuming on June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
At Augusta this year, “Under The Strap” will air one of its most high-profile episodes to date. It will feature the likes of Masters winners Joe Lacava, Ted Scott and Damon Green. Lacava won the 1992 Masters caddying for Fred Couples and was on the bag for Tiger Woods when he won the 2019 Masters Tournament — his first major championship in nearly 11 years. Scott is Bubba Watson’s caddie and was there when the leftie claimed both the 2012 and 2014 Masters Tournaments. While no longer his caddie, Green witnessed firsthand Zach Johnson’s victory at the 2007 Masters Tournament.
Another Masters Week episode of “Under The Strap” will see John Wood, former caddie for Matt Kuchar, chat with APTC President Scott Satjinac about this year’s tournament and the significance of Woods’ win back in 2019.
All told, the upcoming episodes are a continuation of the focus on attracting notable caddies — the series has garnered more than 50,000 listens across 36 episodes thus far. It also recently inked a distribution partnership with Morning Read, an online golf news publication.
“I think there’s a comfort level with the caddies where they’re more willing and trusting of us to kind of open up and share those stories that I don’t think you’re gonna find anywhere else,” Auclair said.
Outside of “Under The Strap,” Auclair says that TCN is finding other ways to interact with its followers at this year’s Masters Tournament. The platform will look to Kyle Peters, who caddies for Corey Conners, to be its “caddie correspondent” at Augusta, giving a behind-the-scenes look.
Following the Masters Tournament, von Stade expects TCN to put out more episodes for its second podcast series, “Happy Hour,” which sees caddies detail life off the links.
“We’ve got to continue to come up with great content,” Harms told Front Office Sports. “We’ve got to come up with great stories through John, Merrill and The Caddie Network platform. I think we’re on the third step of a 20-foot ladder and it’s just going to get bigger and bigger and I’m looking forward to staying in touch as the company continues to grow.”