PONTE VERDA BEACH, Florida – Jim "Bones" Mackay quickly realized he could not talk and chew gum at the same time.
It's not that he can not handle both tasks at the same time with ease. Instead, it has everything to do with one of the golden rules of the announcement, and the longtime former cadet of Phil Mickelson and the analyst from Current golf from NBC Sports and Golf Channel were very impressed by his blunder.
"It's like the biggest no-no," said Mackay.
It's one of the few mis-clubs Mackay has done when he went from a 40-pound golf bag to a microphone. It's not easy, he'll tell you. There is someone who speaks in his headset giving instructions, after all. The mechanics involved in the ad must get used. He has a few seconds to gather his thoughts to say something relevant and insightful.
And he is careful not to stumble on his own words.
But Mackay loves his new job and says he's having fun.
"I am very happy with how it all worked," said Mackay, who started his new job at the British Open last summer. "It's awesome. I thought I'd be caddy until I could not lift the bag anymore.
"Not having a dog in the fight, not being part of the competition I miss. If someone does a birdie or a bogey, I am not invested with this golfer. When you frame, you are fully invested in everything your player does. You live and you die in a way with everything that happens with your player. And nothing is more rewarding as a shopping cart than when you have a positive effect on what's going on there. "
Now, Mackay has a positive impact as a shopping cart for millions of viewers, said Tommy Roy, the main producer of NBC Sports Golf. Roy saw the potential of an experienced cadet inside the ropes to announce the action. In 2015, at the RSM Classic, Roy acted according to his beliefs and put Matt Kuchar's shopping cart, Mackay and John Wood, to work.
"I've known these guys for years and it hit me every time we had dinner, the two did not just talk about their player. They discussed the big picture: how are the other players playing, how does the course play out, what the weather will be like, what were the scriptlines of the week, "said Roy. "I knew that they were producers themselves. We knew that they had communication skills. They were incredible this week. They were professional advertisers from the start. "
So when Mackay broke away from Mickelson after 25 years, Roy summoned him.
"He's been on his game from the start," said Roy. "He thinks more about strategy, how to navigate this hole. At first, he used to say, "But, uh, but, uh." But he quickly broke with this situation and set himself up.
Mackay, 53, has regained his caddy position twice on a temporary basis since he took the microphone – for Justin Thomas at the Sony Open and Jimmy Walker at the Farmers Insurance Open. But if he does not exclude a return to his old job, he is interested in his new job.
He pays the same attention to detail as when he was caddy. He always wears a feature book and a green book, both full of notes from years past. It draws from its vast memory bank and examines all golf courses.
"What's different is that I used to ride the golf course through the eyes of a guy who had gone some distance," said Mackay, who played 41 of the Mickelson's 44 PGA Tour, including the five major leagues. "Now I have to watch the golf course from, say, Kevin Na's perspective. Na being a hitter shorter than Phil.
"You have to look at the golf course in a general problem."
Just like he did as a cadet, Mackay is always looking for ways to improve. For example, he is always looking for the best places to talk, because the last thing he wants to do is that his voice forces a player to move away from his shot.
And he makes efforts to improve his vocabulary, typing in his iPhone the words he comes to hear or read, but he does not usually use.
"I want to be more talked about," Mackay said. "You can improve in many ways. I am more and more comfortable, of course. It happened as well as I could have hoped. And I have so much respect for the workforce that goes into a show. It's a total team effort. "
Roy stated that Mackay was the ultimate player on the team and that he was delighted to have allowed a caddy to carry the mic.
"He was already a star before coming to our house," said Roy. "And he's still a star."