Scott Vail chose the Masters to fly the Maple Leaf colours.
Vail, who spends his off-season in Oshawa was photographed and filmed countless times as he handled the bag of American Brandt Snedeker.
Underneath his white Masters caddy overalls…a blue t-shirt with a huge Maple Leafs logo across the chest.
“Most places on the tour, we have to wear shorts and a golf-shirt,” said Vail. “The Masters was the perfect time and the perfect place to send out a message to all my friends back home who are Leaf fans.”
Vail has been a Maple Leafs booster since he moved back to Oshawa as a teen. His dad was Eric Vail, a prolific goal scorer for the Atlanta Flames but when his parents divorced, he headed North where he had plenty of family.
Hockey was never an option for Vail. In the early years of the Flames, his father played the pro game. Vail messed around with golf in Canada and began totting a bag for friends.
He logged some miles on the Canadian tour and then began moving up the ladder. Caddying is a brutal business, long on hours and labour, so the right fit can be like a marriage – except with more time spent between golfer and caddie than man and wife.
“It’s a pretty long year, lots of travel,” said the 31-year-old Vail. “You work four weeks at a time, every day, long day and your first day off is a travel day.”
Vail was working for another golfer when he worked as a fill-in for Snedeker during an Australian junket.
“Working for Brandt was a business decision,” said Vail. “I could see what kind of talent he had.”
Good call. Snedeker has earned about $4 million US since the two hooked up.
Caddie numbers are drawn for the Masters. When Vail saw he had been assigned the number 13, he was elated.
“That was a great sign. Thirteen, for Mats Sundin. The Captain.”
Vail says he is teaching Snedeker, a Nashville native, the basics of hockey.
“He knows who Mats Sundin is now,” Vail says proudly.
In fact, Leafs lore is just part of the repertoire Vail uses to maintain a running commentary during a round. He and Snedeker talk about everything but golf until the approach.
“There’s a wide variety of subjects. We talk about the girls in the crowd, movies, sports.”
When the pressure is intense, Vail sees a bit of the hockey player in his guy.
“You are talking about mental ability, the thing that separates the first liner from the third. My guy has it. I don’t have to say much to get him fired up.”