Tour caddie defends asking for Wayne Gretzky’s autograph at a hilariously bad time

All it takes is a few minutes of listening to the latest episode of GOLF’s Subpar to understand that this week’s guest, Tour caddie John Burke, is a great hang.

With decades of experience on his resume, Burke is full of entertaining stories. He’s been on the bag for multiple big names, including Davis Love III, Brad Faxon, Tim Herron and Bill Haas.

But there was one story that was of particular interest to hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz: an interaction that Burke had with The Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

“Have you ever asked for someone’s autograph during a PGA Tour event?” Knost asked.

“I know where you got that,” Burke said with a laugh.

“If this is true the way that he told it to me, this is incredible,” Knost said.

“It’s a true story,” Burke confessed. “Eighteenth hole at Pebble. [Davis Love III] and I had won in 2001, and our partner was Bill Russell.”

Burke then explained that Russell has been walking on Love’s lines, and Burke had been tasked with trying to keep Russell at bay.

“I’m like 5’9-and-a-half, trying to box out one of the greatest of all times,” Burke laughed. “So fast-forward to 2003 and we’re playing with Mike Weir, and Wayne [Gretzky] is his partner.

American Ryder Cup team Captain Tom Kite offers a lift to US Basket Ball player Michael Jordan (back, right). Jordan was following the fortunes of USA player Tiger Woods throughout the fourball match against Europe at Valderrama in Spain today (Saturday).
This caddie tried to impress Michael Jordan. It didn’t go well
By: Jack Hirsh

“We were having fun with Wayne all day long, telling stories and everything. My step-son is a big hockey player, and really wanted me to get an autograph from Wayne, right? So I hadn’t done it all day long, all day long. And Davis pipes it down the fairway and, we’re watching, Tom Lehman makes a putt for birdie, and now we’re tied.”

“This is the last hole of the tournament,” Knost clarifies.

“This is the 72nd hole. S— is on the line,” Burke replied. “And I said, ‘This is a great opportunity, because he’s over on the left side of the fairway.’ We’re on the right side of the tree right there, right? So I go over there and I say, ‘Wayne, you gotta sign this for my step-son.’ You know, he takes one of his balls, he signs it and everything. And I turn it around, and it says 99 on it. I said, why are you using [Mario] Lemieux’s balls? [Laughs]

“Well, Davis is yelling at me this time, ‘You need to get over here!'”

“He’s hitting his second shot on the 18th at Pebble Beach and you’re over getting an autograph!” Knost said.

“Tied for the lead, yeah,” Burke said.

“At what point did you think this was a good idea?” Knost said.

“Well you know what, he needed a distraction, because we were waiting for the group in front of ’em,” Burke said. “You needed to think about something else. So I just went over, then we just discussed it with a 4-iron, he hit it to 20 feet and two-putted and we won the tournament.”

For more from Burke, including stories about Michael Jordan and Adam Scott, check out the full episode below. Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on