How did Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay get his famous nickname? Enter Fred Couples

If you’re a golf fan, then it’s likely that you know Jim Mackay. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, then perhaps you’d recognize him by his famous nickname: Bones.

Now that you can put a face to a name, surely you know his credentials. Longtime caddie for Phil Mickelson. Part-time on-course broadcaster. Current looper for Justin Thomas. If there were a Mount Rushmore for caddies, Bones’ face would be on it.

But while you might be familiar with one of the most decorated caddies in the game, you likely don’t know the origin of his nickname. The short answer is this: Fred Couples called him Bones early on in his career, and the name has stuck ever since. The long answer is a little more complicated, and Bones covered it in a recent appearance on GOLF’s Subpar.

Justin Thomas and Jim "Bones" Mackay walk down the fairway during the final round of the 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis.
Jim “Bones” Mackay has a hilarious story about when he started caddying for Justin Thomas
By: Josh Berhow

“Three months into caddying with Larry Mize, we’re at a tournament in Paris,” Bones said. “Nobody knows your name. Nobody really cares to know your name because they’re sure at this point this new skinny kid from Georgia is not gonna last.”

Bones explained that all the players and their wives would go to dinner each night on the road. Four or five nights into this trip, the crew went out to a restaurant that was buffet style, much to Couples’ delight. He dashed through the buffet as quickly as he could and sat down at the far end of the room ready to feast.

There was just one problem — he didn’t have any silverware. Unbeknownst to him, the utensils were located at the opposite end of the room.

“There is no chance he’s walking those 26 feet,” Bones recalled of Couples. “He sees a tall, skinny guy very close to said silverware and just starts screaming out these random names — none of which are mine. I’m so skinny, he yells out ‘Bones!’ I turn around, bring him a knife and fork and he calls me Bones the rest of the trip.

“I was thrilled given some of the other [caddie] nicknames floating around,” Mackay said.

Check out below to listen to the entire episode as Bones discusses how he met Phil Mickelson, caddying for Justin Thomas and more.


Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at