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What does ‘be one’s “buddy”’ mean aside be one’s “friend”?

I was drawn to the phrase, “My short game’s always been my buddy” appearing in the following quote of Tiger Woods in the Time magazine’s (December 4) article, titled “Turning 40, the golfer talks about his highs and lows on and off the course”:

“I had never seen myself going through a spell that bad. I’ve never lost my short game my entire life. I’ve lost other parts of my game, but I’ve never lost my short game. My short game’s always been my buddy. I’ve always been able to chip and putt. http://time.com/tiger/?xid=homepage&pcd=hp-magmod

From the context, I surmise “my buddy” here means one’s forte or strength, but Cambridge online dictionary defines “buddy” as noun;

  1. a friend:
  2. buddies for years.
  3. (US) (as a form of address) used when talking to a man, sometimes in a friendly way.
  4. Someone who provides friendly help to someone with illness or problem.

Oxford Dictionary defines 'buddy' likewise:

  1. a close friend:
  2. a working companion with whom close cooperation is required.
  3. a person who befriends and helps another with an incapacitating disease, typically AIDS:
  4. Used as a form of address to a man whose name is not known:

To me, it requires a bit of stretch of imagination to link all of the above definitions associated with ‘friend’ to ‘strength / forte,’ though it might not be impossible. At the same time, I feel difficulty to compare impersonal thing (short game) to the living (buddy), albeit it's a metaphor.

Is the expression such as “short game (approach, putting, math, karaoke, quibble, whatever) is my buddy” a very common usage of “buddy”?

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    No, he literally meant his friend, his chum, his amigo. And then one day that amigo turns around, stabs him in the back, and deserts him. That's how shocked he felt about losing his short game. – Dan Bron Dec 4 '15 at 5:12
  • @Rathony. Thanks for your advice. I'm very bad speller. – Yoichi Oishi Dec 4 '15 at 5:56
  • @Dan Bron. You'll be right. But I'm still unclear with the equation- Short game (impersonal / action) = amigo (a person). How could the action of putting and chipping be a chum? – Yoichi Oishi Dec 4 '15 at 6:01
  • I was wondering if buddy can also be used to imply martial relationships just like hubby. – Darshan Chaudhary Dec 4 '15 at 6:23
  • @DarshanChaudhary - martial <> marital. I hope. – AndyT Dec 4 '15 at 11:11
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In this context, Tiger's use of the phrase "my Buddy", refers to a long trusted friend. Someone (or something,as it were) he could always count on (to never "let him down"). He is referring to something that is inanimate (not living), as though it were a person.

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    Concur. i would further add that it's a metaphor. He is calling his short game his "friend" (buddy), using the metaphor to describe just how much he felt that he could count on his short game. – Nonnal Dec 4 '15 at 5:24
  • Amazing how we humans personify not only creatures and things, but non-material entities, like one's skill in short putts over years and years. – Exal Dec 4 '15 at 7:44
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    I would say that Woods did this to emphasize a feeling of being betrayed by, rather than simply disappointed at, his unexpected poor performance. – Wolfie Inu Dec 4 '15 at 7:51
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    Specifically, he is implying that since his short game is his buddy, it will be in his favor. – Cronax Dec 4 '15 at 8:51
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As to "buddy" vice "friend", "buddy" has a sense of "less permanent", "more domain-specific", and/or "lower relative status" than "friend". As in "fishing buddy" with whom you only go fishing (but don't invite over). Or Gilligan's "little buddy" status (first mate) relative to the Skipper. Or the "buddy system" for certain activities like swimming, where you're only paired with someone (random) for the duration.

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We use another meaning for buddy at my workplace. I work with engineers and sometimes we send the less experienced ones to site to accompany a senior engineer and observe/ask questions etc. We ask the cstomer if they would mind the engineer being accompanied by a buddy. We don't say trainee or apprentice because the engineers are fully trained but may not have experience of theis particular site/problem.

I suppose it's similar to children on a school trip when they are asked to find a buddy and walk together in pairs to make sure no-one gets lost. Although I would hope the engineers can be trusted on their own!

The buddy system is a procedure in which two people, the "buddies", operate together as a single unit so that they are able to monitor and help each other.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddy_system

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