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The Reluctant Jam Boy



I'm a caddie. This means I drink, play cards, and go on rants from time to time. Enjoy.



Updated: 2014-03-19T03:17:09.895-05:00

 



Your 18-Year-Old Self

2011-11-05T21:45:45.709-05:00

It happened again yesterday.  I caddied for 18 holes, and by the end of the loop, I had barely spoken to the member at all.  I think this is the third or fourth time this has happened—where I’m caddying for a couple of guests, and by the time we finish 18 holes, I almost forget the members’ name.  I suppose there are a few good reasons for this: the constant wind that makes hearing difficult, the challenging walk and limited strength for conversation, and the fact that I’m still new there, and the members have their go-to caddies.  But yesterday I really didn’t have any excuses because it was just me and the member out there. 

I carried one bag, and I barely spoke to the member at all. 

In a traditional sense, this type of relationship is normal.  I mean, I’m there to carry the bag and make the round as easy and enjoyable as possible.  My job isn’t to talk.  But come on: 13 holes and only three or four sentences between us? He even had to ask me my name before we parted ways.  That’s how memorable I was.

He was a nice older gent who mumbled to himself.  At times I thought maybe he was talking to me, but I was never sure.  I mean the last thing he said to me was “good job,” so I guess everything went alright for him.  Maybe he was just old-school, and preferred not to talk to a caddie.  Who knows?

What I do know, however, is that he showed me how effective a straight, 220-yard drive can be on this course.  Granted, he played the whites, which measure around 6400 without wind.  But still: that’s some heavy-ass rough out there with an endless number of funky uneven lies.  Mr. Silent gave me a peek at a new strategy.

Anyway, the poignant moment I really wanted to share was what happened AFTER my loop.  I walked into the TV room to find 6-8 caddies lounging about.  There was an outing yesterday, and somehow I bypassed all the hoopla when Mr. Silent rolled in.  Out of the blue, one of the caddies blurted out: “If your 18-year-old self was here right now, what would he say?”

After a moment of silence, where the only sounds came from SportsCenter, answers to this question flew every which way, but they all revolved around the following theme:

“My 18-year-old self would spit in my face and call me a loser.  I think being a caddie is the last place I expected to be.”

Everyone seemed to sober up in that moment and give a nod of agreement.  As strange as this sounds, that answer shocked me.  I had always seen a symbiotic relationship between caddies and members: the caddies wanted the lives of the members, and the members wanted the lives of the caddies.  I felt this was why so many members and caddies bonded on the course, and as a positive side effect, the caddies were endowed with a superior level of confidence.  I mean think about it: in the real world, these CEO’s, celebrities, board members, doctors or whoever else were all masters of their respective domains.  But on the course? They’re on our turf.

In short, I always thought of caddying as a fun job to have.  Sure I ran into some problems years ago, but overall, these caddies are enjoying their lives, right?

After the responses I heard, I wasn’t so sure anymore.  But at least SportsCenter was on.  Something needed to distract us from the silence. 



Winter Tale

2011-11-04T07:22:08.583-05:00

Sorry for the delay, but the last week has been a little weird.Last Friday night, Big Bear told me to come in at 7:30 am Saturday morning “unless it was pouring.”  I didn’t realize this at the time, but because I live about 30 minutes away from the course, there was a 99% chance that it could be pouring rain at the course but be completely dry near my abode.So, predictably, when I got up Saturday morning I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.  About halfway to the course, however, the rain started coming down.  When I finally parked, it was windy, freezing, and raining just hard enough to make you think hail might be on its way.When I got into the caddie area, there was only one other caddie there.  It was Larry.“What the hell are you doing here?” This is now his way of greeting me every morning. “I don’t know.  I heard it might snow today.  I’ll probably stay until 9:30 or so just to say I was here—I don’t think anyone will even be playing today.”“Yeah, me neither.  You want some coffee?”So we sat and drank coffee for about an hour.  He’s a good guy, and he gave me the skinny on the season at the course: when the busy months are, the fact that I might be able to get on “weekend warrior” status even while I’m working my full-time job, and even enlightened me about a private men’s bathroom nearby.  Now that’s valuable information.Then Larry left for some reason.  I think he went for a smoke.  Then the phone rang.  I froze, and ultimately decided not to go near it.  I mean there’s nobody playing today, right? Why answer the phone?Ten minutes later, the head pro walked down into the TV room where I was sitting.“Oh, you are here.  We got two guys that want to play.”Then Larry walked back in: “Hey, what’s happening?”“We got two guys that want to play.”“You’re shitting me.”“No.  Mr. Little-Strange and Mr. Weed.  They’ll be here in 10 minutes, so you guys better suit up.”Then the pro shook his head and left.  I stepped outside just to see what the weather was like at that point.  It was COLD.  I went back inside, where Larry was already getting ready.“Hey Tom, if you don’t want to work, that’s fine.  These guys tip well, though, so it may be worth your while.”“Yeah, yeah.  I’ll do it.”I never complain about getting a loop, but today I was more than a little worried about my health.  It was freezing outside, and constant rain and a threat of snow really didn’t seem to bode well either.  But, I’m a caddie, and this is the kind of crap some golfers love.  In fact, I have a theory that some private club members who play in conditions like this get such a rush that they end up telling their grandkids about the experience some day.  I mean, many of these members have more money than they could ever spend—they might NEED to play golf in the snow just because they’ve done everything else in their lives and they need that fulfillment.  Mr. Little-Strange pulled up first, and although I tried to be a good caddie and valet his Porsche SUV for him, when I got inside the vehicle I couldn’t figure out how to put it in reverse.  Ridiculous, I know.  But when I sat down, there were so many lights and vibrations that I felt like the car was on when in fact it was OFF and I merely needed to turn the key.  Damn luxury vehicles.  So when I got back outside and told the member that I couldn’t put it into reverse, Mr. Little-Strange gave me a look that seemed to say: “Wow you’re an idiot, and I hope to God you’re not my caddie.”  After he parked the SUV, I gave him the good news: “Hi Mr. Little-Strange, I’m you’re caddie.”While Larry and I waited outside in the horrific tundra-esque conditions for our golfers—who were most likely inside warming up with a crack-pipe—we admired the 100-pound American flag that normally flies high and graces the club with i[...]



You Spinning?

2011-10-24T21:22:26.104-05:00

*The following occurred on Sunday, October 23rd There’s no doubt about it—this course has officially made me its bitch.  I don’t ever remember being this sore.  I think my ankles now have biceps.  The funny thing was, when I came in around 7:30, I really wanted to work.  I did—I thought, “After yesterday’s round with the Carters, every subsequent round should be butter.  The weather is supposed to be perfect, and there really isn’t any wind out here right now.  Golfers should be having fun and then I’ll have three days off for school so I can rest up.”But TP and Big Bear were nowhere to be found.  The wedding the night before must’ve done some damage.  I think both of them were there for at least 14 hours yesterday.  So an outside staff member named Blue was up top running the show.  At first I thought that would be fine, because everyone in any capacity at this club seems to pitch in their fair share and the whole operation seems to run seamlessly.  But Blue made me nervous.First he told me I would be working at 8:52.  Then he came back down 10 minutes later and said it was now 9:30.  Then he came down again and said: “You know what, you’re getting out today, but I’m not giving you a time anymore.”The stop-and-go feeling was a little nauseating if I’m being honest here.  Not only because I really wanted to work and with all of his switching I started feeling like I may not work, but also because he reminded me a little of me when I started assisting with Caddie Master duties back in the day.  I can remember on a few occasions going back and forth with caddies because members were cancelling, changing requests, taking longer to eat breakfast, or whatever else.  It was frustrating because I knew that it was my job to get the caddies work, and if it just wasn’t happening the way I wanted it to happen—well, there’s that nauseating feeling again.Big Bear finally showed up around 9.“Man, I can still taste the Cuervo…that’s not good.  And I swear, the next time I go to grab a cart key from the bucket and there ARE NO cart keys, I’m going to grab an outside staff member by the neck and just start bludgeoning him with non-stop right hand punches.”The caddie / staff parking lot is a HIKE up the hill to get to the clubhouse, so having a cart to ride up in is crucial.  Apparently Big Bear had thrown the bucket against the ground in anger, shattering it into “ten distinct pieces.”Then the phone rang.  I’m starting to love the sound.  It was my turn to head up top.  When I arrived at the podium, Blue walked over and pointed at my bags. “It’s a husband-wife, and you’re going to have a great time out there.  They’re high maintenance, and don’t give them too much information.  And they like to see some hustle.”The bags were trunks, and I noticed as I walked up the steps to the podium that I was still sore and tired.  I really wanted to work, but I just didn’t think I had the energy I needed.  This is sacrilegious for me to say, but I wanted to try to take it easy out there today.  And did I mention the bags were heavy?I was about to assess what I could remove from the bags when the husband-wife came out: Mr. and Mrs. Soccer.  As soon as he saw me eyeing the bags, Mr. Soccer stated the following: “The last caddie thought these bags were heavy, but I don’t really think so and I would feel more comfortable just leaving everything in there.  What do you think?”You like all 15 clubs including a 1-iron, sir? “I think the bags are fine.  You guys ready to go?”The icing on the cake came when Big Bear sauntered up to the podium and greeted the Soccer’s.  BB: “And how are we doing today?”Mr. Soccer: “Fine.  Listen, we really want to whip around.  How busy is it out there?”BB: “It’s not busy right now.  You’ve only got a twosome in front of [...]



The Carters

2011-10-22T16:52:23.845-05:00

I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience when I woke up this morning.  The pain was there, sure, but my brain felt detached from it.  It was like I was observing my own pain and then saying, “Wow, that must hurt like hell.”I stopped to pick up some Aleve and yogurt on my way in this morning.  I seem to be falling back into my old routine—I could never seem to eat very much for breakfast when I was caddying, and Aleve would always make me cry tears of happiness.  The owner of the golf club is getting married later this afternoon, and so the parking lot I normally use was unavailable—they needed all the space they could get for valet.  When TP tried to explain where I COULD park today, his explanation went something like this: “As soon as you come over the train tracks, take a hard left into what looks like nowhere to go.  It’s right next to the 4th green.”I knew the train tracks he was talking about, and I knew where the 4th green was.  As soon as I came over the tracks this morning, I slowed down and looked for the first possible left.  I saw one possibility about 30 yards ahead of me, but then I heard honking.  TP was directly to my left, signaling for me to turn into…well, nothing.  When I stopped, backed-up the car, and looked at the “parking lot,” I realized that unless TP had honked, I would’ve never found it.  TP’s shuttle van sat right next to the entrance of the narrowest, most secretive parking lot known to man.  The opening provided by the gate was probably only 15 feet wide, and once you pulled up into the lot, you had about 20 feet on either side to work on k-turning or reversing your car in a line down the left side.  Spare construction equipment and materials lay scattered on the ground or in piles everywhere.  It was like we were in the appendix of the trucking / construction site—it was hard to find a use for this space because of its shape and size.  So why not park caddies there?When I got into the shuttle van, TP was laughing with a couple of the other caddies: “No, dude, you don’t understand.  The maximum capacity for this club is like 120 people.  When that happens, it’s a shit-show.  With this wedding, we’re looking at about 300 people.  So we’re beyond shit-show status today.  I just don’t understand why the owner doesn’t just say: ‘You know what? This is my course, and I’m getting married.  No play today.’  But no.  We have play on top of play on top of play on top of a wedding.”I took my time signing in, because if the course is really that busy, there’s no rush to assure myself of a loop.  I knew I’d be getting out on the grass quickly.  So after throwing on an extra layer (it was nippy this morning), my jacket, bib, grabbing a cup of coffee and watching Sergio Garcia take a sizable lead at the Castello Masters in Spain, Big Bear came in and said: “Alright Tom, you’re going with Mr. Absent today.  He’s laid back, works on Wall Street, and smokes pot.  I just wanted to make up for all of the tortuous loops I’ve been putting you on.”Four things: if every professional golf tournament was held in Spain, Sergio Garcia would win constantly.  Is it just me, or is he always right at the top of the leaderboard or winning every event that’s held in Spain? I don’t watch a lot of the European Tour because of the time difference and because the announcers put me to sleep—but I’m pretty sure I’m right about Sergio.  Second, Big Bear relayed a story about playing in an AJGA (I think that was the affiliation) event with Sergio the week before he went to play in the US Amateur back when Sergio was 17 years old.  Big Bear said on the first hole Sergio drilled a 2-iron “dick high” about 270 yards.  “It was a laser.”  I think it’s pretty unbelievable that Big Bear was able to play in a t[...]



So...Much...Pain

2011-10-21T21:48:34.711-05:00

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this much pain.  I did 36 today—a single in the morning and a twosome in the afternoon.  I think I only survived the last half-hour of my second loop because of an intense desire not to pass out and die.  In short, I’m going to try to make this post short, because right now I’m having trouble lifting my arms above my shoulders.So what can I say about the first loop that hasn’t already been said? Well, the guy was not happy at the start of the round.  Remember that whole order of operations I talked about before? Well for some reason, even though the staff knew he was in the clubhouse and rushing to get on the tee, they still sent a threesome and a foursome in front of him.  He had signed up for a tee time ahead of all these blokes.  So what gives?Well that was his line of questioning from the time I shook his hand until the middle of the first fairway.  He didn’t want to bad-mouth anyone, but he also really wanted to bad-mouth someone.  The foursome ahead of us on the 1st green simply stared back at us, smiled, and continued to take mulligan after mulligan and continue their topographical analysis of the putting surface.  My player, Mr. K, was about to explode.So I said: “Why don’t we just skip around them and head over to 3? I saw a twosome heading to that tee but we’ll probably fly right through.”Wait a second.  I said I wanted this post to be short, because it hurts to shrug right now.  So let me fast forward the first round.On the 3rd hole, we marveled at a horrible pin location and played through a twosome.Mr. K finally calmed down by the 6th hole, and when we got to the green, we marveled at another horrible pin location.  Mr. K: “What the hell? What the hell? Does the Superintendent even play golf?”Somehow, my crack smoking didn’t interfere with my green reading.  I was ON FIRE with this guy. Sometimes you just click with a player and you can trust his putting stroke.  We made some great putts on the front, and I cursed a few times in excitement, to which he replied: “I like that!”When he found out I was studying to be a CPA, he told me that I’d have a better chance finding a good employer if I shoved my head up a cow’s ass.  He told me “good luck.”  Then he said his wife is a CPA, so I wondered if she had shoved her head up a cow’s ass.  Turns out she now works for him, so I guess it’s a regular freaking cow-fest.My first “bad” read came on 11.  “Bad” as in 1-inch offline.  Mr. K blamed the wind, and I liked that.Mr. K made 3 incredible pars in a row, and we both marveled at the horrible pin locations.  I mean with the strong winds and fast greens, some of these pins are just bad-ass—like “Superintendent Revenge Day” bad-ass.We skipped back to number 1 after the 18th—2.5 hours had passed in 16 holes.  I was sweating just about as much as the day I tried to learn vector calculus.  After the second hole, he said he had a great time.  I hope I get a request from him in the future.  A fast-talker and a fast player—I like it.Big Bear advised me that my next loop would be at 1:30, so I had 30 minutes to have a “serious burn.”  Dude, keep it down.  I don’t want EVERYONE knowing about my crack addiction.So I sat down in the poker room downstairs, had a little lunch, drank a little coffee, and shed a layer.  I had been sweating so much that one of my layers—not the initial layer—was completely soaked.  As soon as I took it off, I felt much cooler, but then it was almost like I had a fever.  I was now freezing.  My 1:30 canceled, but I hung around just in case some stragglers showed up.  TP then assigned me a single, but when I went up to the podium to introduce myself, a twosome showed up out of nowhere and TP assigned me to the newcomers instead[...]



Pulling Something from Somewhere

2011-10-20T20:35:52.275-05:00

When I pulled into the parking lot this morning, there was a familiar caddie waiting in a cart.  When I opened my door, he started laughing.“Whoa now.  Don’t hurt yourself.  Slow down.  There’s nobody here right now.  When you sign your name you’ll be number 2, behind me.  I think there are 10-15 golfers on the sheet all day.”Sure enough, when we rolled into the caddie room, I was in the 2nd spot.  I decided it would probably be a good time to get a little reading done, as well as figure out how I would layer up for caddying today—somebody had cranked up the air-conditioning in the basement from “normal” to “North Pole,” which made me forget in the span of a minute what the weather was like outside.  So I put on a couple extra layers.I bundled up so much, in fact, that TP—an old friend and the Assistant Caddie Master—looked over at me when he walked in and said: “Hey, Tommy, what the hell do you have on there? You need a blanket and a pacifier too?”So while I struggled to determine my proximity to the Equator, three more caddies came in and told the most unbelievable story.  Well, to be honest, it wasn’t the WHOLE story—I was only able to pick up fragments.  I didn’t want to pry and get every detail, because I’m still new to the yard and it’s the type of story where I felt it would be inappropriate for me to ask a lot of questions. In essence, here’s what happened: four caddies went off to play golf on Monday.  While driving on one of the nearby highways, something came loose on an 18-wheeler carrying 10 cars.  A couple of the cars being transported fell off the back of the rig, and so now two stationary vehicles are in the middle of the road while on-coming traffic is traveling around 65-70 mph.  Unfortunately, the car carrying these caddies was only a few car-lengths behind the truck when this happened.  The driver swerved to miss the first stationary vehicle, clipping part of it, which sent the four caddies into a spin.  They were then T-boned by the second stationary vehicle and slammed again by a car that had been following behind them.  One of the caddies broke his arm and fractured his skull, another caddie punctured a lung when his ribs broke, and I think one of the other caddies broke a leg (again, I’m just piecing together fragments of the story).  All four caddies suffered memory loss in regards to the accident, and their golf clubs flew out of the trunk and were scattered all over the highway.Only two “positive” things came of this.  First, when the ambulances arrived at the hospital and during their short wait to be seen by doctors, all of the caddies were yelling at each other.  Things like “I may have a broken arm, but I could still kick your ass!” Apparently they had the hospital staff laughing hysterically, and one of the doctors even said: “You guys are like…too much for the emergency room right now.”  I’m saying that was “positive,” because at least that meant that they were doing alright—well enough to be bitching at each other.  The second positive thing—very positive—was that a couple of the caddies orchestrated a visit, and after everyone in the room knew the story (more caddies had shown up by then), 5-10 caddies planned a visit to their friends in the hospital after their loop was over with today.  That gives you some indication of how tight-nit these guys are, which I think is really special.  Out of the 5 or 6 clubs I’ve been a part of, I can think of only one other group of caddies where you could get a group of guys together to do that.After that somber tale, I sat down in the bag room to get a little reading done and work on one of my books.  Then I thought: why does every bag room smell like grass and feet?“Hey Tommy! You’re going out with Sanders at 10 with some [...]



I Need A WALKER

2011-10-17T11:18:33.618-05:00

**The following is based on experiences from Sunday, October 16th.One of the big differences between caddying five years ago and today is grad school.  I’m happy to report that they’re not just handing out master’s degrees—so far it’s non-stop work.  For whatever reason, one of my professors made an online assignment due today at noon, even though I won’t have class this week.  So I had to finish this particular assignment late last night. So waking up this morning wasn’t fun.  The pink and red sky over industrial Bayonne was certainly a sight, though.  When I finally arrived in the bag room (successfully navigating the maze of doors in the bowels of the lighthouse) and signed my name, I was 9th.  Movin’ on up to the East-side.I would soon discover, however, that I was in for some good old fashioned couch time.  The tee sheet was packed, but Big Bear had to look after his regular guys first.  So after about an hour, I decided to sit in the poker room and watch the drama unfold to pass the time.At first, there were only two caddies sitting at the table talking about their fantasy football teams.  Now, I’m a man, so I understand the concepts involved with creating a fantasy football team and how the points are determined, but I could barely keep up.  The names, stats, and strategies they were throwing back and forth made my head spin.  So I just sat there and kept my mouth shut for most of it.Unbeknownst to me, another caddie was in the process of recruiting poker players.  When this “recruiter” walked back in the room and looked at me, he smiled.“You play cards?”“You know, I do, but I had to swear it off for a while because I lost too much money.  I know that’s probably music to your ears, but I’ll just hang back for now if that’s alright.”He laughed and grabbed a seat.  Two more caddies came in with breakfast and sat down at the poker table, sipping their coffee and bitching in unison: “Hey, are we playing cards or what? We may have to loop soon.”Then three more caddies came in, and the table was full.  The game could begin.  Twenty minutes later, Big Bear waltzed in and started commentating on the action.  “What the hell is that guy doing? This is the caddie room.  Ignore all logic, thought, and instinct…and just push in all your chips.  Don’t think, dude.  Act.”The game went on for a while, until Big Bear heard some static over the radio and told a few guys to cash in and head up top.  Yet instead of going up top with them, Big Bear took a seat at the table and started playing.  Call me crazy, but that fascinated me.  I have managed a few caddie programs (or assisted, anyway) in my heyday, and I would’ve never dreamed of sitting down to play cards.  There were always people to meet and things to do, and it would’ve been impossible to pull myself away.  But I guess after five years at the helm, Big Bear knew the routine cold and could take 20-30 minutes to enjoy himself without causing a hiccup in the first tee procession.Between hands, Big Bear conveyed a story about one of the caddies in the yard who had been arrested the night before.  For those of you who have never worked in a caddie yard, this story may seem outrageous—but this is pretty much par for the course when it comes to caddies.“So did you guys hear about Miller? We’ve got another arrest to add to the list.  What’s he up to now—five for the season? I think that’s a record.  Anyway, the guy gets a booty call at 1 am.  He lives in like…the worst part of Newark.  So Miller puts on a black jacket and a black hat, and there just so happens to be a robbery in the area.  Well of COURSE the cops are going to pull him over because he looks like a freaking hoodlum.  So they arrest hi[...]



Holy WIND

2011-10-15T20:41:57.675-05:00

From what Big Bear told me yesterday, he works the caddie yard on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Just come in, put your name on the list, and unless you’re requested or haven’t worked in a few days, he assigns loops based on rank.  I arrived at 7:30 on the dot, and I was 14th.For a caddie manager, the math is pretty easy here: one caddie for every two golfers.  The absence of carts removes the need for negotiation with members.  Upon first glance of the tee sheet, I felt like I would be assigned within an hour or so.  A barrage of players was scheduled, and Big Bear had to send guys down to the water to help with people “coming off the boat.”Yeah: not only does this place have a helipad, it also has a private ferry that escorts players to the course from Manhattan.  I wonder if any of these players even know what a “Dollar Store” is.So, assuming that I would be looping soon, I threw on my bib and started stuffing tees in my pockets.  Big Bear called over: “Hey Tommy! You’ll be going out around 11.”Oh.  So I guess there’s no need to rush.  I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or bummed about the news.  Part of me really wanted to work a double today just to whip my body into shape and get a little bit more of that cheddar, and then another part of me was like: are you crazy? You’re in horrible shape and you’ll probably pass out by the 13th hole.After stowing a backpack with my rain gear in the special “varsity locker” I had received, I grabbed a book I’m required to finish for a grad school class and sat down in a chair facing the flat-screen television.  The book has been a fast read, and I only had 15-20 pages left.  This shouldn’t be a problem.  But then I started hearing the comments I had missed for four years:“Why the hell are they showing High School sports highlights on SportsCenter? That should never happen!”“Who wants to play some poker? I got an itch and I’d like to win some money so I don’t have to work today.”“That player makes $14 million a year and he’s complaining that because of the lockout, he can’t afford to feed his kids.  Cry me a freaking river.”Then, the icing on the cake came when Big Bear came in and started assigning loops.  Big Bear: “Alright, John, you got Abernathie and his kid in 30 minutes.”John: “Abernathie! What the hell! The guy can’t tip worth a shit!”Big Bear: “You left an umbrella on the course yesterday.  I’m going to keep doing this to you until you learn.”John: “What? That’s once! One time!”Big Bear: “I can think of 10 times this season when you’ve left stuff on the course.  And that’s just off the top of my head.”John: “Alright, alright.  Hey new guy! I’m John!”Me: “Oh hey.  I’m Tom.”The interchange between Big Bear and the caddies or the caddies amongst themselves was just too entertaining.  But I didn’t want to seem like I was eavesdropping, so I moved to the bag room and tried to read the rest of my book.  Out of nowhere, Jimmy V came over and shook my hand.  I hadn’t seen him since Vero Beach, Florida back in 2006.  Back then, he made the trek from Doral and stayed with me and the other manager to help caddie for a tournament.  I remember him showing me his artwork.“Hey, Tommy! You remember those freaking members back in Florida? The pro shop was willing to waive all cart fees if they took a forecaddie, and those freaking bitches STILL didn’t take caddies.  I just had to get out of there.”Now there’s something that holds true regardless of where in the WORLD you caddie: money.  Caddies can forget names, but they’ll never forget a tip.  Conversations about money are so common, in fact, that I remember there were times in Virginia when I would leave the[...]



Setting the Stage

2011-10-13T20:34:18.787-05:00

I didn’t know what to expect.  For days now, I’ve been mentally preparing for the worst.  Could I possibly work a double if the Caddie Manager needed me to? I mean of course I’d say yes, but I was pretty terrified of dying.  The last time I had been to this course was 4-5 years ago, and even when I was in peak caddie form, walking the back 9 with my own bag wore me the hell out.The parking lot for caddies / kitchen staff / any non-members works like this: you pull in, walk over to a line of golf carts, unplug the front cart and take her on up to the clubhouse.  I met the Caddie Master in the parking lot at 11 am, and after a heart-felt bro-hug that was 5 years overdue, he saw that one of the kitchen staff members had decided to walk up to the clubhouse.“What the hell is she thinking?”I guess just getting UP to the clubhouse is a hike.  Can’t wait to lug two bags again and let this golf course make me its BITCH.It was grey and misty outside with endless cloud-cover, which immediately made my hair stand on end: I won’t be able to follow balls in the air.  On top of that, the rough and tall grasses that engulf this golf course are bound to screw me.  What are those three golden rules of caddying again? Keep up, shut up, and NEVER LOSE THE PLAYER’S BALL.  But 2/3 ain’t bad.After parking at the clubhouse, “Big Bear” (as he’s known throughout the yard) walked me through the bowels of the lighthouse-style clubhouse to the caddie room.  The basement hallways eliminate any sense of navigation, so the next time I try to find my way I know for a fact I’m going to go through a wrong door and get blasted by a boiler-room furnace or experience an Ernest Goes to Jail electrical shock from 30 feet.  Sensing my lost-lamb-look, Big Bear tried to simplify my thought process.“Just don’t open any of these doors.”The caddie room is another story.  It is dangerous.  Not “physical harm” kind of dangerous—just “I’m going to lose a crap load of money playing cards and gambling” kind of dangerous.  I suppose this is appropriate with the club’s proximity to Atlantic City, but let me paint the freaking picture for you: one room has an official poker table in it.  Part of me wondered if the caddies ganked it from one of the pits at the Taj Mahal.  Aside from piles of chips, a stack of football betting slips lay dormant, wrapped in a rubber band.  Again, Big Bear clarified.“There’s always gambling going on here.  I’ve seen $1,000 on that table in one hand.  You can bet on anything here.”The poker room also houses the bathroom, a refrigerator, and a long table with pots and pots of coffee.  On the wall facing the poker room is a dry-erase board with two distinct areas: notes from caddies to the superintendent about busted sprinkler heads, wrong yardages, or anything else that needs to be checked out; the other side was a list of reminders to the caddies: 1. Replace all divots and use sand, 2. Rake bunkers, and 3. Stay ahead of your players (Do you want to be replaced by golf carts?).  Call me crazy, but I heard managers yelling at caddies for these things 5 years ago.  I’m shocked and appalled that collectively, caddies haven’t figured this crap out.  Or maybe I haven’t smoked enough crack yet, and I’m just being too hard on my fellow bag-toting brothers.The lounge area sports a 45’’+ flat-screen and three comfortable leather couches.  Lockers flank the entire front of the room, and a huge cardboard flat sat on top of one of the lockers, adorned with some strange arrangement of colors and names which I couldn’t hope to figure out on the first day.  Across from the lounge area is the bag room, which Big Bear pointed out makes no numerical sense: “It go[...]



Hello Again

2011-10-12T21:51:55.729-05:00

I am totally screwed.

I haven’t worked out in about a month.  When I walked the dog two days ago, I thought I pulled something in my back—don’t ask me how.  The weather is getting colder, which means that I’m bound to pull a few muscles even if I spend the next 24 hours stretching.  The wind down by the water will dehydrate and wear me out, and I’m sure by the 18th hole I will be begging the players to call an ambulance. 

Yes, that’s right.  After four years of playing the corporate game, I have been presented with a unique opportunity.  I get to return to caddying for a short period of time.  I was recently laid off from work, and while I scrambled to find another job, I realized that I had a friend from my caddying days who is currently the manager of a caddie program about 40 minutes from where I live in New Jersey.

Where’s my crack pipe? I know I left it around here somewhere.

The job search is going well—in fact, I think I have something lined up in November.  But because of the financial strain of the last 6-7 weeks, I needed to find something temporary to pay the bills.  My friend, The B-man, got back to me right away, and said he could help me out.

Tomorrow’s the big day.  I visited the course once before, years ago, and although there are a lot of things that amaze me about it, one thing still sticks with me: no carts.  While they have golf carts to help people get from the parking lots to the first hole or to the clubhouse, there are no carts allowed on the course.  It’s just too damn hilly.  That’s good for the caddie program, but that also brings me to my first concern: I might die.

So, I’m back to play for a little while.  During the years I caddied, this blog was an amazing place to come to every day.  If I had a horrible loop, I could bitch about it.  If I learned something new, I could share.  The feedback and friends I made through this site meant the world to me, and so this short return to the ring is special not just because I get to misread putts or smoke crack again.  No.  It’s special because I get a chance to interact with you guys again. 

I’m not sure how many of my old friends will even see these posts, but if you’re out there, let me know how you’re doing and slap me around a little through your comments. 

I’m a caddie.  This means I drink, play cards, and go on rants from time to time.  Enjoy.

I may not be able to move for 3 days after I caddie tomorrow, but it will be worth it.  Cheers.




New Project

2009-11-12T02:48:28.202-05:00

Hello again.You know that old saying from way back in the day: “All roads lead to Rome”? I feel like regardless of the various paths I have chosen over the last couple of years, in some way or another, they have all lead me right back to this website. And that is freakin’ awesome.Boy I’ve missed this. I’ve wanted to write something on this blog for so long, but haven’t really had anything happy or exciting to report. What can I say—the office life sucked. Now, I realize some of you may really enjoy your current office jobs, and from reading over my previous posts and feedback I know some of you may hate me when I say bad things about the corporate world. Unfortunately for me, however, the office job I had perpetuated every negative stereotype I could have ever dreamed of, and will make me forever question my reasons for considering that kind of career. Without exaggeration, that place was pure evil, and I feel damn lucky to have gotten out alive.But now that’s all over with. I resigned, and didn’t even give it a second thought. When I left the caddying world, it nearly broke my heart. After my experience in that office, there was no way leaving the corporate world would cause me that kind of distress. Leaving a heartless corporation like that was about as emotionally damaging to me as a loud fart. If anything, I felt relieved when it was all over. But enough about that—it’s time to discuss more important things, and update everyone on my plans for the future.As some of you may know, I’ve been writing monthly articles for Universal Golf. My Editor, Bobby Nicholson, is awesome. He supports every idea I come to him with, and puts out a great product for the readers. It’s always been a dream of mine to write for a golf magazine, and I can’t thank Bobby enough for giving me the opportunity.In February of this year, I found out about the Golf Writers Association of America. After reviewing what they are all about, I wanted to become a member immediately. But that’s not something you can do right away. You have to put together a portfolio of articles, references from current members, a cover letter, and submit your request to a committee who reviews your work and decides whether or not you should be admitted. My status at Universal Golf meant that I would need to apply for an Associate Membership, and I would need to submit 6 articles along with everything else for consideration.After I had finished the portfolio, I spent two weeks trying to finish that freakin’ cover letter, running through 9 or 10 drafts in all. It was only a page and a half for cryin’ out loud. But I put everything together, mailed it out, and crossed my fingers.A lot of things run through your mind while you wait for a decision like that. I would imagine it’s similar to a recent law-school graduate studying his or her ass off, taking the bar exam, and then waiting to see if they’re actually allowed to practice. My application to the GWAA encapsulated about 9 months of late nights and frustration, so of course I was nervous about their decision. It was funny though—I wasn’t nervous for the obvious reasons. I wasn’t nervous just because I really wanted to get in. I was nervous because I was going to be judged by seasoned golf writers. Everyone’s writing style is different, and you guys know how “different” I can be. By their standards, was my writing good enough? Like I said before, it has always been my dream to write about golf—now I was in a position to have my dream validated. Or not.But while I waited for a decision, I continued working on my book. So I spent some time reviewing more of my old posts. I came across some old feedback I had received and it hit me: I had no reason to be nervous. Not because I was sure I would get into the[...]



Final Post

2008-09-16T21:00:10.744-05:00

It’s sad for me to think that the last time I posted something here was over a year ago. After all of the great experiences and fun I had working on this blog, to end on such a bad note was just heartbreaking. This site, and the experiences linked with it mean too much to me to just abandon it and leave everyone in the dark as to my whereabouts and what I’m up to. But, that’s exactly what I did. I blame life for being a little bitch and getting in the way. But that’s beside the point. Let me fill you in on some of the highlights…In November of 2007, I told my boss of 3 years that I would not be back the following season. It was an extremely difficult decision for me to make. At the time, I told him it was because I wanted to go to law school. But that wasn’t the real reason I left. To quote my boss, “We’re only doing this because it’s fun. The minute it stops being fun, we move on.” It sounds sacrilegious to say, but I just wasn’t having fun anymore. The long hours, the thankless members, guests, caddies, managers…even struggling to make ends meet while driving 400-plus miles a week got old after a while. I could go on, but I won’t. Because as much as I could criticize the position I was in, I was also surrounded by great friends and experiences. For every week or two of ungratefulness and physical pain came a day or two of beautiful weather, generous members, and a card game with fellow brothers-in-arms.Like I said: it was a gut-wrenching decision to make. But the way I figured it, I still had some growing up to do and some more exploring as far as my dreams were concerned, and I had reached the limitations of the caddie-world. I’d like to think, that at some far-off point, I could return to my crack-pipe and morning coffee, riding the couch at some beautiful—and caddie friendly—golf course in the future. Perhaps that is what heaven looks like.So, in short, I decided it was time to leave. Granted, thinking is much easier than doing, and I’ll never forget the day I cornered my boss in his house to deliver the news. But, as I walked back to my car, I started to feel lighter. I knew I had made the right decision.Early the next morning, my boss called and told me that I couldn’t leave. He said there was too much work left to be done, and that I was the only one with any motivation to do it. He needed me to complete a management training program as well as develop a business plan to get the company on track and set some goals for the future. He told me that if I decided not to come back the following season, he wouldn’t be upset, as long as I helped him complete these tasks now. I knew it would be a lot of work, but I also knew that winter was coming and I had forgotten to land another job before I decided to leave my first one. So to continue working for him throughout the winter wouldn’t be such a bad idea…at least in the short term.I worked for a solid 2 months and finished both projects, and when the time came for the company trip—a vacation that would signify my decision to stay with the company—I decided instead to decline, saying that I was leaving for law school once again. This time, however, the reception of the news wasn’t taken so well, and I haven’t heard from my boss since. That was in February of 2008.And that was when the housing market and rising oil prices really started to affect the economy as a whole. Jobs became scarce, grocery bills went up, and regardless of how hard I tried, I could not…get hired...anywhere. I think I sent out a resume to everyone and your mother, and your mother definitely threw out my resume. This was also around the time when I bombed my LSATs. Somehow, I managed to drug myself the morning of the exam by[...]



Adventures in Management

2007-07-16T21:12:23.146-05:00

The last few days have been frustrating, depressing, and then somehow very positive. So at the moment, I don’t really know how I feel. What happened? Well, I guess I can put it quite simply: the owner does not want me to be a Caddie Master. This really came as a shock to me. I mean…why not? Haven’t I been working hard? Didn’t I help you get the Ritz account? At first, I was definitely confused. How could I not be put in that position? Will I ever be in a management position with some long-term job security? What the hell?But after talking it over with the boss and getting a little feedback from some of the other managers, I’ve realized that there are bigger plans for me. I don’t fully understand the full scope of it yet—because we are such a small company and the idea of growth is a foreign concept—but I’m slated to be a territory manager someday. Someday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered to even be considered for such a position. But right now, that position is nonexistent. Right now, our company isn’t big enough to support it. So it’s a little frustrating. But after giving it some thought, I realized that the harder I work and the more I can standardize the operations of this company to prepare it for growth, the faster I’ll assume this new title. It is a little scary when I think about it—if I don’t succeed with my recruiting efforts, management training and financial duties, this company will not grow, and I will not have a job. But I think it will be worth it in the end. And there is so much going on right now. Half of my week is spent filling in for the other Caddie Masters’ so they can get that much needed extra day off. The other half is spent driving around to the different golf courses evaluating caddies, reading over 401k documents, writing about management techniques to help with the new management training program and then trying to find time to caddie. If I have the energy. To add to the stress, my management skills aren’t what they used to be. Well, let’s be honest. It is entirely possible my management style NEVER really existed to begin with. But I was informed recently that I tend to think more like a caddie than a manager. Now, while that is a fair piece of criticism, I’ve had a hard time figuring out just exactly what that means. Is this even something I can fix?(Plus, if I’m currently collaborating with the other managers to piece together a Management Training Program for future employees, I can’t be having issues with my OWN management style, right?) Up until this point, utilizing a caddie mentality has really helped me through a variety of jams. People tend to give me some slack when they see that I’m working hard. The only problem is, when you’re wearing a nice golf shirt and kakis and are responsible for trying to work 30 caddies, hustling and trying your hardest to be everywhere at once simply appears amateurish and unprofessional. I’ve been told I look “inexperienced” and “out of control.”Well that’s nothing. You should’ve seen me when my crack addiction PEAKED.Now, in all seriousness, I do have a very good idea of what needs to be accomplished day-to-day, but I’m sure to the average observer I look lost. And probably a little hyper, too.And that’s a hard thing for me to say. I feel like with the history of this site people know me as this bitter, tough, “been-around-the-block” type of individual. But unfortunately, when it comes to management, my people-pleasing tendencies rise to the surface and I come off as weak. I’m sure of it. And as a manager, that’s a horrible trait to have. I think part of my problem comes from not being able to trust that other people can h[...]



IBF And The CBS Tower

2007-07-12T07:09:59.511-05:00

As much as I hate to say it, I do not enjoy going to golf tournaments. And when I say “golf tournaments,” I mean PGA Events. Well, perhaps that’s a little too focused. I suppose I should define it as: ANY golf event where the gallery and $5 hotdogs are a factor. And yes, I do realize the novelty of attending such an event. I’ve just realized over the years that I really enjoy seeing as much of the action as possible. And to those of you who have been to a few golf tournaments before: wouldn’t you say it’s annoying when you’re watching a particular player and 4 holes over you hear a roar from the gallery? Wouldn’t it have been nice to have SEEN that shot live?So I just prefer watching golf on TV. I feel like I can see more of the action that way. But today was different. Today I’d try to meet up with Ian Baker-Finch and thank him for the experience I had a couple weeks ago.Saturday of the AT&T National. I’ve never been to Congressional before, but I’ve met plenty of the caddies who work there and I couldn’t wait to see what they had to walk on everyday. Because from the pictures I had seen, the course looked beautiful.And yes, the course (which I think was the Blue Course, because Congressional has two golf courses you can play—even though I have no idea where they would FIT another golf course) is certainly well manicured, but I do not envy the caddies who have to walk it. It is very large, hilly and devoid of cut-throughs (areas where caddies could make up some ground and get ahead of their player(s)). I think the biggest reason why I felt sorry for the caddies was the crowd space. That extra 10-20 yards of rough that separates one hole from another can really add up after awhile. I’m not saying I couldn’t work there, I’m just saying I can see why I hear of so many complaints with the caddie program. They’re all tired and they just want to go home.Speaking of caddies, I did get to see Stevie Williams in action for a little while. Out in front and hustling on every hole. I guess he really is “super-fit” like everyone had been saying. He even had Tiger laughing hysterically at a few points. No wonder Tiger pays him so well. Seems like a terrific caddie. At times people would shout from the crowd, “Yeah Stevie!” I was psyched for him.Now on this particular day I didn’t arrive at the course until about noon. Right as I was about to pull into the front gate, I realized that there wasn’t any parking near the golf course. I would have to drive about 10-15 minutes away and be shuttled back to the action.About 45 minutes later I was back at the entrance to the course, map in hand and ready to find the 15th hole. I was meeting the boss-man around 2:30 at the base of the CBS Tower. We would then go up together and see what Ian was up to. That was the plan, at least. The original plan also included a nice bottle of red wine to thank Ian for his glowing review of our service, but we soon realized that there was no chance tournament security would let any sort of food or beverage INTO the golf course. Oh well. I asked somebody nearby what time it was. 1:30. I actually had a little bit of time to take in my surroundings. I had entered the grounds right next to the 5th hole. Well let’s see here: what group is approaching 5? I looked up I saw a wave of people surrounding the 4th green. I didn’t even have to check the pairing sheet. Tiger was about to putt out on 4. I crossed the 5th fairway and found a good spot right next to the trail from the 4th green to the 5th tee. Let’s see if this guy looks as ripped as he did during the U.S. Open. Nope. Guess the camera adds a few muscles. But he still look[...]



The Milestone Loop

2007-07-01T23:32:46.940-05:00

There have been some extenuating circumstances recently that have prevented me from getting to a computer. I now have a new job within the company and I feel like I’m in the middle of a whirlwind. It’s going well and I’m having fun, but it just seems like everyone is pulling me away from my computer and out of the house these days. So this post has taken me about a week to complete. I apologize for the length, because this is not a quick read. I took my time with this one because it documents a milestone in my caddying career, and I really wanted to share it with you guys. So grab a cup of coffee, some lunch, or whatever else and relax. I hope you guys enjoy it.Okay. So I guess to start out with, I should let everyone know about a “changing of the guard” that has happened recently with the management of my company. One of the managers has not been doing his job for some time now and the owner finally stepped in and relieved him of duty. I was slated to be his replacement. I ended up saying yes to the offer, because I’ve decided that if I’m going to be in this field for a while, I need to try and cut back a little bit on how many times a week I work as a caddie. So starting next week, I’m going to be Caddie Master-ing at 3 different clubs, 3 days a week. I get a chance to meet a crapload of people and STILL get 3-4 days a week to caddie. Plus, I finally get health benefits. So at least I don’t have to wake up in a cold sweat every night, wondering if my crack-pipe does in fact carry with it a truckload of consequences.So that took place a couple of weeks ago. I was a little reluctant to accept the job at first, because I had such a horrendous experience in Florida being a Caddie Master and I really didn’t want to experience that again. But the other Caddie Masters firmly believed that my new experiences would be positive. I would spend the next few days trying to psyche myself up for all of the new responsibilities.Then on Sunday I walked past the owner as he was talking to one of the senior caddies. I didn’t catch a lot of what they were saying, but I did pick up on important key phrases like: “I can’t believe we’re going to get this opportunity,” and “I wonder what the course will look like.” I just figured my boss had an opportunity to play a new golf course. I just dismissed it. Good for him.Ten minutes later while I was unwrapping one of the healthiest-looking sausage, egg and cheese biscuits I had ever seen, the owner came into the caddie room and addressed the Caddie Master.“Hey, make sure you know Paulie’s taking off Tuesday to be with me [the senior caddie he was speaking with earlier]. Tom, you’re coming too.”Now I was curious. The boss-man walked out of the room. I put down my ever-so-fattening McDonalds breakfast and ran outside to see if I could catch up with him.“Hey boss? What do you…you know…need me for on Tuesday?”“Oh, it’s pretty cool. There’s a new Ritz-Carlton course opening up about 30 minutes from here and the owners are going to be playing it for the first time. They need some caddies sent over. I figure you, me and Paulie can take care of them. I don’t know if they’ve signed with anyone yet [a company to run their caddie program], but I might be able to use our performance as a sales-pitch.”“Oh. Wow.”“Yeah. Do you know where the course is?”“Yeah, I think so.”“Plan on being there around 7. We’ll walk the course and zap some yardages so we’re at least a little prepared for the round.”So here we go again with another pressure loop. This time, however, the loop’s sole purpose was to help my company get another ac[...]



Inspired By Bukowski

2007-06-03T21:21:15.542-05:00

I’m going to try something a little different for this post, because there are a lot of crazy things happening in my life right now and I’m at the point where I think just boiling down one of my posts into a Bukowski-esque form might just get to the root of my opinions a little faster. Who knows, this may even be a little easier to read. I was also bitten by a “rather aggressive” Lonestar Tick yesterday while desperately searching for an errant tee shot and I’ve been a little on edge with fears of Lyme Disease (the “rather aggressive” part is a quote from a website that had a picture of my attacker). So I’m feeling a little poetic at the moment.So here we go: an attempt to write like Charles Bukowski.Sometimes Aleve just isn’t strong enough.I find bruisesNo idea where they came fromA social worker would cringeFrom the sightMy kneesDon’t feel supportive right nowIt’s a balancing act to stay uprightMaybe I shouldn’t have had thatExtra cocktailLast night.But there’s a light at the end of the tunnelA familiar faceA favorite playerAn Argentinean from MiamiThree friends in toeAll avid in their love for this great game.It has been monthsMaybe even a yearBut the member still remembers meI suppose the feeling is mutualI still don’t really know him all that wellBut I respect himHe respects meI feel obligated to caddieBalls to the wallTill I hurt even morePoor logic, perhapsBut the company and the tip always make itWorthwhile.I’ll be with them for 3 days18, 36, 1872 holes of pure joyIt helps to silence my fearsOf a serious jobAnd securityFor the moment, anywayOther caddies look at meLike I stole somethingLike I might not be worthy of such a loopI find comfortIn knowingThat I care enoughTo know that I am not entitledI am gratefulThis player-assignment was not my choosingI will not take this gift for grantedHow could anyone?Good golf and good money?I suppose only non-golfers would argueOtherwise.The member allows me to call himBy a nicknameThe others I try my damndest to pronounce correctlyAlthough not that difficultI try to show their culture the proper respectSo I accent the same letters they doOne of the playersI still have no ideaHis speech was rushed on the first teeI hope that before the 72 holes are upI’ll have itNot to foreshadow too muchBut it took me 70.The golf they were playingTook the form of a Match-play ChampionshipTwo-footers were not even closeTo a gimmeLockjaw was a common debilitationI don’t know SpanishI can only count to 10But I could easily decipherThe cursingA missed puttCaused the body to shakeThe arms to reach to the heavensAnd utter every bad wordEver learnedOn a school busOr elsewhereOn one occasionAfter an important putt rocketed past the cupOne of the guests yelled and screamedFor a good 30 secondsAfter a moment of silenceThe member smiled and turned“Would you like a translation, Tom?”“No, I think I get the picture.”Almost makes me want to learn SpanishSo I can be just as eloquentWhen I decide to drop the F-bombAlthough I suppose“Wanker”Would work just as well.One of the teams dominatedFor 3 of the 4 roundsIMyselfWas impressed at my own abilityTo focusIn 95-plus degree heatReading putts that wouldNormally make me second guessWithout flinchingI was Neo from The MatrixI saw lines beneath the grainThe nods of approvalAnd pats on the backNever felt so rewarding.I wanted to do a good jobThis was my favorite memberFor no other reasonThan he respects me the mostI mean hellI must’ve been focusedBecause I did not even feelOr senseThe Lonestar Tick biting theShitOut of my legWhen I was in the trees looking forThat errant tee shotIt took me over 2 hours to realizeT[...]



Evolution At Its Best: Mr. Safari

2007-06-02T05:31:05.267-05:00

Yesterday I met quite an unusual fellow. I was assigned to a group with four walkers. The member in the group wanted one caddie per player. I guess he wanted to impress one of his clients. I was assigned to this “client,” whom we’ll call Mr. Safari. I really want to call him that because he just so happened to be wearing one of those stupid hard white hats with the three small holes in the front, the sort of thing normally reserved for dirty men with mustaches running around Africa trying to blow away an animal with an elephant gun. He had one ball marker on either side of his brim, and they looked more like crown jewels than practical tools for a golf course. He was wearing a light blue striped golf shirt and light blue shorts, which only accentuated his manliness. And shoes? Why black Nike high-tops of course. What else would you use to round out a well planned ensemble?His bag weighed a ton. My boss has this philosophy which he bestows upon every new recruit that walks through the door: there’s no such thing as a single being too heavy. Meaning, if you’re only carrying one bag for 18 holes, it shouldn’t matter how heavy it is. Over the last 3 years, I’ve modified that statement. I believe for the most part he’s right, but I’d say about 10% of the time he’s dead wrong. Today would be one of those times. It was a cart bag with Dangerfield-esque qualities. He had everything in there: a couple dozen balls, a few cell phones, a pair of shoes and 16 clubs. “I really don’t want to take anything out of my bag.”Is there any particular reason you feel this way? No? Do you LIKE being kicked in the nuts?I looked over at the member, who seemed to be pleading with me with those big, puppy dog eyes. He wanted to please his client. So I took a deep breath and nodded. I wouldn’t want something as small as me changing a bag out to be the catalyst for screwing up a big business deal for this guy. I don’t think that would ever happen, but I just had a feeling I should pick up the bag and keep quiet. Then, suddenly, a hand comes out of nowhere and grabs two wedges out of the bag. It was my boss.“I’ll just take these. They’ll be waiting up at the cottage for you.”I froze. I looked at Mr. Safari to see his reaction. A long moment passed and then he finally nodded and said, “Yeah, whatever you guys need.” Well that’s just great. That’ll save my back a bit. I guess my boss had already assessed the situation long before I arrived on the scene and decided to help lighten my load.Mr. Safari grabbed his belly-putter (with the cute matching light-blue grip) and said, “Oh, by the way. I have a rangefinder, but I left it on the range.”Well, that’s too bad.“Well, I guess I could—“One of the outside staff guys butted in: “On the range sir? Whereabouts?”“Almost in the middle of the range on one of the club-stands.”“No problem. Be right back.”Great. Please HURRY. I can’t WAIT for this guy to double check me on yardages all day.Ten minutes later the staff-member returned with the rangefinder and we all moved to the first tee. It took Mr. Safari a good 10 minutes to make his way over to me and take his driver, because he was just too busy playing around with his rangefinder. It looked like he was getting yardages to everything. Yay! Let’s point it at stuff! He aimed at the beginning of the fairway, over the bunker, on the edge of the fairway, in the trees on the right and even at the porta-john in the woods on the left. I guess he wanted to prepare just in case his diaper didn’t hold out.But the fun didn’t start unt[...]



Really Really Long Post

2007-05-26T21:02:55.143-05:00

For the longest time I have wondered: what does it mean to be a senior caddie? When will I know I’ve reached that status? Is it an age thing? I can smoke a LOT of crack before I pass out. Does that count?Well, today it hit me: regulars. Look on any of the tours. Even though the caddies may be traded around and work for different professionals, they have all reached a point where they’re only working for one or two people in order to make a living. I know things like skill, dedication and hustle are all important qualities to have, but by landing one or two players and then keeping them around, week after week, I believe you’ve obtained “senior caddie” status. I mean think about it. You cannot even HOPE to get requested unless you are able to perform your duties with a high level of proficiency. I don’t care if you’re Dave Chappelle. If you’re a funny man and your players are cracking up after every swing, that’s great, but that will not hold their interest in the long run. Pretty soon they’re going to get tired of raking their own bunkers, getting their own yardages and hitting their balls offline on the greens. I know of two or three “senior caddies” that have been yelled at by their “regulars” recently because they were not doing their job. I don’t care if the member is a huge Redskins fan and you happen to know every stat on every player that ever stepped on the field. Eventually, the players are going to wonder why they’re paying you.Over the past 3 years I’ve had my fair share of requests. To this day I still occasionally go out with the same people. But for the most part, I’m a free agent. I’ve talked to a few of the caddies before about this and they all keep telling me that being a free agent is the way to go. They say that once you have a few regulars, there will be days when all of them will be playing at the same time, and then you have to decide which one to go with. And that can be tough. You’re bound to piss off somebody. But I still think I’d like to have at least one regular guy. One guy that appreciates my service, but still just wants to get to know me and have fun out there. I can already see why it’s a huge deal when professional golfers and caddies split up. They aren’t married, but I’m sure it can feel like that at times.“Why didn’t you caddie for me on Tuesday?”“You needed to call me. You never call me anymore.”“I call you.”“Yeah, but it’s only when you need something. You never just call to chat anymore. That hurts, sir.”It may sound ridiculous, but that really does happen. One of the caddies I work with was flown out to work for his regular in the Byron Nelson Pro Am this year. Five days, all expenses paid. Another caddie I know was working on his senior thesis and his regular gave him the keys to a penthouse in New York City for a week so he could finish his research. Those are just two examples. I could give you a dozen more. So while I understand some of the inherent problems with having a few regulars out there, I would still love to be in that position someday.And then it happened. Or, at least I THINK it happened. Last Saturday, I ended up caddying for a member who usually only shows his face during the Member-Guest at the end of the season. He’s based out of California and doesn’t really get a chance to travel. He just split up with his wife because she was cheating on him. She also has a drinking problem. He’s a monogamous guy and doesn’t want to deal with it anymore. I found out all of this by the time we reached the 6th h[...]



Big Debut?

2007-05-22T22:54:58.654-05:00

This morning was a comedy of errors. Almost 4 hours of my life I’ll never get back. And it all started yesterday.A Nationwide event is coming through Maryland this week and I heard a few days ago that there might be an opportunity to caddie IN THE ACTUAL EVENT. No more pro-am’s. A real event with a large possible payout for me. Or not. I mean, I could be wrong. I know the Nationwide is a good tour, but I also know there has to be a few guys out there that are just barely living weekend to weekend. I’ve seen the Golf Channel specials. I know the score.Anyway, I saw my name on the clipboard yesterday with another name and phone number next to it. The words “Nationwide event” lined the bottom of the page. I decided to wait until the Caddie Master arrived, just so I could get the full story before I called. Remember that caddie Scott from my last post?Well he came in, went to look at the tee-sheet and saw that note for me.“Hey Tom? You going to try and get a bag in that Nationwide thing?”“Yeah. I’m just waiting to hear the rest of the story from the boss-man.”“Who’s got a cell phone? I’ll call this guy right now. Tom? You got a cell phone?”“Not on me.”Within about a minute, he had a cell phone in his hand and started dialing. He left the room. About 10 minutes later he returned with a smile on his face.“We need to be there at 8 am tomorrow morning.”(Just as an aside, for the next two days our course will be closed due to aerification.)“Are we caddying tomorrow?”“No. From what I understand, we’re just signing up.”“We have to be all the way up there bright and early just to SIGN UP?”“Yep.”“Alright. What the hell.”And that’s how we left it. I figured hey, if I only have to sign up, I’ll be back by early afternoon and can go on another date with my girlfriend, who I haven’t seen in about a week because of our conflicting schedules. Sweet. I called him later that day to work out the carpooling logistics, and when it was all said and done, he was going to meet me at my apartment around 6 am the following morning. During the phone call, I slip and fall down half the staircase. As I near the bottom, I somehow manage to slip one of the banister posts in-between my big toe and the rest of my little piggies. Toes bend. When I slam into the wall, I feel like my foot is on fire and I just want to hit something.“Dude? Are you there? I can’t hear you.”“…Yeah…I just…dropped the phone.”“Alright. See you tomorrow.”“Great. I’m psyched. Crap-nuggets!”I iced down my foot and crashed about an hour later.5:15 am: I wake up and run straight into the wall. I never do it on purpose, but it always seems to do the trick. Now I’m alert and ready to caddie. I check the weather and try to make myself look presentable for the meet-and-greet with the Caddie Master. I start humming one of the theme songs to Caddyshack.6 am: I wait patiently outside to meet up with one of my own personal hero’s: Scott the caddie. Not only is he a great caddie, but he was also a big inspiration for my whole fascination with crack. My phone rings.“I’ll be there at 6:30.”Click. No hello. No goodbye. No, “I’ll bring the pipe.” He was just calling to tell me that he couldn’t get up this morning.6:16 am: He calls again. “Tom, you had better drive yourself. I’m starting to hit some traffic.”Oh, that’s right. I forgot. Around our neck of the woods, if you’re heading east on a weekday morning, you had better be on the road before 6 am, otherwise y[...]



The Big Name

2007-05-13T20:23:01.082-05:00

I’m toast. I think I’ve racked up doubles every day for the past week. At this point, my neck is burned, my feet feel like they’re broken and I think I’ve consumed more pain medication than Keith Richards. But, I also have cabbage falling out of my pockets. And that always feels great.I’ve actually been depressed lately because I haven’t had the time or energy to write. So much has happened to me and I go to sleep every night pissed off because I haven’t been able to tell anyone about it. I’ve started working on a rather massive post which includes 3-4 of my last 7 days, but it’s not quite finished yet and I’ve decided that I have to get this post off of my chest first. Yesterday something pretty significant happened. I caddied for a big name.Now, in my caddying career thus far I’ve been fortunate. I’ve caddied for several big names, but most of them are so obscure that only a die hard politician or a crazed sports fan would know who any of them are. In fact, many of them were just regular people to me until the Caddie Master pulled me aside after the loop and said something like, “He used to be the CEO of this,” or “He helped get the President out of that.” I’ve been keeping a list and at some point I want to release all of the names, but I haven’t quite figured out when the right time for that would be.So for now I’ll start with one name. Peyton Manning.It started out as any other day. The only exception was that I knew I was working a double. The tee sheet looked rabid, and I was hoping to get my double over with quickly. Kind of like a flu shot. Because there’s nothing worse than working an early loop, sitting around for a few hours and then going out late in the afternoon to complete your 36 hole stint.I was sent out fairly early with Mr. Nice-Guy, the first member to ever request me. He would be playing with Mr. Aussie, another cool member who gave me one of my biggest tips back in 2005. Somehow they knew each other, and that was just fine by me.A “shadow” would be joining us. Yes, I know. Shadows tend to do that. But this “shadow” was a new recruit, and up until this point he had only been working valet. So his golf knowledge was a little on the slow side. A nice kid though. Eager to learn. Reminded me of me 2 years ago.Anyway, Mr. Nice-Guy and Mr. Aussie were very easy to caddie for, but they certainly made the “shadow” work a little harder than he was used to.“Hey Shadow, why don’t you rake that bunker so Tom doesn’t have to?”“Oh, no, that’s alright Mr. Nice-Guy. I can get it for you.”“Nonsense. These new trainees have to learn somehow.”True, but I don’t like people doing the work for me. I feel like I’m not doing my job. Besides, I’ve been on loops with “shadows” before, and there were times when the other caddie in the group would really take advantage of the wee shadow. I remember one loop where the shadow carried two bags for 14 holes. Pretty amazing considering he had never even carried ONE before. I’m not saying I’m anywhere NEAR that by asking a shadow to rake a bunker, but I still get a little gun-shy of making them do things for me. I mean come on: I’m the one getting tipped kid. Just take it easy. You’ll be working hard soon enough.But Mr. Nice-Guy kept after him.“Come on now! Grab this bag! You know Tom, I don’t know what the training procedures are, but I feel like these new guys have to learn the pop-pop-pop that’s expected of them right away. Can’t take it eas[...]



My Punishment And New Bag Designs

2007-05-03T22:53:13.397-05:00

After the whole “Velvet Cuddles” incident, I realized a few things. Like how some people can be perfectly happy being smelly turds. Or how under the right (or wrong) circumstances, a golfer CAN indeed get under my skin. Sad, but true. But the one thing I didn’t expect was to have the Caddie Master rub it in my face.He’s a drinking buddy and somebody that I respect. I was exhausted and showed a moment of weakness. And then I let something slip about the whole situation in the caddie room. Okay, I’m human. But to make me wait for 5 hours in the caddie room AND make fun of me for it makes me a little frustrated.He told me to come in at 9, so I did. I knew I would need to work hard to regain some of the respect that I had lost, so I was prepared to wait for a while. One of the caddies’ near me leaned over.“So. Tom. I had your boy this past weekend. The one with the Red Sox cap on.”“Oh yeah?”“Yeah. He was a douche-bag.”That made me laugh. I hadn’t thought of using that angle to describe him. I liked it. Then the Caddie Master jumped in.“Yeah, but Tom came to me so freakin’ upset. He looked like he was going to cry. I was like, dude? What the hell?”You know, a simple “Tom looked pissed” might’ve sufficed. I don’t remember almost crying. Now you’re making me sound like a pussy. I was seconds away from hitting Mr. Cuddles in the face or walking off of the loop (or, as English Dave puts it, I should’ve just “kicked him in the nuts”). Wasn’t switching me to another loop a better option?Okay, so now the Caddie Master has just embarrassed me in front of 5-10 caddies. Maybe he felt he had to in order to re-assert his position as manager for doing me a favor, but I still don’t think that was cool. I mean—normally—he’s the one sticking up for me.Oh, and the 401k I spent the last 9 months writing for this company? Well you’re welcome.Caddie after caddie went out in front of me. I drifted in and out of sleep, sure, but that’s only because I didn’t want to stare at the floor or watch Sports Center for 5 straight hours. And honestly, if it was any other day, I wouldn’t have cared. But today I had plans at 7 to meet up with some friends for dinner. I figured coming in at 9 am would give me plenty of time to loop and get around for dinner. Apparently not.So at 2:45 I walked out to meet my group. I was tired, hungry and in no mood to caddie. To top it all off, one of the bag guys walked by me and said, “Hey, you better grab a change-out bag. Well, actually, you might need two. The other bag is suspect.”Awesome. Bring on the pain.But, regardless of how crappy I felt, when I met my first player I cheered up almost immediately. He was 28 or 29 and just excited as hell to be golfing at this course. “Hey, I’m Tom.”“Tom? Hey man. I’m Surge. Really great to meet you.”“Yeah. Could you help me real quick and change out your bag?”“Oh yeah! Sure!”I never knew admitting your bag was heavier than a dump-truck could be so much fun. Then I met my other “suspect” bag, which belonged to Mr. Giggles.“Hey, I’m Tom.”“I’m Mr. Giggles! Tee-hee!”It’s unbelievable how funny that is to me. I want to call him that because, unlike any of the other CEO-types I’ve caddied for, you could say just about anything to him and he’d pee his pants.“You just toed the hell out of your 8-iron.”“Tee-hee! I know! Well what do you expect with a swing speed of 42 miles-per-hour? Ha!”Surge sa[...]



The Tale of Velvet Cuddles

2007-04-30T21:26:56.927-05:00

Well, it finally had to happen. I finally won some money playing cards. It was a ferocious 5 hour battle, and when the dust settled I emerged the big winner with 26 new bills to my name. The only problem was, the time was now 2:45 am.I had to be up at 6. I had to be ready for 36 holes.The alarm was loud—just as advertised. I’ve learned to strategically place my alarm at the far end of the room so I have to physically get out of bed and cross the room just to get to it. It usually works pretty well, unless of course you forget to pick up your floor and you’ve got papers, clothes and random boxes lying around. Now, instead of a peaceful morning jaunt to the clock, you have a gauntlet with a Minotaur waiting to kick your ass. This morning I tripped on a dense pile of clothing, tried to catch myself by hopping forward and slammed into the wall. Rise and shine.Before I knew it, I was in 7-Eleven desperately trying to get my hands on some caffeine. I read in Newsweek recently that caffeine is really quite bad for you in high doses. Well so is crack. Whoop-tee-freakin’-doo.And then I see it. A drink so ingenious, so loaded with caffeinated goodness that I knew it had to be mine: coffee with ginseng and taurine. Well slap me around and call me Susie. Could this be the greatest invention EVER? It was called “Fusion” and it was contained in a jug with a yellow handle. I didn’t even know 7-Eleven HAD coffee in containers with handles of that persuasion. So I made a rookie mistake and added too much half-and-half. In fact, I’m so tired at this point that for 2 minutes I’m opening the little half-and-half containers and squeezing them out into the garbage, thinking I’m actually pouring them into my cup. But regardless of this little miscue, I still must’ve put 10 of those little containers into my little nuclear-reactor of a drink. So now instead of having a NORMAL tasting coffee I have one that tastes like I’m sucking liquid from a caffeinated cows’ teat. Awesome.After I consume my breakfast and 19/20 ounces of nuclear teat, my heart is racing, I’m noticeably shaking and my lower intestine is wringing out farts much like you wring a towel free of water. Perfect. Now I was in top caddying form.For the next two days a rather large outing would be filling up most of the tee sheet. Ryder Cup formats, 36 holes and lots of beer each day. The participants are matched up in two-man teams but there are only enough caddies to put ONE looper with each foursome. The caddie-player pairings are almost arbitrary with the exception of the player who organized the entire event. He would be taking the caddie he uses religiously—a young lad of about 30 who is so far right politically that he makes the fanatical Christians on Capitol Hill look like Girl Scouts. But despite his rough exterior, he’s one of the nicest caddies we have.The Caddie Master finally approached me: “Hey Tom? How about you take Mr. Country. Go find his bag. It’s over in that mess of carts somewhere.”Really? THE Mr. Country? The enchanting lyricist with a friend who triple-hit his chip on 13 the other day? Sweet. And it didn’t take me long to find his bag. When I got within 30 feet of his location I could hear that voice. He was talking to his partner about a new song he had just recorded.“…It’s a real cute ditty called, ‘Have I Got A Deal For You.’ And you’re just going to love the lyrics.”I wish I could remember exactly what the wor[...]



Lesson Learned

2007-04-26T22:56:18.885-05:00

Eight golfers. Eight caddies. That was 7 am this morning.I was scheduled to come in early. I never really give it any thought because I figure hey, it’s probably busy and the Caddie Master needs some guys in early. But when I arrived this morning and saw the tee sheet, I was a little confused. It was dead. There I was, surrounded by 7 other caddies and there didn’t appear to be anyone on the tee sheet. I pulled one of the staff boys aside.“Why are there 8 caddies here staff guy?”“Twas the members’ request caddie man. One caddie per bag. Eight bags. I achieved a Q+ average in math, but it looks like 8 caddies are needed this morning.”“Well said staff guy.”As soon as you tell a caddie that he’ll be carrying one bag, two things immediately happen: First, a concerned look will wash over his face when he starts to think about the potential tip. Caddies look forward to a certain number to walk the course, and if they’re only carrying one bag, there’s the potential for that number to be much lower than expected. How much will I get? Will the member “take care of me” because he’s hosting an outing?Secondly, the caddie will start to think about how easy the loop will be and will allow each individual muscle to atrophy, starting with the brain first.And as much as I hate to admit it, I would also fall under those two descriptions. A long winter, outstanding credit card balances and my tab with certain drug dealers have me backpedaling. I’m also a huge fan of lightening the load on my shoulders whenever I get the chance, because as a caddie, you never know how long you might be working until you get a day off.So yeah—long story short—my crack-bill is due and there are no grace periods.Now the problem comes in when the brain starts shutting off. Obviously. The hustle, professionalism and focus all dissipate when you know you have an easy job ahead of you and you’re surrounded by 7 of your friends.So when the time finally arrived for all of us to make an appearance in “the circle” (a small area for carts to park and people to gather just short of the 1st tee), we’re a little riled up and thinking about plans for later in the evening. At this point, going to a rock concert right now would be a better fit for us. But instead, we were about to greet a corporate outing at 8 am.First, we all start sizing up the bags. Which bags have stands? Where are the trunks? Who has the nicest set of clubs? Which bags have the best looking straps? All important questions with valuable answers. The older veteran caddies are usually the first to pounce on a “money bag.” This is usually the lightest-looking bag with the brand-name irons. To be honest, this very moment was a lot like musical chairs at summer camp. And I was never very good at musical chairs.Then again, as much as I would’ve loved to “pounce” on the “good bag,” when you have 8 golfers come out of the clubhouse without a clue as to the pairings and 8 caddies come out of the caddie yard without any motivation to work, it’s like trying to mix oil and water. You should’ve seen it: the caddies were on one side of the bags and the players were on the other. It was like some invisible line had formed that nobody dared to cross. After a few minutes, a couple of caddies made a bee-line towards a bag they liked, but THAT ended up causing some problems because the Caddie Master had his own thoughts as to the pairings, and so people were being switche[...]



5 Hours and 45 Minutes of Insanity

2007-04-24T10:02:14.793-05:00

Although the golf course is now open 7 days a week, I think many members still consider Monday’s to be closed. That’s all I can figure, because it was 82 and sunny today and all of 5 groups graced the first tee-box. I was told to arrive at 10 am. This meant sleeping in until 9, which was something I hadn’t done in a long time. There was something so peaceful about sleeping in, coming to work and being sent right out on a loop. With an approximate tee-time of 11, I wouldn’t have to worry about working a double, and I almost felt like celebrating with my token crack pipe. In fact, yes, let me do that. But wait. Before I do, let me just take a look at the tee sheet and make sure that life is in fact perfect. There’s nobody on the sheet until 12:30. Crap. I was told to come in at 10 just in case there were any “additions.” Double farts.So once I arrived, I did what every other self-respecting caddie would do if he had to wait around for a while. I fell asleep. But it wasn’t a peaceful sleep. I’ve had to train myself over the last couple of years to be a very light sleeper in the caddie room, because you never know when somebody might throw a golf ball at your bean-bag, a nerf ball at your head, or take a permanent marker and draw a dick on your face.You wouldn’t really expect that last one, seeing as how this is a “customer-service industry” and there is so much face-to-face interaction required, but I’ve seen it happen. And it’s hard as hell to tell a member what club they should use when you have a giant dong on your face.So as I went in and out of slumber I caught little pieces of what was going on around me. The radio would buzz and blast out info about members arriving. A caddie would chime in and ask, “Any more additions?” No. I’d wake up 20 minutes later to find a card game going on. Twenty-minutes or so after that I heard one of the caddies taking food orders for lunch. I decided I wasn’t hungry, so I kept sleeping.After about an hour of nodding off, I decided to get up and interact. You know, just hang out. I tossed the nerf ball around with another caddie, I bought a diet coke, took a few sips and talked with our resident conspiracy-theorist about what ACTUALLY happened to building 7 on September 11th, 2001. And then, after hearing the theory for the 34th time, I decided to go to the bathroom.You might think all this fluff about my activities is somewhat pointless, but I’m trying to paint a little picture before the rest of my day unfolded. Basically, up until this point, I was just lounging around and feeling very relaxed.So now here I am—relaxed and ever so content on the John—when there’s a knock on the door.“Someone’s in here.”Just in case the locked door wasn’t dropping any hints.“Tom? You in there?”“Yeah. What?”“You’re on the tee! Just pinch it off and let’s go!”There was laughter in the background.“Be right out.”The lounging around was over. Now I’m flying. In the last 30 minutes, the Caddie Master had to have walked by me at least 20 times. Couldn’t he have dropped some sort of hint? I WOULD’VE been ready. Oh well. I ran outside to see what the hell was going on.“Who the hell do I have today?”“You’ll be caddying with Tony. You’re both taking this foursome on carts. Easy job today.”“Thanks.”There was, of course, one thing he left out. This foursome consisted of guest[...]



The Short Game Scramble

2007-04-16T21:10:57.097-05:00

Yesterday was the opening-day scramble at my home course. Normally, the head-pro is asking staff guys to play in it because there aren’t enough members interested. But this year was different. Ten foursomes were formed (5 more than last year) and until about 5 minutes before the shotgun, I was unaware that I was even working. It was one of those mornings where most of the caddies were just loitering around the yard laughing, eating and running up to their cars for a smoke break. It was noisy and nobody seemed to care whether or not they worked. They were all just happy to be hanging out—myself included. But secretly, one by one, caddies were chosen for the tournament and after a while, the cart barn went quiet. And as I looked around me and noticed there were only a few caddies left, I finally started to wonder. Was I going to work today?Almost as soon as I had that thought my boss (who was subbing in for the regular Caddie Master) called my name.“Strapinski!”A while back my boss found out that I’m ¼ Polish and so now he calls out almost any Polish-sounding name that comes to mind when he wants to grab my attention. Everything usually ends with a “-ski.” I don’t mind. It usually makes me laugh. I mean, if your name was Mark and somebody started calling you Doofy, you’d probably look at them funny and laugh too. And if it wasn’t “Strapinski,” it was Dumbowski. If it wasn’t Dumbowski, it was Papinski. It’s all gravy. I grabbed a towel and ran out to the circle to find a horde of people surrounding the head pro.“—So do you understand the format? Not only do you have to use 3 drives from everyone, but you have to play from 6 bunkers, use 6 shots out of the rough and use 6 shots from the fringe or fairway areas around the greens. You are never allowed to be on the greens in regulation. This is a ‘short-game scramble’ contest today gentlemen.”Although I’ve never caddied under this format before, it sounded intriguing. Under this format, that meant that if after 12 holes your group had already taken 6 fairway/fringe shots and 6 shots from the rough, from 13-18 you’re now forced to try and get up and down from the bunkers. That meant a lot of Nicklaus-esque course management and planning throughout the round. Because as I thought about it, many of the “good-miss” areas were 1/10th the size of the putting surfaces. And if you’re trying to hit that target from even 120 yards out, that can present a problem. Especially under the crappy weather conditions, which were kicking up some cold and blustery winds.I felt like I’ve read about this sort of challenge before. Maybe it was in Dave Pelz’s Short Game Bible. I think Mr. Pelz said this is one of the best short-game tests out there, and even the pro’s can only finish even or -1 on their BEST days. I have to agree with him. Without exaggeration, this is the most challenging tournament format I’ve ever seen. It was so much fun to work as a team with my players and try and determine where the best lay-up areas were. It was also very challenging, because every player has his or her own style as far as how to attack any given hole. Certain players are more comfortable with bunker shots than others, for example. But now you have 6 people (including the caddies) trying to put their heads together and figure out where the safest play would be on any given hole. [...]