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.