Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The First Loop

So this morning I woke up early. Really early. I got on some golf attire and headed out the door at 6:45 am. Was today the day? Would I finally meet the right people and learn something about caddying? Yes, yes I would.

When I arrived the setting was magnificent. The air was brisk and the morning mist was slowly lifting off of the dew-soaked grass with an elegance seldom seen on the local muni courses I had hacked around in my youth. The sunlight kept trying to cut through the fog, and after about an hour, it succeeded. The course looked beautiful. I suddenly forgot about the crazy traffic on the way in, the bills I had piling up at home, even my mother. I chuckled to myself. Am I really going to have an opportunity to play this bitch? Sweet.

The first two guys I met were alright--nonchalant, and I suppose their clothes were pressed--they soon forgot my name, however, as they were engrossed in a conversation about Texas Hold-em. But it didn't bother me. I thought: wow. Between the beauty of this course and talk of poker, I'm just about set. All I need now is a Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout and a few dirty jokes and I'd be in heaven for the summer.

Then my boss came in.

He seemed like a nice guy. Just very intimidating. For some reason he reminded me of my brother. The only differences were that he was a little taller and he owns a business. But he can still bullshit with the best of them, just like my brother.

At one point my boss gave me "the manual." THE--or, at least HIS--OFFICIAL CADDY GUIDE. Some interesting stuff in there. Some basic stuff, like you're never supposed to go into a players' bag without their permission, or you're never supposed to speak unless spoken to, or whatever. There were even some definitions in the back, and one of them caught my eye: the definition of a shank. Something to the effect of "...when the ball hits the toe of the club and shoots off to the right." Sensing the discrepancy in laws of physics, I read it again. Nope. Still said the same thing. Now maybe I'm rusty, but I think what that should've said was: "...when the ball hits the HOZEL...blah blah blah." But I'm a rookie. What do I know. But the guide did allude to the fact that caddying is an "art-form." I like that.

And then it happened. My training was about to begin. A two-some was going out and they wanted me to caddy for a former-caddy. I'm not gonna lie. I was a little nervous. Caddying for someone who's already an expert. I wonder what I'll forget to do. But then I was like, "man, I've played golf for a while. What's the difference?" Turns out it's very different.

I threw on a bib and grabbed a scorecard. I didn't have to grab much else, because my bib was already littered with tees, pencils, and yardage booklets. Who's bib was this? Why the hell was there so much shit in here? It "chinked" whenever I moved faster than a rock--which unfortunately happened often. Stupid useless crap.

One of the caddy masters carted me up the first fairway and dropped me off. I turned around and looked at my first victim.

This former caddy was actually pretty cool. He was my age, and he'd been working on his game for a while. He'd already passed his PAT and he was going to try to make a career out of golf. More power to him.

I found out very quickly that there are a lot of weird things to remember while caddying. And by "weird things to remember," I mean I forgot these things. Often. Things like bringing the players' driver to the green with you, so when they're done putting, you can trade clubs with them and run like hell up the next fairway to watch and see where their next tee-ball ends up. Then you're supposed to use hand signals to let them know what happened with their tee shot. A football-referee's signal for a successful field goal is the symbol for a drive that ends up in the fairway. If your player goes out-of-bounds, you're supposed to create an "X" over your head with your arms. If they land in a bunker, you're supposed to blah blah blah. You get the point. So basically, I forgot a lot of stuff and I'm running in front of these rich people making airport runway gestures. I'm sure I looked like a crackhead.

And the caddy's golden rule? Don't lose your players' ball.

Fortunately, my player was a good stick, and I didn't have to stray too far from the fairway to retrieve his ball. In fact, his ball was never really in danger of being lost. But he definitely skanked a few of them. That's when I realized that there is a feel that has to be developed by a caddie. Yes, you want to run as far up the fairway as possible in order to get the best view of a players' drive, but if you head up the fairway too far, and your player SKANKS it, then you have to run back. Kind of like a walk of shame in college. That happened once today. Which was kind of ridiculous in my opinion. I mean, this kid's a scratch golfer. What's with the topped tee shot? I'm way worse than you and I can't remember the last time I did that. But anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah.

The flag on the flagstick is never supposed to touch the ground. You're supposed to stand at either 9 o'clock or 3 o'clock in relation to your player, and not at 6 or 12. This includes your shadow. Which is a "part of you." When in the fairway, you have to know when it's okay to leave a bag in another players' sight-line and when it isn't (I think I'm going to struggle with this one for a while).

Oh, and a caddy will help their player read putts. My player, even though he was cool, only let me read one putt for him today. And I quote: "As a caddy, you're going to have to learn how to read putts. So read this putt for me. ...I mean, I won't listen to you, but if it makes you feel better, you can read it." Thanks bud.

I read left center, and he aimed a couple inches right. And guess what? The ball missed the hole on the right side by just a few inches.

I'll let you think about that one for a moment Mr. Scratch-Golfer.

So I could go on, but I think this is about as long as a post should be. Plus, I'm going to be working at this course all summer, so I'm sure I'm going to keep elaborating on my experiences as a caddie for you. But I hoped you enjoyed this little segment. I'll be back soon.

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