Monday, April 18, 2005

Trial By Fire

When I left the house this morning, I knew something was going to happen. Yes, that is certainly vague. I mean, there were a lot of wind gusts today, and by golly, that counts as "something happening." But, in all seriousness, I had this strange feeling that I was going to double it up today. And sure enough, I just got back a little while ago from 36 holes.

I forecaddied for both rounds: the first being with four golfers, the second with three. I don't think I've ever been this active in my entire life. I was always doing something, and everywhere I went, I WAS RUNNING. Everywhere. I was thinking about it in the car-ride home, and I will use this analogy so you can get a better understanding of how beat I feel right now: run 400-meters, take a 10 minute break, and then run another 400-meter race. My feet and legs are killing me. But man, I did some great things today.

I'm not going to go over each of the rounds in their entirety, because to be honest, I was always on the move and there weren't too many opportunities (other than when I was on the green) to stop and smell the roses. But let's start with my first round.

My first round was difficult. It was difficult for a few reasons. First and foremost, this was the first time I had forecaddied for 4 people in carts. So, needless to say, there were a lot of "learning experiences" to be had.

For instance. On the first hole after I had introduced myself to everyone, I wrote their names down on the scorecard. Okay, that was a smart move, but once I ran out into the fairway and found a spot in the right rough to observe their tee-shots, I realized I had no clue who was hitting. Damn. So giving the yardages to everyone took a little longer on the first hole, because I kept running back and forth across the fairway to check with the foursome and see who was hitting what ball.

Not a very impressive start, but after I got down what they were wearing and discovered a good system for keeping track of where each person was and writing down ONE distance (instead of writing two yardages, one for the front of the green and one for the total distance to the flagstick), I was organized and ready to roll by the 3rd hole.

Yardages soon became easy to give out and keep track of. Now I had to confront my worst skill head on: reading the greens. Now again, I HAVEN'T PLAYED THIS COURSE YET. So I don't know if the yardages I'm giving for some shots are legit, because yeah, it may be uphill, but I don't know if an extra club will get you there. And putting. As I've said, I don't consider myself to be kick-ass at reading greens for my own purposes, so I'm a little hesitant to give advice anyway. But right off the bat on the first hole, this group, the ENTIRE group, asked me for a read on their putts. And, after completing the first hole, two out of the four were still interested in what I had to say about the greens.

Throughout the round, my fan club grew and dwindled. Sometimes one of them would lean over to me and say, "nice read," which of course is just about the best compliment a player can give a caddie. On the same token, however, I had a player ask for a read, realize after he hit it that it was a terrible line, and just stare at me for a moment as the ball missed the hole by a couple of feet. That didn't feel too good. But again, I worked hard, and a few of them gave me compliments at the end of the round in front of a few of my colleagues. So that rocked. I mean, the tip was pretty low (probably because of my stellar green-reading abilities), but at least some of the higher-ups heard about my good work.

And just as I'm loading up a cart to bring a few bags up to valet, I hear my boss.

"You good for another round today?"

At this point my exhaustion hadn't hit me, and I was hyper. I was excited and I was gassy. I think I ripped a little fart every time I took a step. I felt like a shark. I had to keep moving. If I didn't, I'd have to smell myself, which I KNEW was not my bag.

So I replied: "Hell yeah. I'm good."

After about 15 minutes, as I was relaxing in the caddie room, it hit me. First my feet, then my legs, and then my head began to droop. I was really freakin' tired. But before I could think of anything even resembling a rational thought, I got the go ahead, and I was out running down the fairway again for a new group. This time, it was a threesome.

After they had all hit their first shots, I was energized again. I ran across the fairway and threw down my towel in the rough to mark one of the players' balls, and like a professional basketball player doing suicides during practice, I dug my right foot in the ground and made a sharp turn back onto the fairway to get the distance. I could feel it, the other player's would feel it soon, and your mom always feels it. I was ON FIRE. I knew this second round would be awesome.

I changed two things for this round. First, I never let any of the player's think that I was guestimating some of the yardages. I just gave them their numbers, and that was it. None of this, "Well, it's about 150 yards from here." This may sound like common sense, and it really is, but you'll just have to believe me when I say that I've been having trouble saying, "Sir, you're 149 from the flagstick," and leaving it at that. I'm still trying to fight through one of my old personality traits of "always trying to please," so I'm just used to always leaving an opening for someone. Not anymore.

"Sir, you're 164 from the front, 175 from the pin, and who's your daddy?"

"You are!"

"That's right bitch."

Well, maybe not like that, but damn close.

Sorry. I got lost for a second there. What the hell was I talking about? Oh yeah. I was ON FIRE.

I read all of the greens perfectly in that second round. All three players asked me about their putts on every hole. It was so much fun. They would either make the putt or miss it and say, "I pulled/pushed it, but that was a great read."

I do think I'm getting better on the greens, but I also think the fact that I saw a lot of the same putts today (via my 36 hole stint) helped me feel more confident about my lines.

Before I forget, I saw an amazing shot today. And by amazing, I mean that I the shot itself sucked balls, but the swing and contact was something few have seen.

I'm on the 13th hole (my 31st hole) and one of my players pulls out an Adam's "Tight Lies." He looks at the flag, looks at his ball, gives the pin another look, pulls the trigger, and proceeds to hit the ball twice. Now, I know you can pull off this shot with a wedge, and everyone remembers T.C. ("two-chip") Chen, the guy in the Masters one year who double-hit a pitch shot out of the rough on the 15th hole and ended up losing the tournament by a shot (I think that's how the story turned out). Anyway, the ball hits the top of the clubhead, moves up and forward just enough to catch the top of the clubface, and makes contact while the club is on the upswing. The resulting shot went so high in the air we lost it for a second, and it landed about 50 yards ahead of us. He turned to me.

"What the hell was that?"

I've never wanted to laugh so hard in all my life. It was hilarious. But I can't laugh. What will this guy think? And consequently, what will happen to my tip if he sees me cracking a smile?

So I did the best thing I could think of: I turned away and bit down on my towel.

For the rest of the hole I couldn't look at him. I hid small, quiet outbursts of laughter by coughing and licking my lips. I'd bite down on my tongue and think of dead puppies to keep from laughing. Somehow I got through it. Man that was funny to watch.

Surprisingly, the tip was the exact same for both rounds. Guess I improved a little on my second 18. And I am so sore right now. I hope tomorrow is slow. I don't think I can do 36 holes for a couple of days.

By the way, thanks for reading all of this. I know it's a lot. Just can't help myself, ya know?


Anonymous said...

I'm quickly getting addicted to your posts. I just picked up golf a little while back, and I'm actually learning a lot just reading your blog. Great writing style, too!

Jam Boy said...

Well thank you. I'm glad you enjoy it.

Bunker said...

Steve, welcome to the blogosphere. As an OLD caddy, I really appreciate that things haven't changed much.

Jam Boy said...

Well I hope you come back Bunker. I'd like to hear some of the comments you have for me as the summer progresses.

ctowndeb said...

I have just been sitting here reading a few....... and just laughing out loud... very your writing style. very descriptive !!

Anonymous said...

These are great Steveo

snowman said...

keep up the commentary -- love it