Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bad Report

Every caddie knows the score. No matter how hard you work, no matter how hard you try to please, there will be loops that do not go well. Now I'm not talking about caddying for assholes, slow players or bad tippers. I'm talking about the caddie. Sometimes you're an "A" caddie, and sometimes you're a "C" caddie. You have no choice but to hit a wall at some point. It is inevitable. Why oh why did this have to happen to me NOW.

I just moved to Florida about a week ago. I was promoted to be the Assistant Caddie Master at this new course. This new account is a very exclusive club with some of the nicest members I've ever encountered. In addition, the administrative staff has been nothing but supportive and courteous to me since I arrived. And my first few loops were great. I was energetic, eager to learn the course, and was able to hold conversations with the members without breaking a sweat.

Well, yesterday I broke a sweat.

I was one of two caddies working with a group of women. One of the bags' I was carrying just happened to belong to the wife of a founding member. She had requested me from one of my previous loops. But there was something wrong. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to get my energy up. I felt like I was on cruise control the whole round. I would try running with both bags for 150 yards, I would jump up and down with them on my shoulders (nobody except for the other caddie saw me do this...I imagine I would've looked like an idiot), I would stretch, I would try being as up-beat and polite as possible, trying to fall back on some of my sales training that taught me to use my actions and gestures as a way to entice the mind to follow. So if I'm tired and depressed but I start acting jovial and enthusiastic, soon I will be happy rather than depressed. At least that was the theory. And it didn't work. Nothing did.

On the second hole I completely misread a putt for one of my players, and so on the third hole the other caddie (who had been caddying at this course for awhile) took the lead and started reading everybody's putts. At first I was a little annoyed, but then after hearing one of my players request a read from HIM rather than ME, I decided it was for the best. I mean hey, I want my players to get the right reads.

This went on for the rest of the round. Sure, I would occasionally offer a read, and I was even right a few times. But during the round I couldn't help but feel like the other caddie was losing respect for me. I started to feel like I was on one of my first training loops, with a senior caddie making sure I wasn't screwing anything up. I also noticed for some reason that I couldn't seem to project my voice. It was like I was stuck being the shy kid for a day. I hated that. I was so desperate to get out of that mindset, that I even tried to start little conversations with the woman who requested me, saying stupid things like, "So where are you from? What brought you down here? Oh I love Boston. Quincy Markets all the way."

It was horrible. I've never felt so undeserving of tip money at the end of the round. It wasn't much, but I didn't feel like I deserved any of it. I knew the loop had gone sour. But I took solace in the fact that hey, every caddie will have a bad day.

Well I learned this morning that yes, every caddie will have a bad day, but NO, that no longer applies to me. Now, I am an Assistant Caddie Master. I need to be setting an example and showing my strength.

Today is the first round of the Ladies' Member-Guest. I arrived right on time feeling as prepared as ever to avenge my debacle from yesterday. I had breakfast in hand, my special Peak Vision sunglasses on my hat, and I was sipping a Full Throttle energy drink. If my past experiences were any indication, that Full Throttle would kick my ass into gear and my problems would be over.

Well, my boss is in town. He's been here since last week, sleeping on my couch and going to the course everyday to make sure the caddie program goes off without a hitch. I was wetting a towel getting ready for my hole assignment when he walks down into the caddie yard and motions for me to follow him. He takes me into the Caddie Master's office and shuts the door.

"What's this I hear about you not being able to read greens?"

"Yeah. Yesterday was--"

"I walk in this morning and I hear from the Director that these women went out yesterday and were annoyed that they had an untrained caddie working for them."

"Well, I--"

"No, just be quiet for a minute. You're the Assistant Caddie Master. You've BEEN trained. Read the fucking greens. I know you're trying to do the noble thing by letting a senior caddie read the greens, but you're showing nothing but weakness. You need to be strong. Read the fucking greens."

And then he walked back outside and left me to think. I felt like absolute crap. Ever since I started working for him, I have never been reprimanded. He never had to. There were never any complaints from any of the members I've looped for. And NOW that I'm helping to manage a caddie program, a position I thought I would fill nicely, I just happen to have a bad day around a highly critical member and an experienced caddie (who's probably wondering why the hell he should listen to a dumbass caddie like me) and all of my credibility goes out the window. I'm sure I made my boss look horrible. The caddie I worked with has probably even talked to a few of the other caddies and dragged my name through the mud by now.

About 5 minutes later, the Caddie Master, a kid my age who I've become pretty good friends with, pulls me aside.

"The boss thinks you should take today off. Is that cool?"

"Yeah...I mean, whatever I can do to help you guys out. I told you it was a bad loop yesterday. I guess I just didn't realize HOW bad. I'm sorry man."

"Just go home and get some rest. I'll talk to you later tonight."

Jesus. I'm being sent home. My first truly bad loop since I started in March and they're sending me home to sleep it off and think about what I've done. Man, talk about a hole I've gotten myself into. That quote from "Batman Begins" keeps running through my head.

"Son, why do we fall? So we learn how to pick ourselves back up."

I need to think about this for a little while. I think one of my problems right now is that I'm looking at this experience through the eyes of a caddie and not a MANAGER. My whole life, in almost every job I've ever had, I've been an equal with my co-workers. I've been a manager once before, and to be honest, I don't really think I did a good job. I always wanted to be everyone's friend. Not sure how I can change my mindset, because I hate feeling like I'm superior to anyone else. Then again, I really REALLY hate being stepped on. I hate being taken advantage of. I don't know. Maybe I can use that frustration and anger to be a better manager.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far. I'm always trying to shorten these posts up, but I always seem to have a lot on my mind. I'll let you guys know how tomorrow goes.


last minute tee times said...

don't forget about that cheap tee times i showed you earlier Jam Boy.. next time use it so we have no problems getting a cheap tee times

cheap tee times said...

don't forget about that cheap tee times i showed you earlier Jam Boy.. next time use it so we have no problems getting a cheap tee times

dave said...

Not sure what to say but I do question the idea that all the members there are so nice and sweet. I just haven't seen that any where here in Florida and I have been here for over 30 years. Good luck and I am sure it will get better for you.
From the other two comments here I think it is time for you to turn on the word verification thing.

Anonymous said...

Quit being a wimp! If a chick jumps in your bed, lay the pipe!

Shanks said...

We all have bad days like that one, JB. Don't want to get too philosphical here but you can either let this hurt you or help you. While painful at first, situations like this are invaluable in your personal growth. Winners in life look for ways to use it to their advantage. And I expect you will do that.

Anonymous said...

Chin up, JB. You know you're a good caddy. We know you're a good caddy. There's no way someone could put in the effort, the thought, and the care that you do into your job and NOT be good at it. Everyone has an off day, and this just happened to be yours.

J.R. said...

I suspect this is merely the beginning of the symptoms caused by an infectious disease given to you by the little tweaker chick.

Remember when you said she was talking to some other guy in the bar and said she would find her own way home? Well. The guy was obviously a 30plus handicapper, and now you can't read greens.

The connection is irrefutable.

Jam Boy said...

You might be onto something there j.r. And as far as turning on the word verification thing, I think you're right dave. I always enjoy reading anonymous comments, but stupid posts like those shouldn't appear here. Hey "last minute tee times"...I WILL FORGET ABOUT YOUR AD.

mediaguru at said...

JAM BOY. You gotta delete that spam shit before it even starts. If you leave it, they'll just post more and more.

Now is it cool to actually apologize to your client? "Man I'm sorry I misread that putt. That was my bad. My reading is a little off today."

Or is that not cool in the caddie world?

Robert Thompson said...

Jam Boy: I feel for you, my man. But at the same time it sounds like you are making some inroads in the caddy world. Any chance to play at this new track? Are they open to caddies playing?

Jam Boy said...

Yes, as unbelievable as it sounds, the caddies get 3 play days a week at this track. That's amazing. I couldn't even get 1 in the 4-5 months I worked at the last course. And the bonus for me, being the assistant, is that I can play 7 days a week if I wanted to. I'm still kind of reeling from that one.

As far as apologizing for a bad read, that's totally cool in the caddie world. Well, it's cool up to a point. If you're apologizing more than 3 or 4 times a round, there's a serious problem. But a couple apologies can actually help your tip. Every golfer I've ever encountered loves the honesty.