Friday, October 06, 2006

Dave Pelz's Whipping Boy

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I am giving up energy drinks. I’ve been clean for about two weeks now, and regardless of whether I wake up each morning in a cold sweat or I get the shakes trying to tend FLAGS I want to see how I deal without my beloved Full Throttle. I’ve been hearing a lot of scary things about energy drinks recently—such as massive amounts of these dangerous ingredients called “sugar” and “taurine”—and I wanted to see if I could kick the habit before I got diabetes. A worthwhile goal, right?

Or, I could always just keep drinking them and see if in fact the taurine DOES promote mutations in your DNA so that your children run a higher risk of coming out with 7 middle fingers. I’m not saying that would be a TERRIBLE thing to have happen, but I think one or two is plenty.

I’m not sure if it has been the lack of caffeine or the amount of crack I’ve been smoking, but my inadequacies in green-reading surfaced again today and I need to get out some of my frustration.

My day started at noon. I sat in the caddie room eating my 2 pounds of meatloaf, potatoes, steamed vegetables and mac and cheese from the local grocery store. Just as my lower intestine started singing “Amazing Grace,” one of the other caddies started bitching.

“Man, this sucks. I’m going to get RAPED for the next two days.”

There was a pause, and then he realized I was too busy pounding down meatloaf to respond. So he took the initiative and decided to continue.

“The loops we’re all going out on. It’s going to be the same people for two days. Today they’re all playing 18, and tomorrow they’re playing 36. Three shitty tips. I just better get a good fucking tip on Wednesday, that’s all I can say.”

That’s when my lower intestine started its own bass guitar solo. Crap. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m all for taking a few bad loops for the team, but after the last few days I was just too tired to work hard again for nothing. Oh well. It’ll all average out in the end I guess.

So after I finished eating, I got my towel and started stretching my hamstrings in preparation for the raping I was about to receive when the Caddie Master called me out a little earlier than I expected.

“You’re up now Tom. You’re going out with Mr. Stooge-Bag. You really owe me one.”


“You really owe me one. You’re going to need an…armored TRUCK to take your tip out of here.”

Well. Never heard that one before. An armored truck you say? HELLO Mr. Stooge-Bag. And I had the added bonus of an easy loop, too. A twosome on a cart. Doesn’t get any easier than that.

I ran over the hill, took off my hat and extended a hand to introduce myself.

“Hey Mr. Stooge-Bag. Good to meet you. I’m Tom.”

“So do you know what you’re doing today?”

That took me by surprise. I quickly ran through every introduction I’ve ever had on the golf course and came to the conclusion that he must be expecting a sarcastic response. But in looking at his expression, I was at a loss for words because he looked very serious and sad. Like a little kid who just witnessed his Dad take the final slice of pie from the kitchen. But of course to Mr. Stooge-Bag, I probably looked like I was mentally challenged because I was just staring at him, allowing for a little drool to escape my lips. He couldn’t hear the inner turmoil in my brain (or the inner turmoil in my pants) as I tried to figure out what the hell to say. So he spoke first.

“You know how to fix divots, rake bunkers, read greens?”


“Oh yeah. Of course.”

Wow. That comment hurt my brain. Not only did this guy look like a combination between a linebacker and Moe from the “Three Stooges,” but his baggy eyes kept calling to me, saying, “For the love of God…somebody just GLUE the toupee on my skull because I’m tired of readjusting it.” I hate bad first impressions.

But regardless of the introduction, this member was supposed to be important, so that meant only one thing: I had to be flawless on the greens. And you guys know me. When a challenge like that arises, I usually choke with Norwood-esque flair.

The first few greens were alright. They didn’t make their putts, but if they had hit them just a little harder, they would have. So far, so good. And I even raked their bunkers correctly! Yay!

But on the fourth hole I made my first mistake. The guest told me he saw the putt a ball out on the left side. For the first three greens, we had seen eye-to-eye on every putt. So, instead of taking a look from BOTH sides of the hole, I simply glanced at the line he suggested and agreed with him. At a quick glance, the line he had looked good. He struck the putt, and it was then that I heard one of the worst phrases a caddie can hear: “Wow. It broke the other way.”

The putt actually broke LEFT. I quickly moved behind his original line and immediately saw my mistake. A subtle ridge held the ball up and eventually kicked it left. That’s alright Tom. Confidence my boy! Fortunately, I hadn’t screwed up a read for the member yet. Yet. But then again, chinks in the armor were now visible.

The 5th hole proved to be simple enough, all I really had to do was use a club to hold on Mr. Stooge-Bag’s toupee as he hit his approach shot and he was smiling like a little baby. But then came the 6th. The pin was front right, tucked behind a greenside bunker. Based on past experiences, the putt the member had broke SEVERELY to the left. But again, instead of really looking at all of the subtle contours of the green, I just pointed at a spot about 5 feet right of the hole, assuming that the member was just going to lag the putt close to the hole anyway.

“Really? You see the putt swinging THAT much?”

“Yeah. The last 5 feet pushes the ball dead left.”

He didn’t really hit his putt hard enough, but then again, by hitting the putt like a wuss-bag, the maximal amount of break in any given putt will be exposed. He left his putt about 4 feet short, and the ball still hadn’t broken an INCH.

He just stared at me. He walked over to his ball and proceeded to miss his next putt. He quickly grabbed his ball, walked back to ground zero and threw it back down on the putting surface to try out my line again, this time with better speed. He played the ball out about 3 feet right of the hole instead of 5. The putt didn’t break at all until the last 4 feet or so, where it went dead left. He lipped out. An awkward silence hung over the green as he reached down again, threw his ball to me and just smiled.

“ were right…I…I knew the putt broke hard left, but it didn’t break quite as much as I said it would.”

What? Clear your throat and stop sounding like a pussy Tom.

I usually like to concede my misgivings on the golf course because then the players can get it all out in the open and move on. Most of the other caddies would’ve told him that he pushed his putt and didn’t hit it hard enough, and THAT was why he missed it. But I don’t believe in doing it that way. For some reason I like apologizing. I think it’s because I believe that if I can convince the member the missed putt was MY fault, they won’t lose any confidence in their putting stroke and I can continue to rely on a consistent pace for my reads. If the player feels like it was their fault, they’ll usually start messing with their putting stroke mid-round and then it’s almost impossible for me to read greens correctly for them, because I have no idea how hard they may hit their next putt. But I think the fact that I stuttered and didn’t really look the member in the eye made Mr. Stooge-Bag question my seniority. My suspicions were confirmed on the next hole.

“So how long have you been working out here, Tom?”

“I’m finishing up my second season.”



“Yeah…I started here last March, went down to Florida last winter, and came back in August to finish out the season.”

“That’s weird because I don’t ever remember seeing you out here.”

In retrospect, I probably should’ve just played it off like I was brand new. That would’ve eased the tension I had created on the last hole with that horrific read and he would’ve been fine with letting me try my luck on the greens. That always helped me out when I first started caddying. But by saying I was quite experienced I think I made him a little uncomfortable. You mean…you’ve worked out here this long and you STILL don’t know how to read these greens? What are you, retarded?


The rest of the round was just painful. The more I hustled, the less he talked to me. It was as if he was trying to tell me, “Just give up. You’re no good at this and seeing you try this hard just makes me sad. I mean look at my droopy eyes. I looked like Brad Pitt before this round started and NOW look at me.”

On the 18th green after your round is over it is customary to take off your hat, shake hands and thank each other for a fun round of golf. It’s my favorite part of the round. Usually. Today, Mr. Stooge-Bag did not shake my hand or even look at me when we finished 18. He simply went into his wallet, gave me a great tip and said: “When you learn how to read greens, I’ll double that.”

His partner replied, “What? You gave him that money because you feel sorry for him?”

“He’ll make a hell of a caddie someday when he gets those greens down.”

And I think that bug will finally unearth itself from your rectum when you finally invest in a glue-stick to hold that little fuzz-ball to the top of your head.

All in all, I’m not really sure how I should react to today’s round. On the one hand, I want to HIT something for the member making me feel like an idiot. On the other hand, I respect him for pointing out that yes, I suck at reading greens sometimes and yes, you were right for not giving me an amazingly generous tip. But I still feel like an idiot either way.


Sean said...

So the most important question... did you get to splatter paint the half way house shitter or did you manage to hold to colon grumble for 4 hours!

Seriously though, he sounded like a good guy in that he still tipped you well and told you what you had to do to improve. Of course you already knew what you did wrong, but he knew that you busted your butt out there and still tipped you appropriately. I'd say in a month or so, loop him again and prove to him that you had an off day (or that you're still need glasses :D)

Anonymous said...

Sean is right. The combination of his irregular putting and your occasional mis reads were deadly. To his credit though, he didn't say you were a bad caddy, he just encouraged you (financially) to get better at reading greens.

Frustrating...but fair.

Anonymous said...

JB, according to what you wrote, both of those misreads were because you got lazy on the the greens. THAT was why you felt the need to apologize. Good thing Stooge-man has money to burn. Otherwise you'd ghave gotten the tip you deserved.