Tuesday, April 24, 2007

5 Hours and 45 Minutes of Insanity

Although the golf course is now open 7 days a week, I think many members still consider Monday’s to be closed. That’s all I can figure, because it was 82 and sunny today and all of 5 groups graced the first tee-box.

I was told to arrive at 10 am. This meant sleeping in until 9, which was something I hadn’t done in a long time. There was something so peaceful about sleeping in, coming to work and being sent right out on a loop. With an approximate tee-time of 11, I wouldn’t have to worry about working a double, and I almost felt like celebrating with my token crack pipe. In fact, yes, let me do that. But wait. Before I do, let me just take a look at the tee sheet and make sure that life is in fact perfect.

There’s nobody on the sheet until 12:30. Crap. I was told to come in at 10 just in case there were any “additions.” Double farts.

So once I arrived, I did what every other self-respecting caddie would do if he had to wait around for a while. I fell asleep. But it wasn’t a peaceful sleep. I’ve had to train myself over the last couple of years to be a very light sleeper in the caddie room, because you never know when somebody might throw a golf ball at your bean-bag, a nerf ball at your head, or take a permanent marker and draw a dick on your face.

You wouldn’t really expect that last one, seeing as how this is a “customer-service industry” and there is so much face-to-face interaction required, but I’ve seen it happen. And it’s hard as hell to tell a member what club they should use when you have a giant dong on your face.

So as I went in and out of slumber I caught little pieces of what was going on around me. The radio would buzz and blast out info about members arriving. A caddie would chime in and ask, “Any more additions?” No. I’d wake up 20 minutes later to find a card game going on. Twenty-minutes or so after that I heard one of the caddies taking food orders for lunch. I decided I wasn’t hungry, so I kept sleeping.

After about an hour of nodding off, I decided to get up and interact. You know, just hang out. I tossed the nerf ball around with another caddie, I bought a diet coke, took a few sips and talked with our resident conspiracy-theorist about what ACTUALLY happened to building 7 on September 11th, 2001. And then, after hearing the theory for the 34th time, I decided to go to the bathroom.

You might think all this fluff about my activities is somewhat pointless, but I’m trying to paint a little picture before the rest of my day unfolded. Basically, up until this point, I was just lounging around and feeling very relaxed.

So now here I am—relaxed and ever so content on the John—when there’s a knock on the door.

“Someone’s in here.”

Just in case the locked door wasn’t dropping any hints.

“Tom? You in there?”

“Yeah. What?”

“You’re on the tee! Just pinch it off and let’s go!”

There was laughter in the background.

“Be right out.”

The lounging around was over. Now I’m flying. In the last 30 minutes, the Caddie Master had to have walked by me at least 20 times. Couldn’t he have dropped some sort of hint? I WOULD’VE been ready. Oh well. I ran outside to see what the hell was going on.

“Who the hell do I have today?”

“You’ll be caddying with Tony. You’re both taking this foursome on carts. Easy job today.”

“Thanks.”

There was, of course, one thing he left out. This foursome consisted of guests belonging to a particularly cheap member. Not only that, but his groups are always slow. So if you add all of these factors together—a slow group, a bad tip expectation, the fact that there are two caddies doing the job that ONE caddie could easily handle—you’ve got two SERIOUSLY unmotivated caddies working for you. And that’s not good.

But every caddie in the yard knows about this loop. It happens 4-5 times a season, and the Caddie Master rotates the caddies’ assigned so the same 2-4 caddies aren’t constantly being screwed. And I hate to put it that way, because honestly, I still have a lot of respect for this profession and I will always try my hardest to do the best job I can REGARDLESS of pay, but once the round exceeds 4 hours and 45 minutes, my brain shuts off and I start going into hysterics.

Fortunately, the guys we were working with today were very nice. Always cracking jokes and were quite receptive to any advice we were giving them. Then again, there were definitely a few things that started to bug me and the other caddie after a while.

Take yardages for example. There was one player in the group who truly believed that he could hit his pitching-wedge 150 yards. I myself have never swung an oversized “Prince” iron before, but I would imagine they behave much like other golf clubs on the market today. I mean, they have to abide by certain natural laws. Like physics, for example. Now, if I STEP on my PW, 1 out of 10 times I’ll hit it 140. Tops. That’s de-lofting the face, putting it back in my stance, and trying to hit it like it was a 7-iron.

On the 11th hole Mr. Smokesalottacrack was 148 yards from the flag. So, naturally, he grabbed his PW because “that’s a perfect yardage for it.” He ended up 40 yards short in the greenside bunker.

“Must’ve been some wind up there.”

Oh yes, absolutely. Or it could’ve just been reality saying howdy-doody.

One of the other players in the group hit his drive so far on the first hole I thought he was a Long-Drive Champion from Vegas. The first hole is around 365, and he was 20 yards off of the green, PUTTING from the fairway after his tee shot. His follow-thru looked like Sammy Sosa belting another home run. He fell back on his right foot after every swing. Even his putts.

The two remaining players were Mr. Right and Mr. Wrong. They switched names religiously throughout the round. First, one would be in the fairway and the other would be in the rough. Then vice-versa. Then they’d both be in the trap, smash their 3WD’s into the lip and wonder why they didn’t clear it.

“It’s like their swings are randomized and they’re never really sure what will happen. And did you see how Mr. Smokesalottacrack putts? It’s like Kramer entering Seinfeld’s apartment.”

Ah Tony. He made that comment when we were on the 7th hole and the group ahead of us had pulled 2 holes ahead. Neither of us could figure out what to say or do to speed these guys up. They just seemed perfectly content NOT knowing what time it was. Tony and I started placing bets on where their tee-shots would end up.

“He’s going way right into the shit over there.”

“I think he’ll try, but his ball really just wants to end up in the bunker BEFORE the shit.”

The ball ended up just out of the bunker in-between the sand and the hazard line. So we were both wrong. But it was funny how well we were getting to know our players’ golf games. I imagine forecasting the stock market is much easier to do than figure out where Mr. Smokesalottacrack got his stash and why he thinks he can consistently hit a PW 150 yards. I hate to keep coming back to this. But my GOD: 150 yards? If that were true, they WHY have more than like 5 irons in your bag? That would mean you could hit your 5 iron like 220. In fact, why carry woods at all? You’d just need 3-5 irons, a wedge or two and your putter.

“I’m really a better skier than I am a golfer.”

THEN WHY CLAIM YOU CAN HIT A PW 150 YARDS BUTT-WIPE!?

Alright. Sorry. Just had to get that out.

The 8th hole is a long uphill par 5. From a caddies’ perspective, it’s one of 4 or 5 holes that will occasionally piss you off because it can be quite difficult to follow a tee shot as the tee boxes are elevated slightly higher than where you stand in forecaddie position. So if a player hits the ball high enough, you can miss the ball completely. This can prove to be a little challenging when it comes to hand signals. If you didn’t see where the ball ended up, but you can tell that the player is staring at you from the tee-box with a deep and burning desire to know WHERE the hell his ball just ended up, you’ve got problems. I normally make some sort of half-assed sign that could be interpreted as more than one just to make sure I’m not wrong when we finally DO determine where the ball is. I know that’s a bit of a cop out, but as a caddie, the golden rule is to NEVER lose a players’ ball. So I like to try and adhere to that rule as often as possible.

So Mr. Smokesalottacrack hits a line drive, right at us. But it takes me a second to figure out where it is because when the ball initially deflected off of the club-face, its figure is masked by the sunlight bouncing off of the trees behind the players. When I finally do pick it up, I realize it’s heading right for us. I mean RIGHT for us.

“It’s heading right for us, Tony.”

As soon as I realized I was out of its possible flight path I turned to see if Tony was going to be alright. He hadn’t moved yet. He was in an athletic position, knees flexed, staring down the ball to try and anticipate where it might go. He wasn’t sure if he should dive right or left. Everything seemed to move in slow motion.

The ball struck the ground about 15 yards short of him. He made a split decision and immediately ducked and rolled to his left. The ball was ripping through the air with that characteristic buzzing noise as the ball rotated at Solar-system-esque-insane-freakin’-speeds. Just as Tony’s head was about even with his waist, the ball flew just over his back and careened off of a tree, coming to rest 30 yards further left in the rough. It was like watching the first Matrix movie.

“Wow. You okay Tony?”

“Yeah. Man, I could HEAR that thing go over me.”

Honestly, if Tony hadn’t ducked and rolled when he did, that ball would’ve hit him square in the chest. Whew.

Mr. Smokesalottacrack drove up shortly thereafter. “The guys were telling me to yell ‘fore’ but I figured you guys are caddies. You should be watching the ball anyway.”

Yes, but at those speeds you’re just lucky Tony has the reflexes of a cat, otherwise I don’t think he would’ve made it.

“Yeah.”

“I mean, I actually AIMED at you guys, figuring my ball would slice like it normally does. But it didn’t.”

“Uh-huh. You have about 346 yards left, uphill and into the wind. You also need to hit it low to keep it underneath these initial tree branches. Sounds like a pitching-wedge to me.”

“That’s amazing. How did you know I wanted that club?”

Just expecting the unexpected, sir.

By the time we reached the 16th hole, Tony informed me that we had already crossed the 5 hour mark on our round with these fine gentlemen. Upon hearing the news, a switch was tripped in my brain and I immediately found humor in everything around me. A bird chirped and I almost crapped my pants I was laughing so hard.

Just as the first player was about to tee off and actually get our group MOVING in the right direction again, Mr. Long-drive chimed in: “Wait a minute. Should we bet something on this shot? I think we should.”

I started laughing again. I turned away and tried to think of dead Sea Otters and oil spills and Martha Stewart in jail.

“Yeah. Closest to the pin, $5 a man.”

Oh, the setup was perfect. I wanted so badly to turn to Tony and say, “Alright guys. $5 a man, closest to the GREEN.” I started laughing again, because I mean hell, I just said it in my head and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. I couldn’t even look at Tony without laughing. Were these guys kidding? I mean come on, I always want to support players getting better and I never like making fun of people who are struggling with their golf games. But honestly, once you cross that 5-hour barrier on a round of golf, you should be asked to leave. I don’t care if you’re a good golfer or a bad golfer. Just grab your stuff and get the hell out. I am no longer responsible for my actions. I suppose if you're stuck behind a group the whole day, then playing a round in over 5 hours can be understandable. But if you have the whole golf course to yourself? It's inexcusable.

Out of the 4 shots, ONE landed on the green. So I was wrong. He was 87 feet away. I’m sure that was a world-record or something.

And when we finally reached the clubhouse after 5 hours and 45 minutes, all I remember doing is absentmindedly shaking their hands and saying I had to go. There were no pleasantries left in me. I was just grateful I wasn’t going out with them tomorrow. My heart goes out to those caddies.

3 comments:

New Texan said...

Just wanted to drop a quick comment... been reading this for a while now, and wanted to let you know it is one of the best blogs out there. Great stories, great writing.

Jam Boy said...

That really means a lot. Thanks so much for leaving the comment, texan. I hope to keep you coming back for more.

English Dave said...

Evening

I wish I could play on Mondays. Most days, for that matter. I'm thinking, with the membership for your course being as it is, most members can probably play whenever the hell they like, but most of them still work to keep themselves in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. And Mondays are When. Things. Get. Done. I bet the longer the week goes on, the busier it gets. It sounds lovely, though. I would jack work in and play all the time, once I'd made my first few million and live off the interest.

Wasn't it in that bloody awful chick flick thing that was a crappy modern remake of "The Taming of the Shrew" (that's Shakesperare, what?) (talking of Shakespeare, that bit in "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka" where they have the Pimp of the Year Awards and the Huggy Bear dude is reciting his poetry "My whore better have my money/Not half, not some, but all my cash/'Cause if she don't,/I'm gonna put my foot in her ass" and some guy in the audience goes "That's motherfucking Shakespeare" ... makes me laugh) Where was I? Oh yeah, whatever that film was called and they drew a giant dong on some guy's face. That's what I was picturing. "I believe your 7 iron would be the club for you here, sir" "Piss off, cocksucker"

I can't pinch one off when I'm in mid-flow. Once I've started, I've got to get all of the bugger out or it's worse than if I hadn't gone at all.

I can hit my PW 140 ... but not always in the right direction. Or even in any direction. I have, though, discovered an infallible method for increasing distance on the short irons. Hit the ball with the leading edge of the club just below the equator of the ball. It goes like a chuffing rocket, then, about 3 feet off the floor and 40 yards further than you normally hit it. Just right to crush someone's hoo-jahs should they get in the way.

When that guy did his Sammy Sosa impression, did he also do a couple of little sideways skip steps as he started walking after his ball? That would be cool. Although, even better would be like Ricky Henderson used to do and just toss his bat away at someone as soon as he hit it. But I always loved watching Ken Griffey Jr hit - he is poetry in motion. What? It's not a baseball blog? Oh.

5 hours 45 is far too long for a round of golf. I could go round twice in that time, in the right company. In a cart, obviously. My tummy is too big to inflict that upon my tootsies, back to back. Once I go beyond 4 hours (and even that is 30 minutes too long for a round) I lose the will to live and I just want to be out of there and off the course as quickly as possible. Perhaps it might be different if I played Augusta or Pebble Beach, but come on, guys. What are you doing out there? Just 'cos you see the top 10 in the world doing it when Majors are at stake, doesn't mean Joe Q. 14-24 handicapper should do it on a Saturday morning when you're playing for a quid.

Who's Martha Stewart? Is she Rod Stewart's mother?

I've said enough. Take care, Tom and KYN.

David