Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Big Debut?

This morning was a comedy of errors. Almost 4 hours of my life I’ll never get back. And it all started yesterday.

A Nationwide event is coming through Maryland this week and I heard a few days ago that there might be an opportunity to caddie IN THE ACTUAL EVENT. No more pro-am’s. A real event with a large possible payout for me. Or not. I mean, I could be wrong. I know the Nationwide is a good tour, but I also know there has to be a few guys out there that are just barely living weekend to weekend. I’ve seen the Golf Channel specials. I know the score.

Anyway, I saw my name on the clipboard yesterday with another name and phone number next to it. The words “Nationwide event” lined the bottom of the page. I decided to wait until the Caddie Master arrived, just so I could get the full story before I called.

Remember that caddie Scott from my last post?

Well he came in, went to look at the tee-sheet and saw that note for me.

“Hey Tom? You going to try and get a bag in that Nationwide thing?”

“Yeah. I’m just waiting to hear the rest of the story from the boss-man.”

“Who’s got a cell phone? I’ll call this guy right now. Tom? You got a cell phone?”

“Not on me.”

Within about a minute, he had a cell phone in his hand and started dialing. He left the room. About 10 minutes later he returned with a smile on his face.

“We need to be there at 8 am tomorrow morning.”

(Just as an aside, for the next two days our course will be closed due to aerification.)

“Are we caddying tomorrow?”

“No. From what I understand, we’re just signing up.”

“We have to be all the way up there bright and early just to SIGN UP?”

“Yep.”

“Alright. What the hell.”

And that’s how we left it. I figured hey, if I only have to sign up, I’ll be back by early afternoon and can go on another date with my girlfriend, who I haven’t seen in about a week because of our conflicting schedules. Sweet. I called him later that day to work out the carpooling logistics, and when it was all said and done, he was going to meet me at my apartment around 6 am the following morning.

During the phone call, I slip and fall down half the staircase. As I near the bottom, I somehow manage to slip one of the banister posts in-between my big toe and the rest of my little piggies. Toes bend. When I slam into the wall, I feel like my foot is on fire and I just want to hit something.

“Dude? Are you there? I can’t hear you.”

“…Yeah…I just…dropped the phone.”

“Alright. See you tomorrow.”

“Great. I’m psyched. Crap-nuggets!”

I iced down my foot and crashed about an hour later.

5:15 am: I wake up and run straight into the wall. I never do it on purpose, but it always seems to do the trick. Now I’m alert and ready to caddie. I check the weather and try to make myself look presentable for the meet-and-greet with the Caddie Master. I start humming one of the theme songs to Caddyshack.

6 am: I wait patiently outside to meet up with one of my own personal hero’s: Scott the caddie. Not only is he a great caddie, but he was also a big inspiration for my whole fascination with crack. My phone rings.

“I’ll be there at 6:30.”

Click. No hello. No goodbye. No, “I’ll bring the pipe.” He was just calling to tell me that he couldn’t get up this morning.

6:16 am: He calls again. “Tom, you had better drive yourself. I’m starting to hit some traffic.”

Oh, that’s right. I forgot. Around our neck of the woods, if you’re heading east on a weekday morning, you had better be on the road before 6 am, otherwise you might as well bring a chessboard and “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.

6:22 am: I jump in my car and immediately hit a wall of traffic.

6:50 am: Scott calls again. “Hey, so how do I get there?”

“Take exit 17A off of the beltway and then call me. It’s not far after that.”

“You got it.”

7:46 am: I arrive in the parking lot. I bump into a big dude with golf attire, a towel and a yardage book. I decide to put two and two together.

“Excuse me, are you caddying in this event?”

“Yeah.”

“So what’s with the towel? We’re just signing up today, right?”

“Nope. We’re caddying today. They needed caddies yesterday too, but there weren’t any.”

7:55 am: I’m back in my car dialing Scott. I get an automated message saying, “This is not a valid number.” I have a minor seizure and I poop my pants a little. I haven’t heard from Scott, I haven’t eaten breakfast and I had already made plans for the day. I made an executive decision and started the car.

8:15 am: Hit more traffic. Realize that roads are stupid, cars are stupid and construction is stupid. I see a sign up ahead for my exit. It’s the second of two. The first is on my right, and so, logically, I assume that the following exit—the exit I need to take—will also be on my right. As I reach the top of the next hill I see the exit I need on the LEFT side of the road. I’m four lanes over and miss it completely. I start shouting “IDIOTS” at the top of my lungs.

8:23 am: After pulling off a Tekken-esque combo with my car (left, left, right, left, right, right, jump-kick, punch), I’m finally bearing onto the proper exit and arrive back at my apartment by 9:30.

See, as much as I want to caddie in this event, not having breakfast and missing out on an important date just didn’t fly right with me. Plus, I had worked for a Nationwide guy the day before, and if worse came to worst, I would still come away feeling good about this week.

By noon, I still hadn’t heard from Scott. Maybe he was STILL looking for the golf course. Then my phone started ringing. I didn’t recognize the number. Then again, the last two numbers Scott had used weren’t familiar either. I picked it up.

“Hello?”

“Is this Tom?”

“Yes. Who is this?”

“I’m the Caddie Master over here at the Nationwide event. Are you okay? Scott said you and him left about the same time this morning. He didn’t know if you were dead.”

“Oh. Sorry about that. There was a little misunderstanding. I bumped into another caddie this morning and he told me that I would actually be caddying today. I was told I was merely there to sign up. I already had plans this afternoon I couldn’t break. I hope I didn’t screw you over. I didn’t have your number, and Scott’s phone kept telling me that it didn’t exist.”

“Yeah. Reception can be bad in this area. But Scott already has a bag.”

Pause. Okay…well…good for him.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. So are you out of the picture for this week?”

“No, no. I was really looking forward to working the event. I know I might’ve given you a bad first impression, but I’m really a reliable guy. If you have any spots left, I’m free from tomorrow through Sunday.”

“Okay. Well, right now I think everyone who wants a caddie has one. But if something opens up, I’ll give you a call.”

“Thanks.”

Great. The last thing I wanted was to come off as an unreliable caddie. But I received some bad information yesterday. What could I do? I still felt like an idiot though. After thinking about it, of COURSE it made sense: if you’re trying to pick up a bag, you should get one on Tuesday when the pro is playing his practice round. That way you can get to know each other and he’s not as stressed out as he would be during the actual event. Damn I’m an idiot.

My last two experiences with pro-am’s had been bad. That’s probably why I wanted to leave this morning after the first signs of opposition became visible. Basically, if you’re a mammal with strong shoulders, you can caddie in a pro-am. I’m not trying to discredit or cheapen the experiences of people who have ever caddied in pro-am’s, because hey, it’s still a lot of fun to be with a professional golfer. But from my perspective—having caddied for a while now—I have always seen these events as places where I might be able to gauge my abilities against other caddies. You know—see if I have the talent to caddie on tour someday.

The last two pro-am’s I worked in went as follows: arrive early, nobody knows what is going on, you grab some tees, you ask where the pin sheets are and somebody asks you to speak ENGLISH, and THEN you ask where the yardage booklets are and somebody tells you “that will be $25.” THEN you get the $25 and come back just in time to see the last booklet being sold to a spectator. Now you can’t give yardages because the sprinkler heads all have a code on them that refer to the yardage book. So there you are with a bag on your shoulder, a couple of tees in your pocket and no idea where the first tee is.

Again, I’m a little picky because I’m a perfectionist at heart and I take my job seriously, but when I ran into that caddie this morning I felt chills run up and down my spine. I just didn’t want that whole pro-am experience to happen again. Now, I DID have a great time in those pro-am’s because I was with my Dad and he could give me some slack. But now I’m trying to caddie for a pro in a real tournament. With a real purse. And a real reason for a bad read to get me kicked off of the golf course. The pros probably won’t ask anyway, but hey, you never know.

It’s like that great old analogy Dr. Bob Rotella once used to describe the difference between hitting a 10 foot putt alone compared to hitting a 10 foot putt in front of 1,000 people. It’s like laying a board on the floor and walking across it, and then taking that same board and raising it 40 feet in the air. The simple task of “walking across it” just became a lot harder.

So we’ll see what happens tomorrow. I’m going to get up early and hope he calls me. If not, hey, at least I’ll still have work at my home course on Thursday. But I hope he finds me a spot. That would be an interesting change of pace.

2 comments:

English Dave said...

Evening

Hey, Tom, I would have dropped everything and rushed to get a bag as soon as I had turned up at this other course. Of course, that may be just me being oh-so-wise after the event and also being fortunate enough to be in a solid relationship so that I can feel comfortable calling my lady and telling her that I'm playing golf or doing whatever and knowing that she will still be there when I get back. Where am I going with this? Oh yes. I kind of remember what it's like when you've just started seeing someone and it seems like every moment you spend with them is vital and precious and they're the only ones that you feel like you're, you know, YOU with, so I guess I sympathise with that.

But still ... caddying in a pro event? I'd still take that every time. Of course, caddying would be enough of a novelty to me so that I'm sure it seems like more fun to me than it does to you, and I virtually never get to walk around alongside a pro and see the way they conduct themselves and how they swing and manage a round of golf. So you have the edge on experience in that on me. But still, you could carry for the next big thing. Didn't Jason Gore & Camilo Villegas come out of the Nationwide Tour? I'm not saying that Gore is the next big thing, but I've heard of him. I prefer Camilo, though. He's mental. Christ, I'm going on a bit, here. Do I have a point? I dunno. But if you had caddied for someone (I'm assuming you missed out, here, which might be entirely erroneous) and they had won, they might have asked you to carry on and you might have one day made it to the TOUR. The big show. You never know ... I know it's a hell of a long shot, but it's a chance I would have been willing to take, for the sake of sacrificing breakfast and a date. And, as you say, a player would want to get to know a caddie over a practice round first.

So I guess I should wait to see whether you got a bag or not. If not, pisser. Sorry about that. If you did, good for you. I hope it went great. But I hope you and the girl are still well and happy. I'm going to go now. I've rambled for far too long and completely lost my point.

All the best

David

Jam Boy said...

Your point is never lost, Dave. Always great to hear from you. The biggest name I've caddied for so far (Tour-wise) is Richard Johnson. I caddied for him down in Florida last year. Really funny guy--very vocal when it comes to trying to tell the ball where to go.

Just as an aside--something I've noticed for the pro's I have worked with--they all putt extremely well. From 10 feet and in they make everything without even blinking.

And while I'm talking...I guess I should let you know...this girl I've mentioned in the last couple of posts...we've been dating for over a year now. Without going into too much detail, it's just one of those situations where she's working nights and I'm working days, and it can be tough to spend any time at all together. But you're absolutely right. In any other situation, I would've waited around for a bag in a heartbeat. Ahh women.