Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Big Name

I’m toast. I think I’ve racked up doubles every day for the past week. At this point, my neck is burned, my feet feel like they’re broken and I think I’ve consumed more pain medication than Keith Richards. But, I also have cabbage falling out of my pockets. And that always feels great.

I’ve actually been depressed lately because I haven’t had the time or energy to write. So much has happened to me and I go to sleep every night pissed off because I haven’t been able to tell anyone about it. I’ve started working on a rather massive post which includes 3-4 of my last 7 days, but it’s not quite finished yet and I’ve decided that I have to get this post off of my chest first. Yesterday something pretty significant happened. I caddied for a big name.

Now, in my caddying career thus far I’ve been fortunate. I’ve caddied for several big names, but most of them are so obscure that only a die hard politician or a crazed sports fan would know who any of them are. In fact, many of them were just regular people to me until the Caddie Master pulled me aside after the loop and said something like, “He used to be the CEO of this,” or “He helped get the President out of that.” I’ve been keeping a list and at some point I want to release all of the names, but I haven’t quite figured out when the right time for that would be.

So for now I’ll start with one name. Peyton Manning.

It started out as any other day. The only exception was that I knew I was working a double. The tee sheet looked rabid, and I was hoping to get my double over with quickly. Kind of like a flu shot. Because there’s nothing worse than working an early loop, sitting around for a few hours and then going out late in the afternoon to complete your 36 hole stint.

I was sent out fairly early with Mr. Nice-Guy, the first member to ever request me. He would be playing with Mr. Aussie, another cool member who gave me one of my biggest tips back in 2005. Somehow they knew each other, and that was just fine by me.

A “shadow” would be joining us. Yes, I know. Shadows tend to do that. But this “shadow” was a new recruit, and up until this point he had only been working valet. So his golf knowledge was a little on the slow side. A nice kid though. Eager to learn. Reminded me of me 2 years ago.

Anyway, Mr. Nice-Guy and Mr. Aussie were very easy to caddie for, but they certainly made the “shadow” work a little harder than he was used to.

“Hey Shadow, why don’t you rake that bunker so Tom doesn’t have to?”

“Oh, no, that’s alright Mr. Nice-Guy. I can get it for you.”

“Nonsense. These new trainees have to learn somehow.”

True, but I don’t like people doing the work for me. I feel like I’m not doing my job. Besides, I’ve been on loops with “shadows” before, and there were times when the other caddie in the group would really take advantage of the wee shadow. I remember one loop where the shadow carried two bags for 14 holes. Pretty amazing considering he had never even carried ONE before. I’m not saying I’m anywhere NEAR that by asking a shadow to rake a bunker, but I still get a little gun-shy of making them do things for me. I mean come on: I’m the one getting tipped kid. Just take it easy. You’ll be working hard soon enough.

But Mr. Nice-Guy kept after him.

“Come on now! Grab this bag! You know Tom, I don’t know what the training procedures are, but I feel like these new guys have to learn the pop-pop-pop that’s expected of them right away. Can’t take it easy on them.”

Alright, why not? Keep raking bitch!

So that was the first loop. Very easy, very comfortable. I’m in my safe zone. But 5 minutes after I set the bags down up top, the Caddie Master approached me.

“You want to caddie for Peyton Manning?”

I froze. Now, I knew that Peyton Manning had played here the day before, and I also knew the two caddies who went with him. Very strong guys. One of the caddies had been regularly assigned to Michael Jordan when he had been a regular visitor. So I just had to wonder why I was offered this loop. I mean, both of the caddies assigned to Peyton yesterday were here today. The Caddie Master picked up on my confusion immediately.

“One of the caddies fucking tells me AFTER the first 18 that he can’t work the second 18. Why didn’t he tell me that this morning? That would’ve been nice to know. So what’ll it be? You up for it?”

I had a date at 7. I figured hey, if I’m a little late, she’ll understand once I explain myself.

“Well, you can’t really turn down a loop with Peyton Manning, can you?”

And with that, I ran inside to stuff half a sandwich down my throat. I would eat the other half on the way out. Apparently the course was a little busy this morning so Peyton’s group started on 6. So I hopped in the cart and started thinking about how I’d react. Could I keep my cool? Take it easy Tom. He’s just a regular guy. A regular guy with a Super Bowl ring.

“The head pro is playing in the group. So don’t do anything stupid.”

Oh, okay. So I should refrain from shitting my pants and babbling like an idiot?

When we arrived, I hung back near the cart for a moment as they all putted out on 6 (they were just starting their second 18 of the day). It’s funny how when you meet a celebrity you tend to forget how to do almost everything while you’re around them. I turned to the Caddie Master.

“So…should I wait for you to introduce me?”

He just stared at me.

“No. I’d thought you’d handle that. Need me to take off your cap for you too?”

Crap. I haven’t even met the man yet and I’m screwing up. I watched him line up a putt as the caddie offered him the read. Freakin’ great. Green reading. Awesome. I get nervous reading putts for Joe Schmoe. They’ll probably need to get the paddles out for me on 7, because I’m going down.

They all finished putting out and walked over to their carts on the other side of the green. Okay. I guess I won’t be meeting the man yet. The caddie I was replacing ran over and hopped in the cart. The Caddie Master just shook his head.

“What the hell do you have going on tonight?”

“I have an appointment at 5.”

“Dumbass.”

And they drove off. The remaining caddie ran over and slapped me on the shoulder.

“It’s you and me buddy. You’ve got Peyton. He’s in the yellow shirt back there.”

Oh, you mean the 6’5, 230 pound beast who’s towering over everyone on the tee-box? Yeah, I got it. And might I just say: Holy CRAP. The other caddie looked awful. Burnt to a crisp, starving and worn out. He was running on empty. This was his 12th double in a row. Tack on a big name and the head pro watching your every move, and we’re talking one over-worked horse. His name is Scott, and I think he’s my new hero.

“Hey Scott, how you holdin’ up?”

“It’s funny, but at this point, I’m almost used to working doubles now.”

It was a fivesome. The member, Peyton, two of his buddies and the head pro. I watched as Peyton flew it over my head into the left rough. I didn’t even see the other tee shots. I only saw the head pro’s because it almost hit me. It was like I had tunnel vision now and the only person I could focus on was Mr. Manning.

The head pro drove over to me first.

“Make sure you take care of Peyton.”

No shit?

“You got it. Your ball is back over behind those trees pro.”

“Thanks.”

And, after dropping off the member at his ball, Peyton Manning drove across the fairway with an outstretched hand.

“Hey, how are you? I’m Peyton.”

“Hey Mr. Manning. I’m Tom. Good to meet you.”

“Do I have a shot over here?”

I always hate this question when I first meet a golfer. I don’t know his skill level. For a single digit handicap, his ball was playable. For a higher handicapper, taking the safe play would be better. So I just decided to go with a generic answer.

“Yeah.”

He parked his cart and I saw him immediately frown.

“Aww crap. I got nothing.”

DAMN. Alright, no worries, I’ll figure this guy out.

“What’s the yardage?”

“142 front and 166 pin.”

Man this guy is huge. I can’t even imagine how big the linebackers have to be in order to sack this guy. Suddenly, the pro’s ball screamed over my head. I ducked and closed my eyes. Whew. Missed me. The head pro drove over.

“Hey Tom? Where’d that go?”

FUCK. I have no idea.

“Just over the right side of the green.”

Okay, so I just made that up. I hope to God I’m right. If not, Peyton obviously has reason to doubt my credibility. Peyton then took two quick practice swings and chunked his ball further into the trees.

“Awww Peyton you JERK!”

But he got up onto the green soon enough. And as our group started to surround the green, the head pro drove around the right side looking for his ball.

“So Tom? Where did you say this was?”

I just stared at him. Just as I was about to open my mouth to allow bullshit to flow freely into the air, one of the other players cut me off.

“It’s right over here pro.”

Amazing. Just over the right side of the green. How the freakin’ crap-noodles was I able to guess that? Well, I guess that’s just one more I owe the man upstairs.

Now we were all on the green. After I fixed a few ball marks to make the head pro relax his sphincter muscle a bit, I approached Peyton as he was looking over his putt.

“So what’s this do?”

Oh man. Here we go.

“I’m seeing a cup outside right. Right here.”

I pointed, he aimed, fired and missed. He missed the putt by about a cup out on the right. Granted, he was 4 feet by the hole, but I’m sure he must’ve thought I screwed up.

“Peyton you JERK! Just BLASTED that one.”

Okay, maybe not. He threw me his ball to clean as we stepped off of the green to let the others finish out the hole. He was playing Titleist 18’s. I just stared at it for a moment. Peyton leaned over me.

“You like that?”

“Yeah. Not bad.”

“If you look hard enough, you’ll probably find about 3 dozen of those things on the course somewhere.”

Well that’s cool. He’s got a sense of humor. That made me a LITTLE more comfortable.

When we got up to the halfway house, Scott ran right up to the window.

“Give me 3 hotdogs.”

Normally, caddies are supposed to wait patiently for the players to order and then hope that they offer to buy something for you. But Scott just bypassed all of that. I don’t blame him. He was working his ass off, and if he didn’t speak up now, there was a good chance he wouldn’t eat. One of the players just laughed at Scott’s audacity.

“Really Scott? Three hotdogs?”

“Yeah. Three.”

Scott wasn’t laughing. Man was it getting hot. I just got out here and I needed a Gatorade. Because this was only my second hole with the group, I asked Scott if he would get one for me. I didn’t want to just order something yet. I didn’t feel like I had earned it. He just nodded and I ran back out into the fairway to get ready for the next hole.

Again, the only drive I paid attention to was Peyton’s. He demolished it. I was standing around 280 yards from the tees they were playing (the tips) and his ball landed at least 20 yards past me. I calculated the yardages and waited for their arrival. I started getting excited, because I was somewhat of an expert on this hole. I knew exactly how far a player would need to hit the ball to carry the traps, to stay short, how much room they had left of the fairway at 80 yards, etc etc. So I couldn’t wait to help the man out.

Scott ran by me to get the yardages for his players. He had half a hotdog hanging out of his mouth and he reached into his bib to grab a purple Gatorade. He threw it underhanded much like a college softball pitcher would, and it was flying like a fastball right at Mr. Manning. I ran a few steps and reached out to prevent the bottle from coming any closer to my player. The bottle slapped against my hands and I cradled it into my chest.

“Nice catch.”

“Thanks Mr. Manning.”

I laughed. I mean, it’s not like Scott and I had that planned. The post-pattern I just ran for a Gatorade was completely unintentional, but I mean, come on. What a perfect time to do it. I’m just glad I didn’t drop the Gatorade. But I guess either way that would’ve been a great story.

Peyton didn’t ask for any of my advice. He just wanted to rip an iron as far as he could. Man he was hitting the ball high. The member in the group was starting to give him crap about it.

“Holy cow P. Manning. Can’t you hit those irons any higher?”

“Well, you know how it goes. When you’re a freakin’ beast like I am, it’s hard NOT to hit it high.”

After the first four holes, Peyton and I hadn’t clicked yet on the greens. It’s not like I was misreading them per se, it was just that I was giving him the wrong line for his speed of choice—which was incredibly firm. Then, on the 11th, it finally happened.

“What do you see here Tom?”

“Oh boy. Do I have a money read for you.”

“Give it to me.”

“Two balls outside the right.”

“You sure? This is a big putt in the match.”

“Just trust it. I have a good feeling.”

And sure enough, it went in. As he walked over to take his ball out of the hole, he pointed at his two friends like “Shooter” McGavin.

“Oh, look at this. P. Manning is back.”

“What are you boys talking about? I never left.”

Fortunately, we kept this streak going for 4-5 more holes. He never congratulated me on my reads, but the fact that I was successfully reading his putts was good enough for me.

On the 15th hole Scott grabbed our attention by yelling and pointing to the sky.

“Hey guys! Look! Look at the bald eagle! MAN that bird is rare!”

Everyone in the group took a moment to look. A minute or so later, the bird came close enough to us so we could all tell that it WASN’T a bald eagle. Scott was the first to comment.

“Oh, sorry. It’s just an osprey.”

A few members of the group started to chuckle. Peyton was still staring at the sky.

“Well that held my attention for about 45 seconds.”

After we finished the hole, we all started making our way towards the 16th tee. But Peyton hung back for a minute and started yelling.

“Hey guys! Look! Look guys! It’s a Dinosaur!”

Pause.

“Oh wait. It’s just a dog.”

I’ll say it again. Great sense of humor.

By the time we reached the 18th hole (hole 5 the way they were playing), Scott and I were done. Just done. I was completely worn out and I’m sure Scott was much, much worse. At this point, neither of us cared if it was Peyton Manning or Keith Richards. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m sure Keith would have some good drugs he could spare to help us get through it. But we just wanted to go home. After everyone finished putting, the member turned to the rest of the group.

“Man this is great. So much daylight. I’m so glad we’re playing until dark.”

What? Scott and I just glared at them. Were they kidding? This is going to sound blasphemous, but I had been planning this date for a week and I really didn’t want to miss it, even if it was for Peyton Manning. Fine, call me an idiot. But honestly, I was famished and completely exhausted. Scott came over to me.

“You going to try to leave?”

“I don’t want to. But I sorta have plans I can’t break.”

“Well please ask. Because I want to leave too. I figure if you ask, they’ll let both of us go.”

I was pretty nervous to talk to the head pro. But at this point, I figured I had done my required loop and the rest of it was just a bonus if I was up for it. The head pro pulled up next to me and we just stared at each other for a moment. Finally I opened my mouth.

“Pro, I’m terrified to ask you this.”

“You have to leave?”

“Yeah. I’ve had these plans for a week now.”

“You sure you want to put the rest of the group on Scott? I mean hell, the guy’s been fired at least 3 times already.”

Crap. I didn’t want to put all the pressure on Scott. I didn’t know how much longer he could stand upright. But I just had to leave.

“Yeah. Scott’s one of our best.”

“How are you going to present it to Peyton? You just going to disappear?”

“I don’t know. I’ll just tell him it’s been an honor to caddie for him and peace out.”

“I don’t know.”

I just shrugged. Again, at this point, I really didn’t care. And I hate to say that. I was so tired it felt like survival more than anything else. When we finished the hole I walked over to Peyton.

“Mr. Manning? I feel like I’m going to regret this for a long time, but I’m afraid I have to go. Plans I can’t get out of.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. Really nice to meet you. Tell her I said hello.”

“No problem.”

Well that was easy. What a down to earth kinda guy. It’s nice when a big celebrity like that can be as personable off camera as they are on-camera. It certainly made my job a hell of a lot easier.

And Scott is fine. I talked to him the next day to make sure he was okay. He ended up caddying over 50 holes that day, but he still managed to finish and come into work the next day to caddie another 27 with Peyton’s group. Talk about a hard working caddie.

Well thanks for reading this far. I just wanted to make sure I wrote out as much as I could remember from the loop. And as I said, I’m still working on another long post which describes most of my schedule from last week. But I hope everyone is doing well. Take care all.

5 comments:

English Dave said...

Dude, Peyton Manning is the nuts! One of my old friends doesn't like him 'cos he thinks he talks kind of funny, and I suppose there is that, but he's still the man. And I think Lil' Chris is merely jealous anyway ... he never likes anyone good. He's a Tottenham fan. "My old man said/ 'Be a Tottenham fan'/ I said 'Fuck off, Bollocks, You're a (See you Next Tuesday)'" Not too sure why I edited the C-word and not the F-Bomb there - I guess increasing liberalization in society is to blame. "This is everyone's fault but mine". What was I talking about? Oh yes.

I'm glad you found him to be cool in person. In my job, we have a few clients who are well-known/famous (a few actors, some international sportsmen and some captains of industry, one of whom has gone out with/is currently living with at least two supermodels, the dirty whores) and I was pretty intimidated about speaking to them. Most of them are really cool, though, and at least give the impression of being just as pleased to meet you as you are to meet them. And they can be pretty informal - one of the actors to whom I speak pretty regularly feels perfectly free to turn the air as blue as you like when we talk ... Random Sample Quote, when I was passing on a message from someone chasing to him to do a trivial little task "Fucking hell, Dave, that bloke's a WANKER!" And he was, I couldn't argue that point. Some of the businessmen are a little more formal, then I suppose they are working when I speak to them, as opposed to the others. Anyway, I guess Peyton felt he was as much in your yard as he ever feels about anything and he sounds like he was just out to relax, whack and have a good time. As everyone on the golf course should, always.

I would have bagged the bird to stay with Peyton, but that's probably only because I know that I would never get another chance to talk to and walk round the golf course with him. Of course, when you see him every day like you do, Tom, I suppose it becomes a natural thing. And I would have thought that if I talked/fooled he into coming out with me once, then I could do it again, especially if I gave her a big story about how me & Peyts (my new nickname for him) were so close. I hope she was worth it ... did you tap her? Play that butt like a bongo? Oh, I'm a classy fellow, alright.

I'd better go - I've said too much. Thank you for writing again, Tom, and I look forward to reading your big long post in the future. Did you see the Players at the weekend? Good for Philsy, that's what I say.

Jam Boy said...

Butt bongo? Hahah. Good one Dave. I'll have to remember that. Sounds like a pick-up line.

And yes, I'm always a fan of Phil's. I just feel bad for Sean. I wish he would've made that birdie on 16 so he could've been a little more conservative on 17.

But personally, I'd love to see a tournament someday where there are two leaders like 5-6 shots ahead of everyone else...and then on 18, one puts it OB, one puts it in the water, a few chunks, skanks, etc...so that they're battling for triple bogey for the win. That would be great to watch. A little sadistic of me, sure, but I still think that'd be hilarous.

Matt said...

That was a fantastic read JB. Glad to see the humour from his commercials carries over to real life.

Great stuff.

RamblingMan said...

after all that you have to tell us how the date went !

MyDailySlice said...

As always, fantastic post! I hope you got tipped well enough to take your date out for a fine evening.

JFB