Saturday, November 05, 2011

Your 18-Year-Old Self

It happened again yesterday.  I caddied for 18 holes, and by the end of the loop, I had barely spoken to the member at all.  I think this is the third or fourth time this has happened—where I’m caddying for a couple of guests, and by the time we finish 18 holes, I almost forget the members’ name.  I suppose there are a few good reasons for this: the constant wind that makes hearing difficult, the challenging walk and limited strength for conversation, and the fact that I’m still new there, and the members have their go-to caddies.  But yesterday I really didn’t have any excuses because it was just me and the member out there. 

I carried one bag, and I barely spoke to the member at all. 

In a traditional sense, this type of relationship is normal.  I mean, I’m there to carry the bag and make the round as easy and enjoyable as possible.  My job isn’t to talk.  But come on: 13 holes and only three or four sentences between us? He even had to ask me my name before we parted ways.  That’s how memorable I was.

He was a nice older gent who mumbled to himself.  At times I thought maybe he was talking to me, but I was never sure.  I mean the last thing he said to me was “good job,” so I guess everything went alright for him.  Maybe he was just old-school, and preferred not to talk to a caddie.  Who knows?

What I do know, however, is that he showed me how effective a straight, 220-yard drive can be on this course.  Granted, he played the whites, which measure around 6400 without wind.  But still: that’s some heavy-ass rough out there with an endless number of funky uneven lies.  Mr. Silent gave me a peek at a new strategy.

Anyway, the poignant moment I really wanted to share was what happened AFTER my loop.  I walked into the TV room to find 6-8 caddies lounging about.  There was an outing yesterday, and somehow I bypassed all the hoopla when Mr. Silent rolled in.  Out of the blue, one of the caddies blurted out: “If your 18-year-old self was here right now, what would he say?”

After a moment of silence, where the only sounds came from SportsCenter, answers to this question flew every which way, but they all revolved around the following theme:

“My 18-year-old self would spit in my face and call me a loser.  I think being a caddie is the last place I expected to be.”

Everyone seemed to sober up in that moment and give a nod of agreement.  As strange as this sounds, that answer shocked me.  I had always seen a symbiotic relationship between caddies and members: the caddies wanted the lives of the members, and the members wanted the lives of the caddies.  I felt this was why so many members and caddies bonded on the course, and as a positive side effect, the caddies were endowed with a superior level of confidence.  I mean think about it: in the real world, these CEO’s, celebrities, board members, doctors or whoever else were all masters of their respective domains.  But on the course? They’re on our turf.

In short, I always thought of caddying as a fun job to have.  Sure I ran into some problems years ago, but overall, these caddies are enjoying their lives, right?

After the responses I heard, I wasn’t so sure anymore.  But at least SportsCenter was on.  Something needed to distract us from the silence.