Saturday, January 07, 2006

Take a Walk in My Shoes

So I’ve been thinking about it, and I think it might be interesting for you guys to hear about my day’s as a Caddie Master: what exactly do I have to do every day? Well fine, twist my arm. To be honest, it’s really very simple. A Caddie Master is nothing more than an experienced juggler. But, you can’t just be any juggler. You need to be able to pick sides. Or pick the middle. Whichever works for you at any given moment. That’s probably more accurate. A juggler of players, caddies and professional staff members. When it comes to picking sides, you are both for and against every argument. You have to be. The moment you make things personal is the same moment you start pissing people off. Not everyone, mind you, but SOME people. And it doesn’t end until you leave. Sure, I may sound like I’m blowing the situation way out of proportion, but continue to read. Experience a typical day in my shoes. Now, please understand that I am still new to this. So for those of you who have worked in the golf industry for a while, please feel free to let me know how well this post rings true to your experiences.

That being said, let’s begin.

I wake up late. Not because the alarm didn’t go off or I forgot to set it in the first place, but because I turned off the alarm when it woke me out of sweet serenity and decided, “hey, I have a few more minutes to rest my head.”

Half an hour later, I wake up with the adrenaline rush of an axe-murderer when I realize what time it is. I skip the shower, breakfast and deodorant. Thank God I remembered to iron my clothes the night before, or I’d be screwed. I hop in the car and nearly blow out the exhaust as I rocket down a deserted back-road at 6:15 am.

I arrive on time, but there are two caddies impatiently waiting outside of the cart barn smoking cigarettes waiting for me to unlock the door. The fog surrounding the course resembles something out of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” A tree seems to appear magically in front of me as I walk towards the caddies. I almost crap my pants.

“It’s fuckin’ foggy out. I couldn’t fuckin’ see a fuckin’ thing when I fuckin’ pulled in this morning. Fuckin’ this and fuckin’ that. Fuckin’ A man.”

The caddies follow me inside and immediately pull up a chair in the lounge area. One of them pulls out a deck of cards, the other grabs a scrap piece of paper and starts a tally sheet. The gambling has already started.

“Hey Tom? I was just thinking about it, and I really don’t want to work today.”

“It’s 6:37 in the AM. Why did you come in?”

“I figure I can win enough money off of THIS clown to pay for all the beers I’m going to drink on the course today.”

“You can’t…”

“Yeah, I made a tee time with my Uncle for 12:30 man. He’s only here once a year. I can’t miss it.”

“The first tee time is at 8 AM. Even if I got you on the first loop, you still might miss that tee time.”

“That’s what I’m sayin’ man. I’m thinking about not working.”

Realizing that the conversation had hit an illogical dead-end, I walk out to the bag room to get a radio and start moving carts into position.

Two more caddies show up. One the guys call “Two-A-Side” because that’s what he says over and over again whenever anybody challenges him to a match on the course.

“All I need is two-a-side man. Two-a-side.”

The other caddie could go days without saying a word. Can’t imagine how he could do that. His friends tell me he was dating a supermodel and hitting up the clubs in New York City every weekend for two years. How could that kid NOT have anything to talk about.

Two-A-Side starts in with “hey man, I really need a power loop today. Power loops. I need some cash man. Don’t give me nothin’ else. Power loops.”

What is this, Jerry Maguire? What do you want me to say? “Show me the money?”

“What’s on the sheet man? Where are the power loops?”

I haven’t even had a chance to see the play sheet, and you’re the worst caddie we have here. Power loops? How about you start showing me you’re worth it. Then we’ll talk. But of course, instead of saying that, I take a deep breath, break some wind, and say, “Let me get the play sheet and check it out.”

“Yeah mean. Look for those power loops and get back to me.”

The staff guys start rolling in. One of them is also a caddie, and I’ve been having a problem lately trying to fit him into my priority list because TECHNICALLY he’s supposed to be working on staff helping with carts, bags and ice cups till 12. THEN he can caddie. But members have been requesting him and he can’t seem to understand that we need him to help with clubs and carts and those freakin' ice cups if it’s busy. He’s also Jamaican, which means he’s very clean, pressed and forces you to pay attention to him because you’re constantly struggling to understand what the fuck he’s talking about.

“You need to please the guys who have been here since the beginning. You see what I’m saying?”

Long pause. But I have to stare at him, because he’s piecing together a thought and still wants to talk.

“I like to caddie. I don’t wan’ my staff job to interfere. You see what I’m saying?”

“Yeah. They told me inside that you have to work until 12 unless it’s slow on the course. So we’ll just see, okay?”

Plus, the fact that YOUR Jamaican ass won’t go inside to talk to them tells me that you KNOW they’re right, but you’re just trying to get me to pull some strings to get you more money.

So I tear myself away, grab the play sheet, and start pulling bags.

Thoughts of “turning my management style around” pop into my head. Maybe I shouldn’t be so lenient with the caddies. Maybe I should just tell them how it is, and leave no room for discussion. I’m just not the stereotypical management type. I guess it’s because I hate the buck stopping with me. Having nobody to blame but myself for a decision I make makes me nervous. For people to still like me and want to work with me, I suppose I need the buck to fly past me. That’s an interesting thought. I get along with everyone, but could I REALLY if I was a true and blue “manager?” I don’t know. But it needs to be pondered.

More caddies start arriving. I react by waving and letting out a small fart. There are no tee times at this club, and so I never know how many caddies I might need. The only days you’re able to please EVERYONE (or at least come the closest to pleasing everyone as a Caddie Master) is when every caddie that comes in ends up going out on a loop. It has been a little busier these days, so it is possible I could get everyone out today. But you never know.

One of the caddies walks up towards the podium to meet me. “Hey Tom, I haven’t worked in like 4 days. Can you make sure to get me out today?”

Oh this old trick. I don't work every day as a Caddie Master, and the caddies know it. So they know there’s a chance I haven’t been keeping track of who has been getting out and who hasn’t. I pause and look down at the sheets in my clipboard.

“Well, according to these sheets, you’ve been one of the ONLY caddies getting out the last four or five days.”

A smile crosses the caddies’ face.

“Yeah, well those were bad loops. I need to make a little more money, you know what I’m saying?”

“I hear ya. Let’s just see how the day pans out.”

The caddies try that shit with me every time I work. At first, it always worked for them because I didn’t think to look on the sheets before I answered. I trusted them. Bastards. Sometimes I feel like I can’t trust any of them anymore.

This post is getting a little long, so I’ll end it there for now. But maybe this will give you guys a better idea of what I do. The rest of the day is more or less just meeting and greeting golfers, trying to sneak in a word about the caddies and see if they’d be interested in taking one. I’ve found that unless there’s a small part of the player that’s ever considered taking a caddie, they usually won’t take one. And the caddies? They will never thank me for a good loop. I either hear complaints about money or nothing at all. Being a Caddie Master is a thankless job. And I think that’s the hardest part of all.