Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Start of a New Season

The ice storm that hit this area about a week ago certainly put a kink on the start of the golf season. Just when I thought I was going to start working on a regular basis, the course closes for 4 days. Well, in all honesty, it could’ve been 3. I’m not exactly sure. All I know is that I received a call saying that the course was covered in snow and so my infallible caddie reflexes took over and made me temporarily hibernate for the last week. And every day, I left my phone on its loudest setting, hoping that my manager would call and tell me there was work. But it never rang.

Well yesterday it finally DID ring. And all of a sudden, before I knew it, I was back in the caddie room, sitting on the couch again getting psyched up for the season.

Everyone around me was just NUTTY. During my wait, I kept tossing around a theory that all of the caddies had succumbed to a wee-bit of winter “cabin fever.” We were all so happy to see each other again that EVERYONE was making jokes. And not just making jokes, but taking them all too far.

First, I would start something:

“Have you seen one of the new check-out options at the grocery store near the mall? You can scan in your finger-print and hook up that image directly to your checking account. So you can just walk up to the register, slide your finger over the sensor and leave.”

This topic was not chosen haphazardly. One of the caddies’ in the room LIVED for conspiracy theories and possible human-rights violations. He’s addicted to Sudoku and will occasionally assume the role of a bum on the street, accosting innocent people as they pass him by to rant and rave on his own personal theories about 9/11 or the terrible things big businesses are doing to save a buck.

And as I spoke, I watched him. I knew I had caught him off guard. Almost instantly, his eyes lit up and a combination of hate, fear and spit flew back in my face. “You’re fucking kidding me!”

“Nope.” He started shaking his head.

“Don’t…don’t people understand what this could lead to? What’s stopping these grocery stores from hooking up with the FBI or marketing spammers? People you don’t want knowing your whereabouts will all of a sudden have complete access to your every movement. Next thing you know they’ll be asking for SEMEN samples from everyone.”

And this is where the joke/discussion de-railed and took on a life of its own. Another caddie chimed in, apparently excited by the prospect of commenting on sperm.

(Acting like a grocery-store cashier) “Alright, now that will be $27.84. Would you like to earn a 10% discount by jerking-off into that cup over there?”

Then another.

“Yeah, just go step over towards that wall and stick your thing inside. We’ll take care of it from there buddy!”

Then there was something about how great it would be to go grocery shopping, and then a few random comments about reusing rancid meat. You get the point. It was all over the place.

And before I forget, I suppose I should document this: a former caddie was on Judge Judy today. The only thing I had ever heard about this guy before now was that he had brought a hooker on the golf course during a caddie play-day. And now he was suing his brother for $3,000. When it was all said and done, he ended up winning $71. The caddies in the room were peeing themselves watching it. The last thing he said before he left the courtroom was what put everyone in stitches.

Judge Judy: “I hereby award the plaintiff… $71.”

Former Caddie (looks stoned): “Beautiful.”

I guess now the drinks are on THAT guy.

And for 5 hours, this was my day. Telling jokes, talking about what we did over the winter, busting balls. Just priceless. It felt like an hour had passed. But once all of the caddies had been assigned and I was the last one remaining, the minutes started to CRAWL by.

And then a ray of hope. Mr. Generosity. His game was a little weak and he was only able to get out of the office a couple times a month, but every time he walked on property I wanted to caddie for him. A warm, genuine individual who always made me laugh. He would be riding today with two guests.

The first guest was Mr. Sensitive from Tennessee.


The most awkward part about that, for me, was that I’ve lived in 5 different states, driven across the country and met people from all over the world. I had no freakin’ idea where he was from. The town he spoke of was just as meaningful to me as if somebody said, “Hi, I’m from Westchestersonville.”


My face was blank. I couldn’t seem to change it. And worse yet, instead of shaking it off and going onto a different subject, I just stared at him.

“You probably don’t know where that is.”

“Oh, yeah, sure. Tennessee. I know exactly where that state is.”

But past any knowledge I could’ve gained coloring between the lines in a 4th grade geography class, I was at a loss for words with this guy.

And Mr. Sensitive was sensitive. Like, girl-scout sensitive. I’m always very careful when I deliver yardages to people because I have to make sure I have a good handle on their golf games before I open my mouth. If they’re bad players, then they usually get offended when I give them any sort of yardage. If the players happen to be good, they might want the front, pin and back yardages. They may want wind considerations, any elevation changes, the “stimp” of the greens, whatever.

Now, I know I need to be careful with yardages. It’s part of my routine. But this was one of the first loops of the year. So…I sorta ignored my tried and true observations and just gave Mr. Sensitive yardages anyway. That didn’t go over very well.

We were walking down the 5th hole, and I was just happy as a pig in shit to try and help these GOB’s determine what clubs they should use to lay up on this well-bunkered par-5.

“Where am I?” Mr. Sensitive said in a very sensitive manner.

“You’re on a golf course. But your ball’s over there.”

“It went through the fairway? Oh muffins! Now I’m going to have to re-think how I might play this hole.”

“Well, it’s about 190 to that bunker on the right. So make sure you keep it short of that and you should be perfect.”

“I can’t hit the ball 190.”

You just hit your drive over 260. Don’t lie Wanker McWankerson.

“Sure you can. So make sure you take a little less club.”

“No. You don’t understand. I can’t hit the ball 190. I’ll never be able to hit the ball 190. I’m not a good player.”

Oh my God. Cry me a river Justin Timberlake. Should I try to encourage him and make him take a 5 or 6-iron instead of the 4? Should I just let him hit the ball in the bunker?

I think I’ll let him hit it in the bunker.

And sure enough, he SMOKES a 5-iron and puts it 2 feet short of the bunker on the right.

“That was a nice shot.”

“Oh my God, it was, wasn’t it?”

Yes. Si. Oui. I just said that. Do they speak English down in Tennessee sissy man?

The other member of the group I’ll call “Mr. Arm-and-Hammer” because honestly, that’s what I think his name should be. His name was spelled one way on his bag-tag—elegant and long with all it’s vowels and such—and yet through some nifty tricks with phonemes and a drunken slur, the name was reduced to a corporate sound: Mr. Arm-and-Hammer.

Now Mr. Arm-and-Hammer was really nice once you stroked his ego. He had on a “TPC at Sawgrass” shirt and he didn’t even acknowledge me until the 4th hole when I turned to him and finally said:

“Hey there. Nice shirt.”

“Oh this? Yeah, it’s a nice course.”

No shit?


Oh come on. Is that ALL I’m gonna get out of you? Well fine. Here’s one more.

“…Did you par 17?”

“Ha! Yes! Twice!”

Ahh yes. Thank God. Now we can be friends.

Sounds obvious, but one thing that always strikes me as amazing about this job are the techniques I’ve learned to get along with almost everyone I work with. Some players don’t like to be bothered, some players like to talk, some players want to hear about drinking stories and others are insecure and afraid to swing a golf club in front of you. Sometimes all four players in a group are alike. Sometimes they’re all different. As a caddie standing on the first tee, you are an outsider. The foursome usually knows each other very well, but none of them know you. You have 18 holes to sell them on your services and make them believe that you were worth every penny. On top of that, you need to make a big enough impression so that they look for you the next time they visit.

Well, that’s one way of looking at it anyway.

Take care guys.

Friday, March 16, 2007

GOB's and Putting Percentages

I think before I talk about my loop today I should define something for everyone.

“Good Old Boy.” Definition: A “Yee-haw” individual. A southern gent with a high level of business acumen and prowess. They are usually employed as salesmen because of their incredibly personable approach to people as well as their consistent inability to understand the meaning of the word “no.” They have names like “Billy” “Rex” “Bobby” or “Duke.” They are open with their feelings and often share their life stories with total strangers. They are also known to spout out a seemingly random assortment of words with the same rhythm and intonation as if they were really saying, “Yee-haw.”

Now I’m not saying every “Good Old Boy” is exactly like this, but every single “GOB” I’ve run into fits this description. They are just incredibly warm and quirky individuals that keep my job interesting.

Today the tee sheet was pretty empty, and I was just glad to finally get out and work. I would be caddying for four individuals on carts and they were all most certainly good old boys.

When we got to the first green, I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of my green-reading skills had returned. Well, I suppose I can’t take all the credit, because the Superintendent hasn’t changed the hole locations for 3 days now and I think I’ve seen enough putts by now to be an expert. I almost feel like I’m cheating half the time.

“Where does this one break?”

“Two balls left to right.”

“But you haven’t even looked at the green.”

“I know.”

“Great read.”

“I know.”

But it felt great to hear “great read” again. Those words never get old.

Anyway, while the group was walking to the second tee the Caddie Master came out on a cart to deliver some beers to the group. Before he started driving back in towards the clubhouse he pulled up next to me while I was getting into position to forecaddie on the second hole.

“I used to caddie for these guys all the time. They’re great.”

“Yeah, it seems that way.”

“Has Mr. Looks-at-you-funny made a putt yet?”

“No, he just lipped out on the last hole. And he looked at me funny. Why?”

“You’ll see. I can’t remember what he says when he finally makes a big putt, but you won’t forget it. It’s hilarious.”

And then he drove off. What? What does this guy say that’s so funny? Well, now I REALLY had to make sure my green-reading was on point because I just had to see what the Caddie Master was talking about.

Just as an aside, I call the member “Mr. Looks-at-you-funny” because when he addresses you he isn’t really looking at you. He’s looking either THROUGH you or off at the mating squirrels.

So as the round progressed, there were a lot of close calls. Mr. Looks-at-you-funny hadn’t dropped one yet, but everyone else sure was. Two of the players were scratch golfers, one of them being an Assistant Pro from Indianapolis who likes the Colts, fishing and small dogs. The other was a former college baseball player with an injured rotator-cuff and a long list of marital problems. As I said before, these were GOB’s. By the 5th hole, I knew everything about them. But regardless of how Fluffy’s eating habits depressed the Assistant or how much the old college player missed his playing days, they were both making putts. And if I can read putts for scratch golfers and make them happy, I can read putts for anyone. At least for today.

About halfway through the round I had a bit of a revelation. In thinking about it, I have found that on average a golfer will only putt the ball on the line he has chosen 1 out of 5 times. Putts are pulled, pushed, toed, heeled, whatever, and that’s even before we talk about speed. So a golfer hitting the ball on the correct line with the speed I am envisioning in my wildest dreams (if you work out the math, assuming 36 putts a round and perfect speed) happens only 7 times a round. That means the other 29 putts are somewhat “missed,” and the golfer potentially thinks less of me 80.56% of the time. But if you also factor in that all of my reads aren’t necessarily “correct” (which of course we KNOW never happens), the number of putts made goes down even more, and the percentage of “displeasure” with my services goes up. And that’s just one golfer. If you factor in FOUR golfers, the results are somewhat discouraging: Using my basic “1 out of 5” hypothesis, you have a 1 in 625 chance that I have the correct read, ALL FOUR players hit the ball on the correct line, and all four balls have the optimal speed. That’s a 0.16% success rate. In looking at the numbers, green reading seems like not only an art, but a mathematical impossibility.

No wonder high-risk gambling in the casinos seems like a “sure thing” to caddies.

But surprisingly, I had a very good day with these guys on the greens. And even when I was a little off, they were very lenient with me because I had walked them through my thought process before they stepped up to the ball.

“What do you see here Tom?”

“This putt will be pretty quick. And if memory serves correctly, this slope here actually pushes the ball right. So I’m thinking a foot out on the left.”


At this point, I’m at the other side of the hole looking at it. Pause.

“Well, you know what? From down here it almost looks straight. I don’t see anything at all. Go left center.”

And sure enough, the ball went dead straight at the hole. At the last second, it turned 2 balls right and just grazed the edge of the cup.

“Well look at that.”

“Sorry. That was a good putt. It ended up being a little subtle there at the end.”

“No, don’t worry about it. You were right about that slope wanting to push the ball right. It was a good read.”

This is the kind of environment I like to have on the greens. I try to work as quickly as possible to get to everyone and read every putt if necessary, but I really enjoy a good learning environment too. I usually ask the players after a missed putt if they pulled it, pushed it, or felt like they hit it perfectly. Anything to get a hint at what it would feel like if I was stroking the putt and I was watching the ball roll toward the hole. Because let’s face it, you get a much better sense of what the greens are going to do if YOU are the one stroking the putts.

But even after everyone else had made at least two or three big putts, Mr. Looks-at-you-funny still hadn’t dropped a big one. We were about ready to tee off on 14. Mr. Looks-at-you-funny and his partner were two down and looking to press.

“Well, looks like it’s about that time, gents.”

“You just looking at me funny? Or do you wanna press us, boy?”

“Hee hee! Oh yeah. Consider yourself pressed.”

Now I was pulling for Mr. Looks-at-you-funny, but his opponents were on fire today. One was a scratch golfer and the other was a “12 handicap” that played to a 6. Now, if anybody else came to this course as a sand-bagger, they would’ve been given snide remarks and banned from the course by the end of the round. But because this guy was a friend and a GOB, all was forgiven and the foursome just joked about it.

“You know what I’m going to do 12-handicapper? I’m going to call your home course and see what’s what.”

“What are you talking about? I’m a 12 here.”

“Yeah right. And the three net-birdies you’ve had so far on the back-nine were just luck, right?”

“Yeah. Hehe!”

“Boy, you’re somethin’ else! Hehe!”

So Mr. Looks-at-you-funny needed to drop a big putt soon to capitalize on the press.

On this particular hole, his opponents didn’t manage their shots very well and under the match’s two-man-best-ball format had only a shot at 5 from 15-feet. But they drained it. Now Mr. Looks-at-you-funny needed to make his putt for a 5-net-4.

“Tom, what do you see here? About a cup?”

“Actually, I’m seeing more like 2-feet out on the right.”


I hated to offer a read that was THAT much more than his initial instinct, but I really did see almost 2-feet. I knew from past experiences that the ball dove right to left at the end, and 99% of the players attempting this putt never left the ball high enough to give it a chance.

There’s the putt. And bingo.

Right in the hole. Perfect speed. I was so excited that I wanted to start shouting, but at that moment I remembered what the Caddie Master had said on the 2nd hole. Mr. Looks-at-you-funny might say something memorable.

“Snap, crackle, cracker-jack-box-pop-fizz-oh-what-a-relief-it-is! Woooweeee!”

He pumped his fist and instantly sought me out for a congratulatory fist-mash.

“Great putt Mr. Looks-at-you-funny!”

“Great read caddie-who-can’t-read-a-putt!”

Oh, it was great. And it happened on 17 too.

“My boy Jack jumped over the candlestick! Yee-haw!”

And just as their putts dropped on 18, it started to rain, and we were finished.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cinderella Story, Outta Nowhere

Back in the day, there were a few Chris Farley SNL skits where he was hosting his own talk show. During the skit, he would always act very nervous and unsure of himself, and end up fumbling all of the questions he was asking his guests. An interview with Paul McCartney would start out with:

“Hey Paul…do…do you mem-remember Beatle-mania?”


“Yes, Chris.”

“Tha…that was awesome.”



“And do you remember wh….when…ummm…when everyone thought you were dead?”


“That…that was a hoax, huh?”

“Yes, Chris. I wasn’t really dead.”

“Oh. Right.”

At this point, Chris is pissed at himself for screwing up the questions. His face would turn red and he’d start cursing himself out in front of his guest. I think every skit ended up with the special guest consoling Chris, telling him he was doing a great job and he shouldn’t worry about it.

I know this is a bit of an obscure reference, but I think it’s a perfect analogy to how I end up reading greens for people.

“Where do you see this one going Tom?”

“Well…I…umm…the wind is…umm…and the grain on the green…a-and I think it’s 3…no…wait…2 cups outside right.”

The ball misses 2 cups outside right.

“Well that’s funny. That didn’t move at all where you told me it would Tom.”

“Man I suck! That was a GREAT stroke you had there and I…Christ!”

“No, Tom, it’s okay. You’re doing a great job. Really.”

“Oh…really? Oh thanks so much. You’re awesome.”

Maybe not quite to that extent, but I think that would be the best way to explain how I felt inside all day today. Here I am, caddying on a gorgeous spring afternoon, working with a member who requested me and I think I misread almost all of his putts today. Well, all but two of them. And both times, I cheered so loudly afterwards the guys must’ve felt like we had Arnie’s Army following us around.

Help me Dave Pelz! Give me strength Dave Pelz! I smoke rocks!

The only cleansing I received for my sins on the greens came on the par-3 9th. Now I don’t know why he started this tradition, but this particular member always asks me if I would like to “hit up” with the group. Now as a caddie, this is a very precious moment, because if you’re able to hit a good shot, the foursome you’re caddying for forgets all of your mistakes and instantly looks up to you for advice for the rest of the round. Basically, it’s the equivalent of a good approach shot on the 18th hole at Augusta in front of 3,000 people.

The other bonus—again, if I hit a GOOD shot—is that I would be able to tell these guys what the hell was going on with the wind. We were all a little confused as to what might be the right club for this hole. The distance was 183, and I grabbed a 5-iron.

Cinderella story, outta nowhere.

Silence swept over the tee box. That same silence you feel when you’re standing over your first tee shot of the day and you can just SENSE everyone staring at you. The shafts the member had in his irons were a little more flexible than I was used to, so I tried to aim a little further right just in case my adrenaline got the best of me and the ball decided to snap dead left into the water.

Tears in his eyes, I guess, as he lines up this shot.

Right on the back of the green. Thank God.

And sure enough, for the rest of the round, the other players started asking me for more and more advice. I got lucky this time. Hopefully this luck will last until I start seeing some more balls roll and can be a little more confident on the greens.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The First Loop

Today was many things. It was the official start to my season, it was a time to greet good friends from last year and it was a litmus test to see where I stood with my abilities. I also had a moment today where I thought my career as a caddie was over. But aside from THAT wonderful scare, the round went very well and I think this is going to be a great year.

I just love daylight-savings-time. Getting 4 ½ hours of sleep instead of 5 ½ really felt great. But to be honest, I was too excited about getting on the grass again to care about caffeine this morning.

Walking into the caddie room today was a treat. Handshakes all around. Everyone who walked through the door today was someone I hadn’t seen in over 3 months. Not a long time by any means, but in caddie-years that feels like forever. It’s like not seeing your family for a while. There are many times throughout your stint as a caddie where you rely on these guys for anything from food to money to rides to drugs. And they are all so generous with drugs. So many choices, and sometimes I just thank God I’m always in the right place at the right time. But bottom line, you are all brothers in arms. You all suffer together and rejoice together. So it was a pleasure to see these guys again.

The only drama of today came when one of the senior caddies missed the tee time for his regular guy. This particular member shows up maybe 3 or 4 days a week and always gives the pro-shop a hard time. He can never seem to tee off as early as he would like.

“Why can’t I tee off now?”

“Nobody can go out until 8 am Mr. Impatient-Fast-Ass-Player.”

“This is bullshit!”

What many members don’t realize is that the grounds-crew needs as much time as possible in the morning to mow the greens, cut some of the fairways and give the course a nice once-over before players arrive and tear through it. The biggest problem with this PARTICULAR member is, even if they let him out at 8 am, he’s done by 10 am. This means that instead of having until 11:00-11:30 to finish the last 3 or 4 holes, the grounds-crew only has until 10.

Anyway, Mr. Impatient-Fast-Ass-Player (who is actually a swell guy) always takes the same senior caddie whenever he goes out. He even calls the caddie at home to make sure he knows when to come in. But on this particular day, this senior caddie forgot to change his clocks.

Here was the effect: the senior caddie is late, so Mr. Impatient-Fast-Ass-Player ends up saying “Fuck it” and takes a different caddie. An hour later, the senior caddie comes in and still expects to work as soon as possible. Now bear in mind, I was there on time and have now been waiting an hour longer than he has to work. Seeing the impending dilemma, the Caddie Master tries to dilute the situation by attempting to sell this caddie on another loop, saying that he’ll be “off the course much faster” than if he waits around for the loop I was currently assigned to. But the senior caddie wasn’t buying it. He knew, just as I did, that the loop I was assigned to was quite lucrative. So he wanted in.

“Sorry I was late. But I can just take these guys coming up. That would be great.”

Look, I love you man, and it’s great to see you and all, but that’s MY loop you’re trying to steal.

Fortunately, the Caddie Master quickly finds two other players to pair with this sought-after twosome so we can split the loop instead of the painful alternative: him getting everything and me waiting around on the couch until noon because he’s been caddying for 8 years and I’ve only been there for 3. Ah seniority. Will I ever be an equal with this guy?

And this really was a great loop, believe me. I guess I can’t really blame the other caddie for wanting a piece of it. I would’ve fought for it too. The group consisted of three incredible members and one toolbox. The first player, Mr. Awesome, was as laid back as they come, not ever really saying that much but always laughing and going about his business to shoot 75. The second, Mr. Forget-me-not, spent 3 weeks last summer confusing me with another caddie.

“Hey Tom! Good to see you again!”

I’ve never met you before.

“Tom, you remember my son Cal, right? I know you guys really hit it off last time. Remember me telling you about his application to med school? Well he got in! Isn’t that great?”

After that loop was over, I ran inside and asked the other “Tom” who occasionally moonlights as a caddie if he knew this member.

“Oh, Mr. Forget-me-not? He’s the man. How’s his son Cal doing?”

Yep, Mr. Forget-me-not had the wrong guy. But the fact that he welcomed me into his life so quickly still meant a lot to me. Even if he thought I was somebody else.

The third member of the group, Mr. Wishes-his-arms-were-relaxed has one of the most painful putting strokes I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if his technique came from a putting tip he received or if this is actually natural for him, but he uses a left-hand-low approach and keeps his left arm so incredibly straight you’d think some sort of poisonous snake had bitten it when he got out of bed that morning. His left arm, wrist and putter were all in one long, straight line. It was like he had his putter surgically attached to his arm and the putter head was now a single finger he could use to touch almost anything he wanted. But regardless of how rigid he kept his arm and putting stroke, he couldn’t seem to keep the ball on the right line. I’m SO glad I wasn’t caddying for him. I think I would’ve had a seizure trying to read his putts for him.

The final member of the group is a toolbox. He’s 7 feet tall, lanky and likes to whine. His swing is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Poopy-pants. His pre-shot routine, alignment and setup all look superb. The backswing is even good. Then suddenly, right when he gets to the top, a nearby squirrel whips out a cattle prod and pokes him in the bean-bag. The resulting follow-thru looks like he’s being electrocuted, yet somehow the ball flies down the middle of the fairway. It boggles the mind. I call him Mr. Toolbox because of his attitude towards the caddies. First and foremost, the other caddies hate him because he runs absolutely everywhere. It’s very difficult just to keep up with him, let alone get in front of him. And the worst part is, if you DON’T keep up with him, he whines about it to the pro shop. Well, no. That’s not the worst part. The worst part, which is quite unfortunate for the owner’s of the golf club, is that HE is the guy prospective members play golf with to decide whether or not they want to join. And I don’t know of anyone who would feel inspired enough to join the club after playing with that guy. I dub thee Mr. Toolbox. Arise, Sir Tool.

So that was the foursome. I was carrying Mr. Forget-me-not and Mr. Toolbox, the veritable Ying and Yang of golf. One of them truly feels that having a caddie carry your bag is a privilege, the other feels the need to criticize my every move, behind my back, and holds the power to fire me via his new position on the board. So, while I would absolutely love to spend all my time and energy caddying for the nice guy, today my efforts would need to be focused elsewhere. Today, appeasing the asshole would take priority.

The first hole was great. Well, I guess it was up until the green. I was an amazing caddie until then. But once I reached the putting surface, the litmus test had begun.

“Hey Tom? What do you see here?”

A 7-foot-tall toolbox. Oh wait. You mean the read? Oh.

“About a ball left to right.”

I was guessing. Now, I’m not sure how all of YOU read greens, and perhaps this is a stupid thing to say because there may not BE any other way, but I pretend that the ball is rolling straight at the hole, and as my imaginary ball rolls, I take into account the contours of the green and where I see the grain pointing to affect which way it rolls. So essentially, by the time my imaginary ball gets to the hole, I see how far left or right the ball ends up, assuming it doesn’t end up in the hole. Then I usually double check the read by imagining the ball taking the line I envisioned, watching the roll to see if it ends up in the center of the cup. Now even though I have said, many times, that I absolutely suck at reading the greens, when I get into the zone and can really focus, I’m actually pretty good at it. Well, at the current moment during this first round of the year, I was not in any sort of “zone” at all. I was just on cloud nine to be caddying again. I figured the rest would just work itself out. I had forgotten how much focus good green-reading requires.

So the ball actually ended up breaking about a cup-and-a-half. Mr. Toolbox just gave me a quick look, so we would both know that he wouldn’t be speaking to me about the greens for awhile.

Okay, so green reading is something I will have to work on.

The 8th hole was what really woke me up. The bags were already on the ground and I was just standing in the rough watching Mr. Wishes-his-arms-were-relaxed wishing his arms were more relaxed to swing his 5-wood. Suddenly, the middle of my back started to hurt. First it felt like somebody was blowing a small bubble in the middle of my spine. Then it felt like the bubble tensed up, and when I slowly twisted to try and relieve the pressure, it started to ache. I tried to remain calm, but all I could think about was my caddie season coming to an end before it had even begun. So I tried to slowly stretch it out, but it didn’t seem to go away.

Now everyone was moving again. I would have to pick the bags up. Trying to keep my back perfectly straight and lifting slowly with my legs, I began to walk. And wouldn’t you know it, after 2 minutes, the pain had disappeared.

So tonight I’m going to sleep on the floor with a pillow under my knees and two pillows supporting my head. I’ll sleep on the floor all summer if that’s what it takes.

But the rest of the round was very enjoyable. No more pain and I can’t wait to see more familiar faces as the summer progresses.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

So You Want To Be A Caddie?

This is bad. I’m so out of it right now. I just found an old Starbucks cup of coffee that has been sitting on my kitchen counter for at least 4 days. It’s cold and I’m pretty sure I was going to throw it out. But right now, I’m desperate. I need caffeine. The coffee cup is now being put in the microwave. Those precious few milliliters still dense with my addiction need to be heated and used. Ding. Fantastic.

But can you blame me? My body feels like it’s in the middle of a nightmare--Slow moving and being chased by some stupid-looking rabid deer. And we can’t have that. This caffeine addiction blows. I can’t stop falling off the wagon.

Well, at least this 4-day old coffee is still pretty damn good.

Alright, so I have to be honest with you. I did not caddie today. I received a call this morning telling me that the tournament had been cancelled and rescheduled to next weekend. Granted, it was only 75 degrees and SUNNY today with a slight breeze and smells of freakin’ spring in the air, but we’ll let that slide. If they say it’s cancelled, it’s cancelled.

The good news is that I will be working tomorrow. The Caddie Master who called me—almost in the same breath as when he uttered those terrible words of “the tournament is cancelled”—turned around a second later and told me to be in at 8 am tomorrow, because he “doesn’t know what to expect.”

And ever since I received that call, my body has completely rejected any notion my brain has had of MOVING. Perhaps knowing that another season of hard work and heavy bags was upon me triggered a chemical reaction in my brain and caused my body to just chill for awhile. But I suppose my caffeine addiction trumps any thoughts of relaxation, because here I am, drinking 4-day old coffee in the kitchen. And yes, the 2-Liter bottle of Diet Coke will be my next target.

I think it would be great if I could work out some kind of sponsorship with an energy drink company this summer. Judging by my current caffeine needs, I think a sponsorship would be the only way I’d have any money left by the end of it. And hey, if there’s any truth to the “6-degrees of separation” theory, hopefully someone reading this post knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows my crack dealer and will tell him to give me a freakin’ call back. I’m a good customer damn it.

So after I hung up the phone and my body completely gave out, my mind started drifting back to some of the great memories I’ve had caddying. I read over some of my old posts, started thinking about a new eating regimen and tried to think about what it is exactly I’d like to accomplish this summer. And in the midst of all this thought and searching through my computer, I found a list that I started working on sometime last year. I haven’t posted this yet, and I figured this would be a perfect time, seeing as how I’m about to embark on another memorable golf season. So I hope you enjoy it. The title of this list is: “So you want to be a Caddie?”

So you want to be a Caddie?

Your feet will become quite disgusting. Blisters will form EVERYWHERE.

Your biggest fear will no longer be death. It will be “Caddie-Ass.”

Flexible work schedules are the only work schedules.

Get used to NOT eating lunch. Energy bars and fruit will be your salvation.

7-Eleven becomes another food group.

Fatigue is just another word for “pussy.”

You can easily remember 4 names after a single introduction, but the four guys you’re working for can’t seem to remember yours.

You wake up at 8 am and feel as though you’ve slept in.

You won’t know where half of the bruises came from on your body.

You WILL be doing laundry every two days.

Unless you work hard to keep your brain active, it will systematically shut-down after 3 weeks of watching SportsCenter 5 times every morning.

A good nights’ rest? A thing of the past. You will wake up every 3-4 hours each night thinking you have to be out on the tee meeting players.

You WILL get in the best shape of your life.

Your golf game will start to improve without any additional practice sessions or lessons.

You WILL become EXCELLENT at reading greens whether you like it or not.

You will become bolder and more confident around everyone you know. Why would I say this? Because you will be working with some very important businessmen who normally don’t take shit from anyone. And yet, when YOU are with them, not only do you tell them what to do, but you charge them a fee for your services.

You will stop and smell the roses every single day. You have to. They border the cart path at the turn.

Your hair will be bleached by the sun and you will have the biggest golfers’ tan EVER.

You will RUIN belts.

You will have an endless supply of stories to tell.

Did I say “ruin” your belts before? Well I forgot something. The combination of sweat and leather around your waist will start to ruin your shorts.

You will rediscover the beauty of Motrin IB and weep uncontrollably after your first pain-free loop.

You’ll wish you purchased stock in Dr. Scholl’s, knowing full well that your purchases of insoles ALONE would keep that company in business.

The topic of money will be the main focus of almost every discussion in the caddie yard. Everything else: sex, drugs, drinking and golf will be lumped together in a much smaller category.

Well, that is the list so far. I’m sure I will continue to add to it. And, I know what everyone is thinking. “But wait…Jam Boy SUCKS at reading greens.”

Yes, I do. But I’m HOPING someday I will suck…not as much.

One last thing I will really have to think about tonight is what I really want to get out of this season. What do I want to accomplish? I’ve learned over the last two years that unless you have some sort of carrot hanging in front of your face, this job can run you into the ground. When that carrot comes to me, I’ll let you know.

Take care all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I Think I See My Own Shadow

In life, knowing your limitations is perhaps one of the most valuable observations you can make about yourself. I say “valuable” because not only can you use this knowledge to help guide you on the road of life, but you can also use this information to see what challenges lie ahead for you and what you might want to overcome. Some people can’t deal with heights, so they find ways to handle it. Others don’t like meat, so they buy fake bacon and fake beef in order to satisfy their cravings. For me, it’s my inability to win at poker. The only difference between me and the previous examples is that I have not yet found a way around the problem.

And yet all around me, people are winning. My friends are winning $500 a night playing poker. My parents paid for their entire vacation playing Blackjack in Vegas. One of my managers won $1,250 in 30 minutes playing craps.

Then there’s me. I have no money and no experience playing cards in casinos. But once I arrived at the $1-$2 no-limit Hold’em tables in Atlantic City, I blow $600 without even realizing it. It’s like I was possessed. And when I DID finally manage to pull myself away, it was so I could hit the bar for 3 hours to think about what I had done (a brilliant decision in a casino). After much Descartes-esque-ian thought and a crapload of video poker, I concluded that I WAS actually omnipotent and the rest of the Hold’em players were idiots. Upon acknowledgement of this epiphany, I walked triumphantly back into the poker room at 2:41 am, slammed the rest of my money down on the table and proceeded to lose it in less than 30 minutes. I believe there are hotlines out there for people like me. Then again, I was on vacation and that is something I never do. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

But after much thought and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that this is God’s plan. My purpose on this earth is to lose money in casinos so that others may win. Lady luck to me is just a vacuous black-hole which sucks both my money and other people’s bad luck in. Without people like me walking around, nobody would gamble, let alone visit America’s arm pit (Atlantic City).

But besides losing a lot of money I didn’t have, my winter was fantastic. I sat on my ass for 8-12 hours a day, every day, staring at a computer screen trying to finish a project my boss bestowed upon me last August. I don’t think I’ve ever truly felt as isolated and alone as I did this past winter. Every time I gazed outside it seemed like the world just took off without me. The new golf season is about to start, and I feel like I’m just learning how to walk again. I think my limited, small doses of human contact have affected my interpersonal communication skills as well, and I’m downright terrified to see its monetary effects on my income this season.

In fact, I’m a little scared of how I might be coming off right now.

But I guess the good news is, I’m writing again, and I’m so excited about this up-coming golf season. I just know I’ll have a lot to share and I can’t wait to hear from all of you as the season progresses.

So what exactly have I been working on all winter? I realize I left everyone very mysteriously for the last couple of months. I apologize. In my last post, I mentioned something to the effect of, “my life took a turn.” Well, it certainly did. And it started last August.

After I had returned from my hiatus in LA, my boss offered something up to me.

“I’ve been thinking about putting a 401(k) plan in place for the caddies. And I’m not sure if that’s something you’d be interested in or not, but if you can figure out how to set it up for me, I’ll let you run it.”

I was floored. I was especially floored because 3 months prior to this conversation I had made it clear that being a Caddie Master was not for me. At the time, he was at a loss for words because there are only two positions in my company. You’re either a Caddie or a Caddie Master. There is no in between. I was torn because I really love working for this company, but I just didn’t know where I might fit in.

Was this a possible niche for me?

So for the past 8 months, I’ve been learning everything I possibly can about 401(k) plans and their structure. How are they put together? How can I shape this thing to help out caddies? Do ACTUAL human beings work at the IRS? (For anyone who has ever had to READ tax-law, this question comes up a lot because you wonder how any human being who has to eat, sleep and take dumps could ever help write or organize all of this information.)

And so here I am, 8 or so months later, heavier, lonelier and more socially inept than ever. I was reading 1984 again and got scared halfway through the process when I started feeling like one of those thoughtless drones whose whole purpose in life was to read and revise documents. But somehow, I finished the 401(k). I finished it. I’m a little nervous to see how the caddies will react, because I know some of them would rather buy a case of beer than stash that money away for a rainy day. But who knows. Maybe if the whole saving process becomes automated and they can actually watch their money grow, they might change their tune. There are a lot of “if’s” involved, but I’m excited to see the outcome either way.

And last but certainly not least, the site design. It’s still very weird for me too, but I just wanted to freshen things up a bit. The logo is still very flexible, and I won’t rest until I find something I’m truly happy with. I think the one I’ve chosen so far is okay, but it reminds me more of a logo for a private club than a website dedicated to poking fun at private clubs. But hey, maybe that’s the sort of irony my logo needs.

My first scheduled loop is this Saturday at a new course in Maryland. If I get a chance to loop before then, I’ll be sure to let you guys know about it. But expect something to read on Saturday. I don’t want to make any promises as of yet about the frequency of my posts this season, but let me just say that my own personal goal is to post SOMETHING every time I’m sent out on the grass. Here’s to another crazy season.

Take care all.