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. 


Kiwi said...

Pretty sure if my 18 yo self walked in the door, he'd kick my ass. Tell me I was an old man and raid my beer fridge. Those were the days.

Tarah said...

Btw Tom, I fly out to Melbourne on Fri to go to the Presidents Cup, after your sojourn following the tour who makes the best watching.

Tom Collins said...

That's a great question Tarah.

After looking over the teams, I think these are my top 3:

1. Bubba Watson - because he does things with the ball you wouldn't think a human could. And take note of how far back in his stance he puts the ball. It's like he comes right down on top of it just to get it up in the air. Fun to watch, and his wife Angie is hard to miss, and she'll probably even talk with you if she's not mobbed already.

2. Ryo Ishikawa - it's worth watching him for a few holes to note the short game. I saw him hit some flop shots at Riviera that I didn't think were possible.

3. Phil Mickelson - not only is he great with the crowd, but it's worth experiencing "the mob" moving from hole to hole, as well as appreciating, first hand, how wild he can be off of the tee. Prepare to duck and marvel at his scrambling ability.

But overall, I'm psyched for you. Should be an amazing time. And Kiwi, you sound like a caddie. That's what everyone said...haha.

Kiwi said...

Sorry man that Tarah comment was actually me, I didn't the other half was logged in on my laptop. So yes there 6 of us guys flying over

Tom Collins said...

That's awesome, dude. Yeah, definitely see Bubba for 9 holes...the creativity is just amazing. I saw him SLICE a 300 yard drive that never got above 15 feet off the ground. I also saw him hit a 384 yard drive in New Orleans during the Zurich Classic. He was downwind, but holy crap. Have a great time.

test said...

Caddying *has* to be fun job, right? Right? Please tell me I'm right? It seems like *the* life. It's funny because I as a cab driver in my 20s. It was the best job I ever had. Except for the not being able to feed my family on the salary of a cab driver part.

Kiwi said...

Still alive? Or a corpse in the bottom of a pot bunker?