6:03 a.m. Radio alarm goes off. For whatever reason, I always set my clock to either be a 3 or a 7, I have no idea why it’s just how I am. It’s a spring Saturday in 2007. While many people my age were sleeping, I was scraping myself out of bed to go to work. I roll out of bed and have the alarm turned off within a second.
Today’s Saturday was likely a 14-hour day. I’d arrive at the course by 7:00 a.m. and sit around for an hour, bullshitting with other caddies. Hopefully, you get out early so it’s not too hot and the better golfers usually play earlier. Luckily for me, I was working the 1-close shift which meant I got an early round. Unfortunately, most players are what are referred to as “hole diggers”, referring to the holes they make on the course when they snap hook balls into the woods. You better find that ball, too, as some idiot paid $14 a sleeve in the pro shop for some Pro V1’s and as they say it’s the arrow, not the Indian.
If I was lucky, the round would clock in at under five hours. This left me enough time to run and grab a slice of pizza before spending the next eight hours in the sun as the second shift of “bag room attendant” began. We were required to wear long pants and muggy New Jersey summers are unforgiving and brutal. I’ve worked at way nicer places that let the bagroom staff wear shorts, but the pro at this place was akin to General Patton. My actual boss was a combination of Moe Szyslak from the Simpsons and Walter Matthau’s Morris Buttermaker from Bad News Bears. He taught me that I must work hard in school or I’ll end up like him. He was a sad, unhappy little man and made sure everyone knew it. The nice part is, I got having the worst boss of my life out of the way and haven’t had a shit boss since.
50-hour weeks were the norm when I wasn’t in school. There’s a certain level of respect one earns on the course. Golf is largely a rich man’s sport and that’s by design. I didn’t celebrate a Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day or any of the other summer holidays until I was in my mid 20’s. It really makes you appreciate days off, I can tell you that. Every Fourth of July, I think about how people used to hit stingers at me in the range cart and smile.
You can always tell from what kind of money people come from. Old money is generally gracious and you’d never know the difference. New money is a mixed bag, the one’s that came from humble beginnings are often super kind as they know what it’s like. The one’s that came from upper middle class are usually money drunk and arrogant. Such is life. Due to this, I go out of my way to be kind to staff as I know what it’s like. 20% tipping is minimum, even if they are shitty because I’ve been there and you never know what’s going on. You always take care of the good ones and you remember the good ones and the bad ones but never the in between.
I’ve met many famous people: Patrick Ewing, Chef Morimoto, a few governors and a diplomat from some southeast Asian country where there were armed guards. Like anything in life, they are like anyone else: a dickhead or not. It always tickles me when I work events now, how frenetic people are and how everything has to be perfect. I’ve worked events that raised in the hundreds of thousands and comparatively, everything else is small potatoes. As Liam Gallagher once said, “You gotta roll with it.”
It’s funny seeing all the college entry scandals going on in the media. I could have told you this. While many people I caddied for or interacted with were genuinely smart people, there were noticeable numbers of those that knew the right people or mommy and daddy paid the right people to make sure Junior gets into a good school. Often, Pops would take Junior out to learn the game of golf as Pops learned later in life and was happy to break 100. Not wanting Junior to fall into the same predicament of learning late in life, Junior needs to have a club in hand as soon as he can. I’ve seen quite a few twosome six-hour rounds with varying levels of self-awareness and in turn, compensation for watching a 25 handicap teach their child the game. These same kids are also what could be described as “functional” and it makes you wonder if the guy’s clearly trophy wife may have been knocking boots with the mailman. In other words, life isn’t fair and having a lot of money can make up for being stupid.
The game of golf has many lessons that go beyond the links. Having spent 11 years immersed in the game, largely in the pursuit of that bread, I can say it’s pretty much like being a stripper but instead of having big fake tits, I sherpa’d many terrible golfers navigate the course. I could usually tell when divorces were coming on. People trust things they wouldn’t with their spouse to their caddie. As a result, I can talk with pretty much anyone. No one is too big or too small, unimportant or anything else. We’re all people and that lesson alone was worth the price of spending my younger years toiling away as many of my friends sat home and jerked off all day. There’s always a lesson and working a shitty job has taught me more than any book or class has. I’m happy for the experiences but man, when it’s hot out, I’m so glad I don’t have to do this ever again.