Wednesday, May 07, 2008

My Adventures As A Caddy

Over on the Terrapins Sports Message board, there was a discussion going on about summer jobs and which were the best. Several mentioned working internship’s, others mentioned working at their parent’s office. Some would lifeguard or work landscaping. Caddying was mentioned and there were a lot of replies and stories about people’s days caddying. So I’d thought look back and share some of my adventures.

I started caddying back in the late '70's at Chevy Chase Club while in high school. This, a few lawns I cut and a paper route for the Washington Post kept cash in my pocket. While in college, I needed a steady summer job so I worked on the Chevy Chase Club golf course maintenance crew. I also caddied there weekends (when I wasn't hung over). It was fun, I was outdoors, the pay was decent and I got to golf a lot, which was the best benefit out there. In addition to doing well out there financially, I can honestly say that the summer’s there at CCC helped me more than any internship or coffee fetching downtown office job would have.

I did two things that helped me succeed as a caddy. One, I asked one of the veteran caddies there (Dallas) to show me how to read greens and two; I did not ever play cards with the veteran caddies there. I saw so many kids lose their loop proceeds in a matter of minute’s playing cards with those guys. Brutal!

I was a little sad to graduate college as I ended up taking an entry level job at a bank that paid lower than my summer job did.

I also caddied there as a weekend gig in the '90's. Every couple of years I would make plans to travel overseas to see my friend Gema in Spain. From April thru September I would work weekends caddying, stash the cash and use it during the two weeks in October in Spain. It was hard work but I had fun earning it and spending it.

The club itself is a nice place and the members I dealt with were very friendly. Some notables I caddied for were U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Secretary of State James Baker, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and a few members of the Washington Redskins.

It helped I knew a lot of the in's and out's of the course thanks to my time on the maintenance staff. In the early '90's I was in my early days of sobriety and the course Starter Jim was also in recovery so he knew I was reliable and he could count on me. I knew when to speak and when to keep quiet and I did my best to treat each member with respect for the four plus hours we were together. In other words I did a lot of "yes siring" and "yes maaming".

It keeps you in shape, that's for sure as you’re carrying two golf bags over a four mile plus golf course in the DC summer heat and humidity. You do need constant water and a small damp towel to keep your neck and body wet as the heat can be rough.

Fast forward to August 2001, I left a job I could not stand at a downtown DC association and I went back to caddying at Chevy Chase and I also worked in the golf shop. The cash kept the bills paid. People were telling me to temp at offices while looking for a job but no way. I could set my own schedule caddying. If I had an AM interview, I'd be on the course in the afternoon. Having a place to go and doing something productive on a day to day basis while looking for another job gave me great confidence. I never got bummed out I wasn’t working full time and I didn't come across as desperate headed into my interviews. Ultimately I got hired by a CPA firm in mid October 2001.

When caddying, we’d get a set wage of $25 per bag and in some cases a tip, while optional, was also included. Here are my Best and Worst tips from my weekend adventures in the early '90's at Chevy Chase.

Best: I got $75 on top of $25 for one bag from a Bridgestone sales rep. A lot of times the regular caddies in the caddy yard would refuse chances to carry one bag, opting for the more lucrative two bag loop. So when they all passed, I took the bag. My thinking was carrying the single is fun as you have more of a one on one relationship with the golfer and it’s a more relaxed walk than a foursome. By the time we were finished, the same caddies who turned down the bag were still sitting in the yard while my pocket had more $ in it. In my earlier days there I learned never to turn down work. The way I looked at it I helped the Starter Jim out. He had a long memory so in the future he’d always make sure to look out for me.

Worst: A quarter from an older gentleman for taking his clubs to his car after his round. I'd just finished my round and was storing the clubs when the gent asked me to take his bag to the car. So I did and talked with him about his round, who he played with, the weather, the typical schmoozing. I must have made quite the impression as a hard working lad as he handed me the quarter and said for me to go get a soda. I did all I could do to not laugh and I was able to say a serious thank you without cracking up. To this day I wasn’t sure if he was pulling a joke on me with the quarter to see my reaction or was he being serious, but stuck in the 1960's as this was a huge tip then.

Like anything else in life, you get what you put into it. All you need to do is show up with a willingness to work and you’re set. I got a lot of good memories, some exercise, great life learning experiences and a lot of laughs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Post. Every adolescent I work with, on a daily basis during the school year, should read this. So many teens feel "entitled" to earnings. You have got to work to earn it. Karen