How I Spent My Summer Vacationâ€”Caddies
By bkuehn1952 on 7/24/13
oober bkuehn1952 recently golfed his way around the Motherland â€” Scotland â€” and he was nice enough to share his experiences with us. Here is his second guest column about his recent trip for your reading pleasure! If you missed his first one, click here. Enjoy!
During our trip to Scotland we were fortunate to have the use of caddies during many of our rounds. Golf carts (or buggies as they are known on the other side of the pond) are pretty much absent from most courses. Golfers either carry, use a trolley (push/pull cart) or employ a caddie. During my time in Scotland I saw a single motorized cart in use and that was a single-rider version used by individuals with a physician's letter.
Unlike Ireland, our caddies were universally professional. In Ireland they may have a stable of professional caddies at some courses but from my limited experience the quality is hit or miss across the Irish Sea. In fact, the Saturday we played Waterville, the entire caddie staff had enjoyed Friday night so much, no one showed up Saturday morning. In Scotland they may be hung over but they show up.
Scottish caddies also will not attempt to double bag. Carrying two bags inevitably short changes one player or the other. My experience in Ireland with a double-bagging caddie was I spent much of my time standing in the fairway left to my own devices as caddie and partner wandered the heather in search of errant drives. Our Scottish caddies stuck with their man for the most part unless they assisted another caddie in searching for a ball.
All the Scottish caddies were pretty accomplished players in their own right and it seemed like they would do a quick visual assessment of the player after the first swing. Their advice would then be tempered by the player's ability. One of our players was a former professional who had qualified for the Open and made the cut. He also won the Singapore Open on the Asian Tour. While those accomplishments are almost 2 decades old, he is still an extremely accomplished player. His caddie correctly determined he was not going to be dispensing advice except for possibly pointing out unseen hazards. I enjoyed needling the caddie about how quiet he was since most of the time our caddies were not reticent to inject their opinion.
Our caddies on the Old Course were the most talkative. At the start of our round on the Old Course, John advised his player that he was going to find a stick so he could give him a good whack if he insisted on not following his advice. A bit later, Tom told his player that his last effort "looked like Donkey Kong swinging a broom" and he expected a better effort next shot. When we got to the "Road Hole", my caddie told me to hit my drive over the Lion logo on the railroad shed (it is actually a replica of the original shed with hotel offices inside). If you go a bit too far right you hit the hotel. Bailing left puts you in the hay. The only play is up and over the shed. I hit what I considered a good ball just a bit left of the logo with a slight fade. As I reached down to pickup my tee I anticipated a nice compliment from my caddie, Colin, only to hear his voice boom out, "You big chicken!"
My best caddie experience was with Pete at Kingsbarns. Pete had just graduated from St. Andrews University and was extending his care free life a few more months before diving into the job market. He asked me how far I carried my driver (200-210) and what my handicap was (8-9). We went over my clubs and he asked when I used each of them and the approximate distance. Pete gave my 3-wood its new nick name, "The B". My 3-wood head cover was constructed from my granddaughter's soccer sock. When she sewed the head cover she did not know one put numbers on the cover so she put a "B" for my name, Brian. I told Pete the story behind the head cover and it instantly became, "The B". When we would face a hole where driver might get into trouble, Pete would always say, "Let's hit The B, here."
I envy the Scots with their tradition of employing caddies. It is a great change of pace to walk a course with someone able to dispense solid advice and take care of your clubs. I hope every oober gets an opportunity to have a caddie experience. It is a great way to play golf.
This was written by Brian Kuehn, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.
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[ comments ]
A friend of mine played with a caddy at some high end club in TN and he said it was the best golfing experience he had. I look forward to playing with a caddie one day but most clubs here don't employ them. Thanks for the read.
Matt McGee says:
I have never played golf with a caddy. I'd like to.
I second Brian's caddie recommendation. It brings a whole new aspect to the game and your round. If there are no clubs close that employ caddies, search one out maybe while on vacation at a resort or nearby. Trust me, it is worth it regardless of skill level
I grew up in Pittsburgh PA. I caddied at both Oakmont CC and Longvue CC.
It was a great job.
But for an average golfer wanting to save money, its not the way to go.
For 18 holes, $50 was considered the minimum tip.
Ive never seen a cart fee that high.
Just booked my first trip to Bandon Dunes this fall, and at the advice of almost anyone who's played there, we're getting a caddie...for the first round...for the experience. After all the other expenses of getting to Bandon I can't afford a caddie for the other three rounds. Really looking forward to the experience though.
joe jones says:
Brian. I enjoyed your caddy description very much. . My experiences with the baggers at The Old Course and Royal Troon provided our group with sound advice as well as a wry sense of humor.Your caddy Pete is more like some of the old timers in my day. They could take a look at your swing and club you perfectly. They also knew every nook and cranny and could read greens like crazy.There are more bad spots to avoid on St Andrews than any other course I have played in my life. Without their local knowledge I probably would have visited every one of them.
They may employ caddies at the top end courses in Scotland, but trust me, at most courses there are none. So I'm not so sure it's a 'tradition' as such. (I do live in Scotland btw!)
My only two experiences of caddies have been in Thailand (v. good) and India. I played a 9-hole course in Agra - when I arrived 4-5 young guys almost came to blows deciding who should be my caddie. In the end two of them followed me round, one to carry the bag and one to... well, who knows what he was there for? Certainly not providing me with tees anyway!
Thanks for sharing, Brian. Sounds like a fun trip.
Last year my wife and I had the opportunity to play The Prairie Club in Valentine, NE where we were required to have a caddy the first time we played each course. We decided to ride in a cart and share one caddy who rode on the back of the cart. I just didn't feel right walking and making him carry two bags and we really didn't want to pay for two caddies. It was my first time with a caddy. It took me a couple of holes to remember to give him my clubs after hitting a shot. I think it was the second hole I had used a wedge to chip on to the green. When I was done putting he was holding my wedge and he held out his hand to get my putter. I was holding out my free hand to get my wedge back. It just felt wrong to keep giving my clubs to someone to have them put them back in my bag.
I really did enjoy the experience and he was very valuable. Just finding some of the tee boxes would have been difficult without some local knowledge.
White Witch in Jamaica is a very hilly course. I took a cart and put my bag on it, but the caddy ran ahead to spot for me. I couldn't have walked the course if my life depended on it and this guy ran the whole thing. I wouldn't have wanted to get in a fist fight with him.
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