A day in the life of an Ocean Course Looper

In this blog, you’ll read about what it is like to caddie at one of the most difficult, beautiful, golf courses on the planet: The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island.

History of the Ocean Course

  • Located on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. About an hour from Charleston. 
  • Designed by Pete Dye 
  • Built in 1991 
  • Hosted the 2012 PGA Championship, won by Rory McCllroy 
  • Hosted the 2021 PGA Championship, won by Phil Mickelson 
  • Hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup, won by the good guys.

Why I Loop at the Ocean Course

  • It is one of the most beautiful properties in the Country, and I get to live in an awesome city - Charleston, SC. 
  • The guys I work with: The caddie program at the Ocean Course consists of over 100 guys. Some are golfers, some are guys trying to escape the corporate world, some are life long caddies who don’t know anything else in this life. I am a little bit of all 3 of those options. There is one thing that all of our caddies have in common though: They’re all great guys who love to be around people, and spend time around the game of golf. Otherwise, how the heck would they put up with 95 degree days, rain, wind, and 22 handicaps passive aggressively questioning their advice? 
  • Playing privileges. When I started my career at Ocean, I was pursuing professional golf. That is not the case anymore, but I still love to play, and looping at Ocean gives me a chance to do that.

Morning Commute

The morning commute to the Ocean Course from Charleston is one heck of a commute. It’s about an hour from door to door, usually a little longer. Two hours of driving each time I go to work is a big part of my life. Sometimes, it feels like wasted time. So. Much. Driving. But there are always ways to make the best out of any situation. I enjoy a nice coffee in the car every morning, and I listen to podcasts and audio books. Sometimes I think I may have learned more during my daily commute than I did in college - SHOUTOUT UNC Asheville!

Pre-Loop Jobs

Compared to other caddie programs I have been a part of, Ocean Course is actually quite organized. Don’t tell any of my colleagues I said that. Unlike most caddie programs where everyone shows up at 6am and waits around til their name is called, we actually have a schedule. This is the system: You show up two hours before your scheduled loop, do some busy work around the clubhouse for an hour or so, then meet your players about an hour before the tee time. This busy work can consist of a few different tasks: 
  • Filling coolers with water and ice
  • Driving groups on the shuttle from hole 9 to hole 10 (about ¼ mile)
  • Standing at the bag drop, helping players with their bag
  • Picking the driving range
All of this extra work can be a bit of a bummer sometimes, but it's necessary to keep the course running like a well oiled machine. (Once again, don’t tell my colleagues I said that)

Meeting the players

The ideal situation is meeting the players at least 30 minutes before we head down to the first tee. This gives us a chance to get to know the guys or girls, but more importantly, make sure their bags are OK. Some people show up with bags, that straight up can not be carried. We carry two bags every day, one on each shoulder. So we really need to make sure the bags are light enough, have working legs, a decent handle, and a good strap. If any of these factors aren't perfect, it can be a really long day for the looper. If a players' bag has any issues, we switch it into one of our Ocean Course carry bags. If the players' bag is good, but just packed to the gills with useless junk, we just take the junk out and the bag is good to go.

The Loop Itself

Ten minutes before the tee time, the group will head down to the first tee on the shuttle. Typically, a group will be four players, and two caddies. Once we get down to the first hole, the starter will give his spiel, and we tee off. A round of golf at the Ocean Course typically takes about 5 hours. Timing is everything in caddying - which ball do I go to first? Which putt do I read first? How do I get a head start while that guy is hitting his shot? It all becomes second nature after a while. The name of the game at the Ocean Course is PLAY FAST. Our tee sheet is filled up almost every day, and everyone wants to get all 18 holes in. 

Reading the room

Some players are awesome, some are not. Some players can really play, some players have never touched a club in their life. Every day and every group is different. You need to know what your players want from you. Do they want perfect reads on every putt and every yardage possible? Or do they want to relax, and pick the ball up after a bad shot? The ladder is ideal for caddies 99% of the time, but the former can be the most fulfilling if the golfer is invested, trusts you as the caddie, plays well, and is a good guy. 

Dealing with Jerks

Some players like to blame their caddie for their poor play. Sometimes it’s so obvious, you can tell they’re almost hoping to miss the putt or hit a bad shot so they can stare at the caddie as if it was his fault. 
Here’s an example: The caddie tells the player to aim at the left edge of the cup on a putt. The player says “Ok, i’m going to trust you” which is code for “If that’s not a perfect read i’m going to make your life hell for 5 hours”. The player proceeds to hit the putt way too hard, and it stays on the left edge and misses. He then proceeds to say “It didn’t break, I knew I should have played it straight.”
 You can’t do much about these guys. Just give them facts (yardages, and reads), not opinions. This way they have nothing to get mad about, and you don’t have to speak to them as much.

Caddying for a good dude 

Some players understand a working relationship, and really value the caddies' opinion and trust it. These are the players who happen to play the best round of their life on the hardest course they have ever played. They trusted their caddie, let the caddie do the thinking for them all day, and after they tapped in on 18, they realized they just broke 80 for the first time in their life. In golf, thinking is the enemy. If you let the caddie do all of the thinking for you, all you have to do is swing. It makes golf much easier, almost as easy as other sports.
Looping at the Ocean Course is one of the great pleasures of my life, and simultaneously, the most grueling job I have had. Every day is different. The conditions, the players, and most of all, the wind. I meet hundreds of new players each year, see a lot of great shots, even some miracle shots. The range of people I loop for is enormous - Golfers playing the first round of their life, country club players who think they’re a 2 handicap but are really an 11, even TOUR players. All things considered, looping at Ocean is a great experience.

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