What was it like being Caddy Master at Pinehurst in the early 90's?

When did you take the caddy master position?

1991

Why did you want to be a caddy master? 
To play golf and try to make it as a pro
 
What is your role when players start showing up for tee times? How do you meet the players and introduce them to their caddy?
Caddies are NOT REQUIRED at Pinehurst, so about half the guys rode in golf carts.  I never knew who was taking caddies until they came to my office window to request caddies. When guys requested caddies, I would pull the caddies from the “Bench”, the guys who did not get out the previous day 1st, and then go down the list when the bench was emptied based on who showed up 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc that AM
How do you decide which caddies go with which groups throughout the day? 
Basically caddies were chosen based on when they showed up and where they were on the list, no favoritism at all.   Many players however had caddies they knew and wanted those caddies.  If that was the case, those chosen caddies went out regardless of when they arrived on site.
 
What do your caddies do before and after they loop?
BEFORE: Played cards.  Slept.  Read the paper.  
AFTER:  They left unless a 2nd loop was possible.
  
What was the caddy culture at Pinehurst #2 like in the early 90’s?
 It was a mess in 1991.  Caddies were drinking, unkept, caddie knowledge was really inconsistent.  I instituted a Caddie Evaluation system where the caddies knew the player would assess their performance.  3 poor performances and that caddie was dismissed.  I also introduced a caddie bib and uniform inventory so the guys all looked professional.  The bad caddies were weeded out and we ended up (after training) with the finest caddie corps in the country at a great course like Pinehurst # 2.  
 
What are the caddies themselves like? 
I could write a book.  Generally very funny and they liked me, and I liked them.  Most were divorced with kids, many were absentee fathers.  No female caddies. 
I have stories on basically EVERY CADDIE, most are really funny.  
Educated? Most did not finish HS
Golfers? Most played, only a couple could break 90
Happy at work?  Very few.  This had to do with being black in NC. It was not an easy life
Old or young?  Average age was 55-60.  Very few guys younger than 45.  Several in their 70’s 
Diverse group?  63 black caddies.  1 white guy  (Eddie Mac) 
What are some common issues that happened throughout the day?
No Shows on the bench:  those guys went to BOTTOM of the list.  They had to learn to take responsibility for their actions and show up on time
Arguments over cards:  no gambling was allowed but they guys tried to sneak it in anyway
RAIN:  Guys would leave, lose their spots, the sun would come out, they’d come back and had to be told they should NOT have left.
There was no toilet which led to some pretty unusual circumstances given the guys were not allowed in the clubhouse.  
“Members got #2” was caddie speak for NO WORK today because members never took caddies, they all had their own cart.  That has since changed.
What are some common complaints you heard from caddies? How were those complaints typically dealt with?
 To be honest in 1991-95, the caddies had almost no right to complain.  I would do my best to help them but management could care less.  This was before CME (caddy master incorporated) came in, which changed the entire dynamic of the program (IE all the caddies were let go essentially).   It was a fascinating look into how a corporation could run over workers with impunity.  Since I was supportive of the caddies (They had SO MUCH TO OFFER unseen to this corporation), I was also not very high on the corporation’s list.
Do you have any stories about players complaining about their caddy, or praising their caddy? 
How much time do you have? I have a BOOK to tell.    
Fletcher Gaines:  he knew the greens so well he could tell when the greens were last mowed and the approximate WEIGHT of the players in the previous group.  (Got a great Masters story-Fletch caddies in the 1982 Masters for US Am champ Nathaniel Crosby)  “Something’s gonna happen today”
What makes a good caddy?
  • Clean and On time
  • In shape, can walk (It’s a physical job)
  • Knows the game but these basics can be taught
  • Has personality but NOT overbearing
  • Gets along well with others.    Patient, understanding
  • Was there anything in particular about Pinehurst #2 that made your life easier or harder than caddy masters at some courses?
      Easier:  the range and 1st tee are only 100 yards apart.  Super easy to assign caddies, go the range, control the operation
    Harder:  # 10 was as far away from the clubhouse as you could get, about 2 miles.  When caddies went out, I did not see them again for 5 hours unless I toured the course, which became more frequent as the operation became more cleanly managed. 
    You caddied a little in addition to being the CM. 
    Do you have any interesting stories?
     Hundreds. One that comes to mind is changing my place of birth to increase my tip.  Being in NC, a Yankee from Connecticut HURT my tips.  So I learned a southern accent and told my players (if they were from the south) that my name was Billy Bob and I was from Joe-Ju  (Georgia)    Seriously.  It worked.  My tips went up.  
    Have you caddied for anyone noteworthy?   
    Arnie and Alan Shephard, the 1st man in space and the guy who hit the golf ball on the moon.
    What is the craziest thing that you’ve ever seen while caddying?
    I caddied a TON as a kid in CT, basically all summer every summer.  Birchwood CC in Westport, CT.
  • I saw a guy top a ball so hard that the ball went STRAIGHT UP and knocked his glasses off his head
  • I saw a guy shagging (another wonderful golf tradition that is gone–shagging balls) for Dick Siderowf (2 time British Am champion) who was fielding 4 irons at about 220 yards.  The kid didn't anticipate the bounce very well off the dew (it was 8 AM), the ball skidded off the dew and hit the young man right in the nuts.  Down he went in pain.  Siderowf, 210 yards away, didn’t know what happened so he kept firing 4 irons at the guy.  Excellent target.  
  • I once was forecaddying about 150 yards in front of the ladies tee, I stood under a weeping willow in the shade, holding my bag upright.  My player’s tee shot hit the willow above my head and the ball rattled around a bit before falling DIRECTLY INTO THE UPRIGHT BAG
  • I saw a player once NOT put the parking brake on in his cart as he went to hit his shot.  The cart rolled backwards about 50 yards directly into a creek.  The cart did a 360 in mid air almost, all the clubs, CRUSHED under the cart and in the creek.  

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