The Caddie Doomsday Clock
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
//Ticking down the final moments before diving into a loop//
There’s a giddy, but focused intensity that swirls in the air at a caddie shack right before a loop. Particularly on weekend mornings, when groups are going off like Pop Rocks every eight minutes on the front and back nines, or when 45 foursomes tee it up from each hole on the course simultaneously in a shotgun-start tournament, a thick supply of caddies is in need. And like clockwork, they turn up en masse to take part in the action and score some cash.
I’ve seen upwards of 100 caddies sardine-pack themselves into a cart barn on days like this, and it becomes the unenviable job of the Caddie Master to wrangle the group of heathens together and get everyone situated ahead of go-time. Tee sheet in-hand, the Caddie Master will typically share a few words of encouragement, endure bouts of inappropriately-timed laughter coming from the group of stoned caddies in the back, and dole out some light ribbing to a 15 year-old C-caddie who got reamed out on the course the day before by a notorious asshole. The kid likely deserved it.
Loop assignments come next: running through the tee sheet and calling out who will be toting whose bags for the upcoming round. Each caddie-golfer pairing rattled off the roster is met with a quiet celebration or an audible groan, depending on the players’ reputation, largely determined by how much they’ll pay.
Once assignments have been given out, a collective hush falls upon the shack; it’s ten minutes until we make the march up to meet with our players. This resembles a scene from Apocalypse Now, where there’s a stillness—a coming-to-terms, of sorts—before diving headfirst into the mayhem. The caddies take these last minutes to look inward, spinning through their mental rolodex of who’s bags they’re carrying—if they pay well, if they’ll let you read their putts, if you can get away with giving them shit for hitting a poor shot.
Just as contentious as which golfers you get paired with is who’s on the other half of the loop; which other caddie you’ll be running the floor with. This variable is nearly, if not just as important as who you’re looping for. Why? Managing a successful loop for a foursome is a team effort. You must rely on your caddie counterpart to help tend pins, rake bunkers, sprint out to fore-caddy on the next hole while you head up green duty, track down wayward balls, filling divots, and most importantly to keep the group’s energy light and positive. And because, at the end of the day, you’ll only be getting paid for the bags you carry, it’s imperative to be paired with a decent jock to ensure you’re not stuck doing a mess of extra work.
So who’s it gonna be? Some lethargic high school senior who doesn’t give enough of a shit to do a good job? The caddie shack’s resident junkie known colloquially as McSkullfucker, who will literally be nodding off while fore-caddying? Two first-day C-caddies attempting to carry a bag each that you’ll have to babysit around the course? The biggest requisite in my book is getting matched up with someone who—at least to the players’ faces—takes this shit seriously and can move quickly. Caddies that slack on the course are quickly identified and ostracized by the rest of the shack. You don’t need to get along with your other half; you just need to get the job done, and get that cash.
The caddies are starting to gear up and get their bodies right before this long haul. Mannix, a six-foot-five former basketball player in his 60’s is strapping up his knee braces. Tony is funneling ibuprofen down his gullet to preempt some lower back pain resulting from 20-plus years hoofing bags. And McSkullfucker’s got a knife in his hand, etching out a new hole on his belt to keep his shorts up. Problem is, his belt’s already around his waist, bare assed in the back of the shack, and he’s doing his famous lean. I’m just waiting for him to accordion himself over and slash up his femoral artery—he probably wouldn’t feel a thing.
It’s four minutes to go, and it’s time to run a final kit-check—making sure you’ve got your towel, yardage scope, divot sand mix, and the miscellaneous bits that good caddies learn to have on-hand so they’re prepared for anything in a pinch. This is when many shack inhabitants will power smoke a final butt and get some last-minute ball-busting in before digging out of the trench and making themselves presentable for their soon-to-be bosses.
And over the top we go. Time to get that bread.