Last year, late in the summer, I went to the caddyshack at a local country club – a club I caddied at for eight years and is a place that helped shape and inform certain world views which I still hold – and asked for a loop, caddy jargon for work. At the time I’d been out of work for six months and thought that if I got out on the course for a couple loops at my old stomping grounds, perhaps enough material would emerge such that I could string together a few essays about life, golf, the haves and have lesses, the then and the now…and who knows what else. It wasn’t clear what I’d do with those essays but the play sounded good in the huddle so I went with it. I had high hopes, none of which were fulfilled.
For the first part of the application process to be a caddy, I had to take a test about the finer points of caddying and the history of the club. It was an open book test (true story) and I still managed to get one wrong (also true). Thankfully it was a question about the meaning of the club’s name, a conflation of two Native American words, and wasn’t in the study guide.
Following the written test, I had an interview of sorts with the caddie master. When I started caddying over 30 years ago there was no interview, which was a fortunate circumstance as the collection of misfit toys who were the caddy corps back then – with names like Monster, Running Man, and 555RonLee – wouldn’t make it to the first tee today. This is probably a good thing for all parties.
Anyway, as it turns out, the current caddie master is a guy whom I caddied with back then. He also happened to sell fireworks out of his Camaro. When the interview began – really just an informal conversation outside the shack – I got the sense he didn’t remember me, but I remembered him, because, well, when you’re 14 you remember a guy who sells fireworks out of the trunk of his Camaro in the parking lot of a swish country club.
The interview did not go well. I’d just run six miles, hadn’t shaved for a few days, and looking back, didn’t give the job the respect it deserved, or at least the respect Camaro-guy expected. Fair enough. Being dressed down by him in the parking lot was a memorable if not humbling experience, and put me on my back foot so much that my caddying rebirth ended right then and there. No collection of essays. Maybe a t-shirt saying “My dad wanted to caddy and all I got was this lousy blog post”, but no collection of essays. So it goes.
I’ve been around that golf course hundreds of times. My friend’s dad used to drop us off on the street at a distant part of the course – with the admonishment “if you’re in jail, don’t call me” – and we’d climb over the fence with our clubs and play as many holes as we could before being chased off. Good times. But if I never step foot on that course again I can still relive the experience by looking over drawings I made of every hole in the backseat of a VW Rabbit while on a family road trip to Yellowstone or some such place. Every tee, every green, every bunker, every yardage.
Not only that, I’d catalog every golf course we drove by in the middle of the prairie or which I was able to play along the way. Those drawings are an enduring childhood memory and if we take a road trip this summer, instead of, (or at least in addition to), watching a movie or playing a video game, our kids, hopefully, will read or draw or just look out the window. And if my boys ever want to caddy I’ll make sure they’re cleanly shaven.