While working at a private club in college, the course was undergoing some re-sodding renovations around both the tee boxes and the greens. As a result of this, the grounds crew was disposing of the old sod down near the cart barn. Well, my fellow golf operations staffers and I decided that we were going to create a new tee box made out of the old sod next to the cart barn. We took great pride in watering this tee box and using the divot mix to help nurture it. During down times, we would utilize this freshly groomed tee box as a teeing ground to take some swings with a demo 6-iron from the pro shop. We would send range balls flying down over the hill and into the woods and would often times make games out of it by trying to hit it over a specific tree in the woods. Well, one day the pro shop received a call from an angry neighbor who was claiming that range balls were flying into her neighborhood coming from the direction of the private club. Unbeknownst to us, there was an apartment complex down over the hill from where we were pumping range balls into the woods off of our well taken care of tee box. Fortunately, I was on the receiving end of this call in the pro shop and claimed ignorance on the subject. Nonetheless, that was the end of our range practice down by the cart barn.
Worked in a cart barn for one summer. The other guys working in the barn were local high schoolers, I was a student a nearby university. second or third shift working, I get a call on the radio from the pro shop asking for more bags of range balls. I take the range picker out and think to myself, “this can’t be that hard, I’ve seen this done 1000 times.” The driving range sits between 2 large mounds, think stadium course style mounds and narrows at the very end, probably 15 yards wide max. I start on the right side, head about 250 out, make a left, start going up the hillside, try to turn 180 degrees to head back down the hillside and the front corner of the picker digs into the ground, flips the baskets in the front and all the balls come out of the baskets. luckily only one guy on the range at that time and there was no way he was getting out to me so I got to pick up probably 200 plus balls by hand before being told the range picker doesn’t work on the hillside and we get those ones manually when the range is dead.
I was caddying for a guy a few years ago at a local course during a tournament. A course I know really well. I’d never met him before that weekend, but he was supposedly a big shot pro in his home state. He reminded me of a cross between John Rahm and Bubba Watson on a bad day. Definitely not a cool customer.
We get to day 2 and he’s spraying the ball all over the place. Cussing, swearing, really pissed off. 4-over on the day, 3-over for the tourney…way outside the cut.
We get to the par 5 ninth hole. A long, winding hole with a double dogleg. Kind of an architectural travesty in my opinion. But, anyways…the guy hits a good drive down the right side of the fairway and actually has a line on the green to cut the second dogleg. I check my book…back pin location, 4 paces from the back, 3 from the left. 235 back, 200 front. Bunker guarding the front left, but given the pin location he can run the ball up on the front of the green. Long is dead. I give him the numbers.
He’s checking with his rangefinder and NOTHING that I told him checks out. He’s gunning the flag at 190. I’m thinking 230. He’s pissed off. “What the hell are you here for?”
I’m totally dumbfounded. Check pin location again, check his rangefinder. 190. What the hell? He pulls his 180 club and gives it a rip. He’s still pissed. “Don’t you know this course?”
We walk around the dogleg and crest a rise in the fairway and I can tell something isn’t right. The flag is there, but it’s not on the green. It was wedged in the bunker right in front of the green. As I’m walking up, I see a bunch of kids laughing in the neighborhood next to the course…not hard to imagine the pranksters in that instance. They thought this was HILARIOUS.
Ironically, so did my loop. He promptly apologized and hit an amazing 3rd shot to within 2 feet for a tap in birdie.
I used to caddy up at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Some of the caddies were asked to stick around for tournament week and caddy in the pro-am. I was fortunate enought to carry a bag for an amatuer playing with Jim Furyk.
Furyk had Fluff (Mike Cowan) caddying for him at this point so it was like I got to walk alongside two tour celebrities instead of one. Fluff was super nice to me (I was probably 16 years old at the time) and gave me a ton of tips on how to be a good caddy. I was hanging on every word.
On hole 15, the group had all hit their drives and we were walking down the fairway when Fluff realized he had dropped Furyk’s yardage book somewhere on the previous hole. Furyk needed that book. All of their notes were in it and the Colonial tournament started the following day. They had a quick discussion and Fluff decided he needed to go back and look for the book. He pointed at me and signaled for me to come over. I did. Fluff then said to me “can you carry Jim’s bag along with the one you’re getting paid to carry?”
Absolutely. I carried Jim’s bags the final 3 and a half holes (along with my loops bag) and Furyk went par/birdie/birdie/birdie. I never gave him club advice or read any of his putts but when we were walking off the course, Furyk gave me his glove and shook my hand. Fluff walked up just in time to hear Jim tell me that I was the best caddy he had ever worked with. Then he laughed when Fluff said “I heard that.”
I was able to interview Fluff when he was still caddying for Tiger. He came back to his college Alma Mater and I got 15 minutes with him. Super nice guy, very soft spoken, and it was great to talk to him.
I forecaddied in highschool at a club that proudly boasted to new caddies they got to wear the same jumpsuits worn at Augusta. I thought it was kind-of cool until I realized it was June in Oklahoma and a “reasonable” temperature over the next few months would be 95 degrees. I went from being a reasonably skinny highschooler to a beanpole. Got to caddie for the country singer Pat Green at that job the morning after a show…very hung over, good tipper.
You’re speaking my language, @timshel. The caddie coveralls!
The trick is to rock those bad boys without any undergarments, buddy. I took my cue from Angelo Argea. If it’s good enough for the Golden Bear’s caddy, it’s good enough for me. Free and Breezy!
The only complaints I ever got are when the coveralls are the all-white, thin material. I try to not lay down on the green to read butts…err…putts anymore in those.
This didn’t happen to me but it happened a few years prior at the course I worked at.
Our 18th green is guarded by a pond. One of our fiery members finished a rough round by dunking one in the water. He promptly chucks his entire bag in the pond. There is then a steep walk up to the clubhouse, as he gets to the clubhouse he realizes his keys were in his bag. He then pays the backshop kid to go down and retrieve his bag. The backshop kid does and after fishing out the keys for the member promptly turfs the bag back in the water and drives home
A legendary tale around our course
I worked at a high-scale public facility a little outside of Denver the summer of 15. I was a cart guy, and I’m working on the Friday of the US Open. I worked 10 hours the previous day, was in the 9th hour of this shift on a very busy day, it was 90 degrees, I was tired, getting irritable, and wanted to go home and watch FOX’s exceptionally bad coverage of their first US Open.
We had somewhere around 7-8 carts waiting to go in the barn and get washed. More than usual. They weren’t parked in the most organized manner, and there were three in the first row. I went to the one on the right, and I went in passenger side, because there was no way I could get in driver side because of how close it was to the cart on its left. The course has an electric fleet, and I don’t know if this is a common problem for electric carts, but I’d noticed my first month working there that some carts wouldn’t go right away when you first hit the throttle, and needed to be pushed down more, for whatever reason.
Because I was tired, lazy, and a bit cocky, I sit myself down on the passenger seat and use my left foot to hit the throttle. I’m right handed and right footed. The left side of my body is useless, so I should have known better than to do that. But the cart doesn’t start at first, hence my anecdote above, so I give it more gas, and it just shoots off the blocks like Usain Bolt in the 100m. I was not at all prepared for that to happen, I can’t get my left foot onto the brake because I’m an idiot and was so surprised by what transpired, stay on the gas, and drive the cart straight into the wall. Cracked the bar that holds the windshield, dented the left side of the cart, and obviously dented the wall.
Could have been worse though. A coworker of mine was walking out, towards the carts, while this happened, and he was right in front of the cart when it first took off. I still can’t believe he got out of the way. Had he not, I’d have pinned this guy right in between the cart and the wall and at the very least broken his leg. I got scolded the next day at work, explained I was exhausted and just had a lapse in concentration. My boss forgave me, and told me to take Sunday off to recharge. So had I not crashed a golf cart into the wall of the cart barn, I wouldn’t have seen the wonderfulness that was the final round of the US Open at Chambers Bay. Worth it.
This is one I normally reserve for friends over half a dozen cold drinks, but what the hell…
TL:DR: Michael Bolton’s life is far more valuable than yours or mine will ever be.
If you know Palm Springs, you know there are a lot of casinos. These casinos have concert halls where slightly-over-the-hill and way-over the-hill bands play (Kenny Loggins, Lionel Richie, Styx, Phil Collins, and even @jwfickett favs like Iron Maiden.) And one particular weekend in June Michael Bolton was coming to town.
June in “the desert” as Palm Springs is known, is hot. Not oppressive hot, but hot. Most people who spend winters there go back to whatever cold state they’re from and the desert gets really quiet. The club I worked at became an absolute ghost town. On a typical day in the summer I’d see 2 players max, but most days I’d see no one all day. Little did I know soon I’d be in for a huge surprise.
The GM of our club called from wherever he was on vacation and said “Hey, I’ve just got off the phone with Michael Bolton’s manager. He’s coming to play golf tomorrow with Michael and another guy.” I kind of laughed and then he said, "No, I’m dead serious.“
So the next day I pull up two carts from the cart barn and I just chill in the golf shop watching SportsCenter reruns waiting for any sign of life. The phone rings and its the security gate telling me that the Bolton party has arrived. A minute later I look out the window and there’s a black Suburban pulling up to the parking lot. A guy gets out of the passenger side and he’s wearing all black, black aviator shades, heavily-gelled jet black hair (Hair Club For Men?) and he looks like a mixture of Panthers coach Ron Rivera and Edward James Olmos. Big, intimidating guy. “Are you Lars?” (totally butchered my name) “Yes, that’s me. You must be with the Bolton party.” He confirms, and tells me he’s “security” and asks to see the golf carts. I point to the carts and say “those are yours.” He walks over to the carts and starts to inspect them. Not to see if they’re clean and have water and towels, but rather to inspect them. Like a Secret Service style inspection for bombs or recording devices. He’s running his hand under the chassis, picking up the seat to check the battery carriage, looking in the wheel wells for any evidence of subterfuge. I mean…I’m just standing there just flabbergasted like, damn, dude?. When did Michael Bolton become Pope? The carts pass his security standards and then he’s like where’s the locker room?” and I’m like “sorry it’s closed.” This is clearly a problem because Michael was expecting full club access. I advise him that they can change in the pro shop, which I never should have done because then he says “OK, I’ll need to take a look at that.” So we walk in the pro shop and he gives it a thorough once-over (it passes.)
We walk back to the suburban and he chirp-chirp hits his walkie-talkie cell phone and says “we’re good” and Michael Bolton and his manager finally emerge from the vehicle. Bolton’s a nice guy, his manager was equally nice and as they open the back I only see one golf bag so I ask if they need rental clubs. “No, Michael’s the only one playing today.” Weird. “OK, No problem.” I say. They come into the pro shop and try to pay, but we didn’t accept payment from two-time Grammy winners, if you know what I mean. A quick change of shoes and they were off. Bolton’s in a cart with his manager, and the security guy is riding solo watching for any possible threat(s) that may arise, despite being the only people on the entire golf course.
About 2.5 hours go by and they finish. Michael and his manager come in to the shop to say thank you and leave a hefty cash tip. And then…Bolton reaches into his pocket and says “I don’t know if you’ve got plans later but I’d like to invite you to my show. Here’s some tickets if you’d like to bring any friends.” He hands me four tickets. “Wow. Thank you. Thank you so much, Mr. Bolton. Very generous of you.” He seemed surprised that I was so grateful and he genuinely asked me, “Yeah, man, You like music?” Clearly, I had sold the appreciation a little too hard. I really just wanted to lock up the shop and bail. Instead, now I’m in a music conversation with Michael Bolton. “You bet. Been mostly listen to Radiohead, The Roots, Groove Armada, a little Widespread today. But, yeah, thanks a lot for these tickets.” Essentially I’m really saying ‘I’m kind of a music snob and I don’t listen to your elevator pop.’ And then the look on his face completely changed. He totally knew I was going to give the tickets to either the security guard or the guy working at the Circle K on Portola the second I left work. There was no way I was going to his concert and he knew it. Then he left. Saddened. I never saw him again. It was kind of like the scene in “Office Space” but in real life, with the real Michael Bolton.
For me, this story has always been more of a surreal pop-culture-meets-life story than a golf story, but now it’s part of The Refuge lore. I’ll close with this: Bolton’s security detail may have been a little over-zealous but if there’s one thing to take away from this story, it’s that Michael Bolton is one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. And he’s a pretty solid player.
I also worked at a course in Jacksonville, Fla that had a little short game area, with a bunker, chipping area, and a little green that was right next to a lake and had a pretty steep embankment going from the green into the lake. Needless to say, one dewy morning, one of our not so awake greens staff on a triplex wasn’t paying attention and tried to do a turn on the side of the hill, luckily the triplex didn’t flip over but it did slide right down the hill and into the pond about 8 feet deep with him in tow. I saw it all happened and could only laugh because he rode it all the way in with a look of terror as to why it wouldn’t go back up the hill. He wasn’t employed much longer after that.
Never worked at a course myself but my best friend from high school worked at the local 9 hole muni that we all grew up playing. It was basically a day care, parents would drop their 12-18 year olds off at 8AM and pick them up at 8PM and we would just play all day. So many stories. Here’s 2.
My buddy started working there when we were like 16. He manned the “pro shop”. I went over one evening to hang, watch TV, putt around. He had to go get the flagsticks before dark when it closed. So me and another kid volunteered to do it for him. We took the cart that had the governor taken off of it. It had rained a bit that day and when we were coming back down 1 fairway towards the clubhouse, with all the flagsticks in tow, we hit an unexpected hill, got airborne, and spun completely out when we landed. We were both violently #ejected from the cart and it ended up about 20 yards down the fairway mere inches from slamming into a tree. Other than getting our clothes completely muddy, we were fine. The best part is this other kid who was with me is now the starting goalie for the US Olympic Hockey team this year.
Second story reminds me of @clubproguy. The head greenskeeper at this place was a pretty good player. He would tell us stories about playing mini tours. We were kids so we believed him but looking back, I know half the stuff he told us was complete bs. Our club championship each year was “sponsored” by Titleist. And for like 3 years in a row, he would tell us all that Jose Maria Olazabal was going to make an appearance. He never did. And I never saw JMO in person until about 20 years later at Master’s practice round where I saw him hook two shots into the woods left/long on #12 (yes, par 3).
haha @CaddieCoveralls ours were all white - there is a fine line between a lack of undergarments and sweating through white material without any undergarments…one I teetered back and forth on for multiple summers!
I worked grounds at my local course growing up. A great little spot in small town Willmar, MN called Eagle Creek Golf Course. Woody the sup keeps the greens immaculate and we were one of the only courses in West Central MN that hand mowed greens. I hope they still do that, those things rolled true.
Anyway, I was 15 and was headed out to rake bunkers in a sand pro at 6 in the morning when I saw a tin of dip sitting in the cup holder. I had never dipped before, but was curious. I proceeded to grab a generous pinch (grizz green), pop it in my lip and keep going. Fast forward 45 minutes of spinning in tight fast circles and I was headed to the back 9 when I noticed I was feeling weird. I stopped the sand pro and hopped off. Before I could take my first step the course started spinning hard and I bit the dust, landed on my face and spent the next 30 minutes hurling my guts out. I finally made it back to the clubhouse, told Woody I ate too many donuts that morning and walked my bike home. To this day I cant handle the smell of anything wintergreen.
While I was never technically on the payroll, I spent the majority of my formative years hanging out at the no longer existant club in Fort Lauderdale where my Dad and Uncle were members.
Made friends with all the younger guys working there and would routinely clean clubs for them at the end of the day when they wanted to chill in the cart barn with the bottle of Wild Turkey that never seemed to get finished. The deal was I got to keep 25% of my tips. 14 year old me was thrilled with that deal.
As far as I remember I got my first sip of hard liquor from that Wild Turkey bottle sometime around that same age.
Would frequently participate in contests to see who could bust out the smoothest 360’s in the cart barn. No serious damage but a few minor incidents.
Learned how to drive stick at 14 on one of the guys Jeep Wranglers going up and down the cart paths after hours.
That place was heaven for me as a kid. I remember being heartbroken when I heard they were closing down. RIP Oaktree CC.
Used to caddie at Caves Valley in Balt. County, MD for 8 years through high school and college. As with most here, a general loop consisted of carrying two bags and a lot of left/right army golf with mid-high handicappers.
One particular loop, I found myself with the mother of all digestive emergencies brewing on Hole 3. Next real shot at having a clean evacuation is between 6 and 7. If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know how this story goes. I shuffle over to the other caddie in the group and let him know things are heading south for me. The four ball we’re taking care of consists of one member (local pro sports team exec) and three guests. I’ve got two of the guests - great guys, not great golfers. But they are eating up the caddie experience, and especially love attention on the greens. Hole 6 and I’m almost at my breaking point. I’ve got a creative waddle going on as to not disturb my sewer lines too much. Guest 1 skulls a 180yd 9-iron through the green, two-chips up to the dancefloor, and is lining up a 30 ft. putt for bogey. I’m pinched shut, holding the pin, ready to sprint to the throne off 7 tee box. Dude three putts to six feet, CALLS ME IN to read the fourth putt - I crouch down and it’s all over. My firewall has cracked. I look right at him, tell him to hit it hard, and sprint off into the woods to the right of 6 green. By the time things were resolved in the woods, the group is on 7 fairway. The other caddie has four bags hanging off his body and a grin bigger than his face.
Guests 1 and 2 didn’t ask for another read all day.
I worked in the cart barn at a private club in central Florida for 10 years during high school/college. I could seriously write a book on my experience but i’ll start with just one story…
I believe the year was 2008 or 2009 and John Daly was in a rut with his game and his sponsors were dropping left and right. He had joined the club as an “honorary member” and started playing in the Wednesday/Friday money games. The members were thrilled to have him around because he was rather polite and he dominated our courses which were 6500 and 6200 from the tips. He barely acknowledged staff which didn’t bother me because I could tell he was going through alot and we were advised by our superiors not to bother him. Word got around that he was off the sauce and was quite timid at times.
Sure enough about a month and a half after he joined, he had a fit during a money game and heaved his entire bag into a lake on #12. The course was packed and we needed a way to get his bag out of the lake before too many members saw it and made a ruckus. I volunteered, and one of the assistant pros and I headed out to the scene. By the time we got there, the gallery was about 20 deep of members. I removed my jacket (it was about 50 degrees, freezing for central FL) shirt, socks, shoes and dove in. The bag was floating bottoms up, about 15 yards out. As I brought it to shore, members started asking the assistant pro to give them some of the 7 or so clubs that hadn’t sunk to the bottom.
The story has many more details but for the sake of your time I’ll cut the fat. My assistant and I both took a few wedges engraved with “JD” and put them in our trunks before returning to the barn. Daly hired a diver to go out and retrieve the clubs out of the lake the next morning. I get a call from my head pro inquiring about the clubs that were not found. I show up to his office and hand him one of the wedges and say I only took it because nobody thanked me for doing it (thanking meaning tipped). I still think JD is a great guy and don’t have a grudge against him. His kid is a spoiled prick that cusses more than your drunk uncle. And I still have a wedge. Hit it hard.
As a cart boy, one of our primary tip sources was detailing member’s personal golf carts after rounds. Trusting 17-23 year old’s with modified golf carts and an endless supply of tire dressing and soap is never a good idea. At the time, the tire dressing we used was also very flammable which made for some fun night time theatrics. The following events occurred on more than one occasion:
We would douse the tires of the marshal carts (no governor) in tire dressing and do endless donuts, often spinning out of control into parked carts in the barn, shattering hubcaps and quarter panels.
Had someone speed out of the barn with freshly polished tires only to spin out of control and t-bone the beverage cart. Guy was fired because minimum wage could never make back the $10k+ of damage he did.
New guy used the tire dressing to polish the floorboards of an older member’s cart. While this does give a nice look, it makes the rubber floorboard slick… especially in soft spikes… especially after 3 or 11 cocktails. A few stitches later and Mr. Haverkamp was as good as new. He never let us clean his cart again though.
I caddied at a CC in a Chicago suburbs during my teenage years. My first year on the job, the caddie master was an older golf pro that had gotten laid off the year before from another course. He was an old friend of the head pro at the CC, so the head pro brought him on for the season as the caddie master while he looked for another job. Because of the situation, he was always pretty grumpy and was not very friendly to us caddies, so as a bunch of teenage boys like to do, we always tried to mess with him.
The way it worked at this club is when we arrived we signed a the caddie list in the bag room, and then made our way down the hill to the back side of the clubhouse basement where the caddie shack was. In this room was a radio and the caddie master would call us by name from the list when when got a loop. When someone got called, they would walk back up to bag room to get their loop.
On one particular morning, one of the first kids to arrive wrote the name “Chris P. Bacon” on the list before his own name. About 20 minutes before the first groups went off that morning the caddie master started to call some kids up. After a few minutes we hear over the radio in the caddie room “Crispy Bacon”. Everybody looks confused in the room, but the one kid who wrote the name starts laughing. After a minute we hear again, “Crispy Bacon, on the double!” At this point we start to catch on to what was happening. Everybody starts laughing. In the next few minutes the caddie master continues to call “Crispy Bacon!” After he calls a couple more times he runs down to the caddie room. He opens the door and out of breath he exclaims, “Where the hell is Chris?!” A caddie in the room asks, “Chris who?” The caddie master responds, “Crispy Bacon?” The whole room of caddies erupts in laughter. The caddie master then realizing what was happening gets tomato red in the face, cusses us all out, and then calls the next name on the list.
When I got one with my loop that day and I was cleaning my member’s clubs, I asked a kid that worked in the bag room what it was like from upstairs during the episode from the morning. He said that everybody in bag room caught on after the first couple calls for Crispy Bacon, but they did their best to keep their composure. He then tells me that even the assistant pro thought it was funny and proceeded to say ,“Yummm Bacon” after each time the the caddie master called for Chris.
Sorry that was a little long-winded, but it was one of the most memorable moments from my caddying days… good times