Real-Life Caddyshack Stories

This is the latest story from the blog,
“Wrong Turns Write Life”

I was called into the principal’s office at my middle school along with a close friend. He told us that we were too young to work, according to child labor laws. So, that spring, we had to quit our jobs as caddies at the nearby country club. Instead of caddying there, we rode our bikes twice the distance to another country club. It was across the county line, so we figured the law wouldn’t catch up to us. After school let out for the summer, we returned to the crime scene. Anyway, you sliced it; these were long bike rides.

It amazed me how cold it could be early morning and how hot it got later in the day. And when you rode a bike, it was colder still. An adrenaline rush got my blood flowing like clockwork every morning when I neared the country house on the other side of the railroad tracks before meeting up with my friend. I pedaled as fast as I could down the slope on the other side. I had to gain enough speed to coast by the farmhouse and put my feet up by my handlebars. There he was, barking and running into the road, nipping at my empty metal pedals. No sooner than he gave up the chase did my momentum slow enough to force my feet back to the pedals. It was always a close call. If that dog stuck with it for 15 more feet, I’d be breakfast.

At the caddy shack, the caddy master called me over to a foursome ready for a loop. There was snickering behind the first tee. Later, someone intentionally matched a preacher with a repeatedly loud foul mouth. His running with the potty mouth was as sure a bet each time out as the dog who gave chase to me every morning. Not until the third hole did the foul mouth know he was in the company of a man of the cloth. That’s when everyone except the foul mouth burst into laughter. Soon, more cursing drowned out the laughter. Later, I heard people say they could hear the laughter and cursing back at the clubhouse.

My golfer was on the quiet side compared to the others. I didn’t know if he was new, subordinate, or just quiet by nature. He was a stroke or two in last place. I handed him a wedge for a chip shot out of the sand trap. He got a hold of that thing, and it screamed out of there so fast and hard that I thought I might have to yell, “Fore!”

It ricocheted off an oak branch overhead, abruptly sending it into the pin’s flag, falling straight down into the cup. It happened in the blink of an eye. I had never seen anything like it, so I broke character and roared in delight. It was a fantastic shot in my mind. When I caught the facial expression of my golfer, I was puzzled because he looked downright embarrassed.

I asked him, off to the side, “Wasn’t that incredible?”

He gave me half a smile on the sly, tasseled my hair, and walked to the next tee. Later, he tipped me the most I ever got that summer.

After my morning round, I decided to hang out for some caddy baseball and try to get a second loop after lunch. One of the caddies in this group was just plain tough as nails. He was older than me and from a much tougher neighborhood. I wondered how he got to the country club every day. His golfer was one of those who had to insult people to act like a big shot, and he demeaned his caddies.

Nobody wanted to caddy for him, but this city kid said, “I don’t care; a loop’s a loop.”

It was a scorcher of an afternoon, so we rolled up our short sleeves to try and fade out the infamous caddy-tan lines on our arms. Some called them farmers’ tans. We called them caddy tans. When the city kid rolled up his sleeves, his homemade tattoos showed.

His golfer insisted that he keep his sleeves down, “A little more class here….”

When nobody else looked, I saw the tatted caddy drop a mouthful of spit into the guy’s golf bag. He took more verbal abuse than I figured even he could stand. I began to think he must really need to make a buck. He sucked it up, rebelled behind the scenes, and marched like a real trooper.

It was somewhere along the back nine that fate and justice crossed paths.

The big-shot golfer sliced a shot off the fairway into a tree. You could see the ball fall down but not out. It rested on a branch about 15 feet high. The golfer out cursed the morning foul mouth. During his tirade, he spun around and released his iron. The golf club flung round and round, landing in a pond.

“Get my club! Then, get my ball!” he said to the tough kid.

To his credit, the kid casually walked to the pond, never uttering a word.

But then, he turned and waited for the golfer to look.

“Come on, come on, we don’t have all day,” the golfer said for the kid to hear.

When he turned toward his friends, he uttered some more insults under his breath. His friends didn’t look at him. They looked past him and nodded that he better look for himself, too.

The kid was standing with the entire golf bag and its very expensive contents over his head.

“What the …”

Before the big shot could finish his sentence, the kid spun around as the golfer did before launching his club. Only this time was the kid launching the entire bag …deep into the pond. Then, he turned, flashed two flagrant middle fingers, and walked off into the sun, a renegade and Caddyshack legend, never to be seen again.

You never knew what you’d get from one day to the next at these country clubs.

When I first started caddying, we started our training as cart runners. Like in the movies, our caddy master sometimes threatened that golf carts at the club would replace us if we didn’t do well. I didn’t understand why some people would take a golf cart and ask for a caddy. But, on my only cart running day, it became clear that it was either to make sure a ball never got lost or for unhappy people to take out their frustrations on us kids. An older kid and I were assigned to one couple and a cart each. It was two husband and wife teams.

My couple had me stand down the fairway a bit from the tee to better keep my eye on the ball. There was a creek that split the fairway on this hole. When the guy hit his shot, I thought I saw it thud into the mud with no splash into the far bank, so that I couldn’t be sure, yet I was.

He was not a bad guy, but his wife was plain mean to me all afternoon.

“Didn’t you see it! Where did it land?” She barked at me, sure that I lost it because they could not find it.

“It landed right there,” I insisted.

But the ball had completely disappeared. To my surprise, the husband shuffled down to the water’s edge and had me guide him. I knew he was over the spot, so I said it should be there.

“If you are wrong, this will be your last day here!” the wife deadpanned, glaring through me.

In my mind, I was praying. Unlike the tough kid, I was pretty shy at this time.

The husband rose a muddy forearm with a smile and the ball.

“Check it. Make sure it’s a Titleist 4,” she said with anger in her voice.

She sped off with the cart without him to find her second shot when he confirmed.

“Damn good eye, kid,” he winked at me.

Once we seemed to be caddies that’ll last the summer, we were rewarded with caddy golf day. Caddies were allowed to golf on the members’ course Monday evening. It was a big deal for us. But none of us had ever really golfed before, except maybe Jimmy. Jimmy was swinging and missing. It was with a fresh divot and not the ball when he connected. The golf pro for the country club rolled up on a cart and watched the circus for about three minutes before jumping to his feet and walking over to us.

“Look, I can’t let you tear up the course,” he said. “Somebody better show me I can trust you out there.”

I never held a club other than a putt-putt putter, but my friends gave me up to sink or swim for us all. Now, I had plenty of hours watching people golf, and I had taken some practice swings earlier. I stepped up, put a ball on a tee, and positioned myself. Silence fell across everyone’s lips.

SMMMMACK

That ball went a decent distance and bounced some more straight down the fairway. It was pure beginner’s luck, but we all contained our giddiness and looked to the pro for approval.

“That was a nice shot,” he said with surprise.

He got on his cart and moved on.

On a slow afternoon, the caddy master came to me and my friend Scott.

He wanted us to drive a rigged-up cart out onto the driving range to shag balls. It was a treat, and he promised some favors in return. Well, Scott and I together doing something like this needed very little to get a serious case of the giggles.

Scott was behind the steering wheel, and I was in the passenger seat—the only part of the cart unprotected by a cage-type enclosure to keep balls from hitting the driver. Whenever he turned and exposed my bare side to the golfers teeing off, our narrative grew louder and louder.

We were dramatizing being under attack, but I was under attack, not him.

Some balls hit the cart, and we reacted without a filter. Then one rattled into the cart and bounced into Scott. That got us to peak form.

The golfers were clearly delighted in aiming at this raucous duo for entertainment. Meanwhile, we were out there exploring George Carlin’s list of words you could never say on television …with gusto… laughing at the top of our lungs.

But we didn’t think we were loud enough to be heard by the people at the range.

Then, our caddy master raced out to us on a golf cart.

He tried to yell through his gut-busting laughter,

“You clowns are done! Head back to the Caddyshack!”

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun 

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

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