So You Wanna Be a Caddie

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Well its a week off on the PGA TOUR and I can either keep trying to learn the lyrics to every Thomas the Train video that now constantly plays at my house or...write a little bit.
 
I think Ill write a little bit.
 
Since Ive started writing this column I have gotten over 300 requests from people that all say the same thing...
 
Im a fast learner and have always dreamed of becoming a caddie. So if a bag becomes available call me at 555-5555! Seriously, Im a people person. I play golf. Im a caddie at country club and caddied for the club champion. Ok, he won because the 93 year old man he was supposed to be matched against in the final couldnt get out of the home that day, but Im still really good! Im a 3 handicap so I know the game. My cousin works at a driving range... so, you know... Im ready.
 
Ill tell you how it happened for me, then how I think the best way to learn and give it an honest shot.
 
I told you in an earlier column that I was introduced to the pro game in 98 at Hilton Head. So the rest of that year I booked comedy gigs where the Tour was and during the day Id be hanging out at the course with my buddies.
 
On Tuesdays during practice rounds, I was known as the Caddies Caddie, because Rusty Uresti (brother and caddie for Tour veteran Omar Uresti) would let me carry the golf bag while he did the numbers in the yardage book. I thought it was cool because I got to walk the fairways and greens with the pros and caddies. Rusty, aka 'Hoss,' thought it was cool because he didnt have to carry a 30 lb. golf bag during the practice round. I was dumb and lucky at the same time!
 
The more times I did it, the more questions I asked. Why do you rake the bunkers that way? Why do you walk yardages off at that angle? What notes are you putting in the yardage book? The more I asked the more curious I became. It seemed things were so much different during a practice round compared with the real rounds.
 
Then in 99 Robert Gamez called me one day and said: Mikey, what are you doing next week?
 
Nothing. I lied, but I could cancel a crappy gig if need be.
 
My caddie quit,' he told me. 'I have to play a Nike Tour event in Louisiana and I just want to have some fun on the course again. You want to caddie for me?
 
I cant feel my legs.
 
Fun on the golf course? Im your man,' I told him. 'Let me know what my flight is and where Im staying, and Ill see you next week.
 
At the time I didnt understand why he laughed when I said that, (caddies are supposed to find there own way on Tour) but I know now. He did take care of me that week though.
 
So we get to Louisiana and cant get a practice round in at all because the course is underwater and the first guys allowed on the course will be first tee time Thursday. Now were standing on the first tee, a par 5 and as he gets the driver out of the bag I say to him, Hey, dont hit it in that bunker on the left because I dont know how to rake ok?
 
Ill never forget the look of confusion-hatred-amusement on his face as he turned back to the teeing area. You already know where the ball went. And as he came back to the golf bag I say, I JUST told you NOT to hit it in the sand trap!
 
You dont say that right before I hit! came his response.
 
Now you tell me what not to say. We both laugh.
 
The other two guys playing in our group look like Carolyn Bivens just told them theyd have to learn Korean before they finish the round. Of course when we get to the bunker Gamez tells me hes going to hit it in the greenside bunker to get up and down for birdie. I tell him if he hits it in THAT bunker Im leaving. The man called his shot. I laughed, put the bag down cursed at him and pretended to walk away. He cursed back at me and started walking, both of us laughing at not only each other but the fact that the other guys had no idea what they were in for.
 
By the end of Friday (we missed the cut) I had a few requests for caddie jobs on my off weeks from comedy.
 
I knew on that first tee caddying had me. I still will tell you golf has my heart, comedy has my soul. Thats how it started.
 
I spent a few years caddying on the Nationwide Tour and when the word got out I was serious, a couple of caddies pulled me aside and asked how serious I was or if it was just a fun thing for me. I didnt have to answer, they could see by the look in my eyes.
 
They took me under their wings and really taught me the nuances of caddying at the Tour level. And to Andy Padilla, Ernie Supermodel Lopez, Scotty Loosey Steele and Hoss I am forever grateful ' you guys created a monster.
 
Now this is definitely not the route I would advise because unless you already know what you are doing, there are 50-75 out of work caddies with experience looking for jobs every week.
 
Start on a small tour, Hooters or Canadian are great. Guys are great golfers, broke and hungry, just like youre going to be.
 
Learn the caddie game there ' when to talk and when to be quiet. Do it for free for at least a week or two (if youre helping your man make cuts and money hell throw you a bone).
 
Next step, Nationwide Tour. Get to the event on the Sunday night before. Then on Monday morning at daybreak get your butt to the caddiemaster and let him/her know you are looking for a bag ' and not in the pro-ams. Then get into the parking lot.
 
Its not a job to start with a family at home, a mortgage, or even a car payment. But if you dont have any of those...see you soon.
 
Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL. He also has his own Web site, www.funnycaddy.com
 
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