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There’s nowhere lovelier than Pebble Beach on a sunny afternoon. In early


September one foursome after another set off on America’s most famous golf course for a round that would surely live on forever in their grill room myth-making. Seemingly every group was joined by a duo of caddies, each of whom was turned out in identical khaki pants and green bibs, a golf bag slung on both shoulders. The loopers would fi ll any number of roles in the next four to fi ve hours: tour guide, psychologist, swing coach, cheerleader, Sherpa, wet nurse. The coaching began on the very fi rst tee box:


“It’s an easy hole, so swing easy.” “You got a lot of tech-


nology in your hands—let the club do the work.” “I’ll keep score. You just


worry about having fun.” Pebble Beach has one of the biggest caddie corps of any golf operation in the country with 200 full-time (more or less) loopers who log some 60,000 rounds a year, with more than half coming at Pebble Beach Golf Links and the rest split between Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay. Who gets which bag is governed strictly by seniority. (Num- ber one on the list is Robert “Rocket” Lytle, who has been at Pebble for more than 30 years.) The caddies are inde- pendent contractors who can work as much or as little as they desire; Eddie Claes- sen holds the unoffi cial record with 430 loops in a year, while plenty of others show up only three or four times a week, or, if the surf is good, not at all. For a six-hour workday


(including time spent sit- ting the bench waiting to get out) enjoying the views in one of the world’s most


beautiful places the money is pretty darn good: $75 per bag plus gratuity. The folks in the pro shop recommend a tip of $25-40 per bag, but to a man the caddies con- sider this penurious. Pebble caddies are near the top of the caddie pay scale—do the math and Claessen earned around $100,000 in his record year (no health benefi ts)—but they are not necessarily the envy of their peers. “Two hundred and twenty dollars for six hours? They can have it,” says Will McCullough, a longtime looper at San Francisco Golf Club. “I’d rather make $150 for three and a half hours.” The dichotomy be-


tween public and private is felt in the caddie yard. At big resorts the players are just passing through, and every loop feels like a fi rst date. At private clubs the relationship between player and caddie is more endur- ing and intimate. “Pretty much every caddie had a nickname at San Francisco,


and we gave most of the members one,” says McCullough, who has given up caddying to enter the white-collar world as director of communica- tions at a New Hampshire prep school. Not all of the nicknames are complimen- tary, as a few caddies and members invariably rub each other the wrong way. “There are defi nitely members you don’t want to pack for, and I’m sure the members have guys they don’t want on the bag,” says McCullough. “At a small private club the caddie mas- ter has a pretty


big job matching up the various personalities.” Complaining about


their players is just one of the time-honored traditions among caddies. Waiting around for a loop is a big part of the job, and among the most popular pastimes are poker, practice putting, and arguing about music, women, surfi ng, golf his- tory and the weather (not necessarily in that order).


FALL 2011 / NCGA.ORG / 53


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