My Summer Job
A college grad lands gig as a caddy at St. Andrews
Posted: Wednesday June 21, 2006 4:57PM; Updated: Monday June 26, 2006 9:55AM
To me, the term looper refers to two things:
It is the word my dad used when speaking of someone who may have had a bit too much to drink. It was also was what my buddy Will and I decided we'd do after graduating from the University of Arizona in May. For those unfamiliar with the world of golf, a looper is a caddy.
When we decided to embark on our loopering adventure in the small town of St. Andrews, Scotland, we figured we'd fly over the country, be set up at a random golf course, and rest our feet on the table of our Scottish friend and fellow caddy, Dave Lindsay.
While we were secretly hoping that we'd be able to caddy at Kingsbarns Golf Links -- 18 beautiful holes that have been called "The Pebble Beach of Scotland" -- we never imagined that a week into our trip, we'd be lugging golf bags down one of the first places where humans ever cussed at golf balls: the Old Course at St. Andrews. We have Dave to thank for that, as he spoke to the caddymaster the Old Course who said he would love to have us out there to "try us out." Just 11 loops later we were full-time caddies, which in Scotland, means caddies for life.
In case you haven't Wikipedia-ed it in a while, St. Andrews started hosting golf in the 1400s before King James II banned the sport in 1457 because it was distracting young men from archery practice.
Can you believe that? Golf distracting men from work?
So while my best buddies are finishing up summer school, interning (for free) or preparing for law school, I'm at St. Andrews, the male version of a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive.
I've been lucky enough to have only two of my five golfers hit someone else on the course on the fly. One of them was my Scottish friend and fellow caddy, Tom, who was nailed in the leg. The other was an angry Scotsman who got slammed in the back.
Will might be the only person ever to loop 18 holes at St. Andrews and actually lose money. This occurred when the lady he caddied for accidentally paid him 50 Russian rubles instead of 50 pounds, which roughly translates to just under a single pound for his four hours on the job, or $1.85 American.
Even with the random troubles, life couldn't get much better for a couple of months of work. In St. Andrews, we have been put up with a Scottish lady who is nicer than Mother Teresa at a baby shower, but whose accent is so thick that understanding her is like shoving a 9-iron into a USB-port and hoping to download the new Rascal Flatts CD.
Caddying on Scottish links when you have barely ever played it might seem tough, and it is, but we have acclimated as best we can. I have misguided my golfer about 40 times since I started. Most of those occasions have left him in the middle of a bunker that would make the Grand Canyon look shallow.
Since being here for only a short amount of time, I have learned three things about the culture. First, when caddies aren't working, they are most likely drinking. Second, when crossing the street, nobody is going to stop for anybody -- even an 80-year-old grandma with her granddaughter in one hand and a terrier puppy in the other. Third, if there were ever a town in America that was half as simplified at St. Andrews, maybe we'd live just a little longer.
Throw in a live American sports channel on the tube, a single In-N-Out burger and a girlfriend, and this would be the life every golfer with no caddy skills and no responsibility would ever want.