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HAPPY CAMPERS
Rick Lipsey
September 02, 1996
At the last caddie camp, boys continue to be made into men the old-fashioned way
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September 02, 1996

Happy Campers

At the last caddie camp, boys continue to be made into men the old-fashioned way

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The campers' day begins with reveille at 7 a.m. followed by bunk inspection, breakfast and a flag-raising ceremony. Then the campers trek up the hill from their compound, which is surrounded by Sankaty's 11th, 12th and 13th holes, to the caddie shack (a.k.a. the Bench). The caddies work six days a week, often looping two rounds a day carrying D's—two bags—at $10 per bag plus tips. The campers pay $5 a day for room and board, and on average go home at the end of the summer with $1,500.

When not working, the campers play sports, go to the beach or visit the villages of Siasconset—a mile from the club—or Nantucket for ice cream and a glimpse of girls. And every evening the boys are allowed to play Sankaty Head's 6,623 yards of magnificent seaside links, although the golf course is often the last place they want to spend the remains of the day after caddying 36 holes.

Having fun with the strange new world of Sankaty Head is not always easy, at least at first. Many campers have trouble adjusting to the strict rules as well as the Buffy and Muffy atmosphere at the club. Some of the most high-powered businessmen in America—captains of industry such as Jack Welch ( General Electric), Bob Wright ( NBC) and Nelson Doubleday (owner of the New York Mets)—play there. "If you compared us to the members," says 13-year-old Ron Northrup, a first-year camper, "it's like prime rib to bologna."

Of course, the young and fearless campers know a choice cut when they see one. Greg Montesano, who plays the ukulele, once rewarded a good shot with an impromptu concert. Lampooning members is an art form. Poor play is tolerated, but poor tippers who play poorly are not.

But don't let all the Bench-jockeying fool you. "I love the place," says 18-year-old Ben Smith of Spring Villa Athy, Ireland, a third-year camper. "My friends think I'm crazy, but this is life, the real world. We learn to take care of ourselves, to make beds, do laundry. And if you stay focused, you go home with a fat check."

And Sankaty Head loves to see happy campers. "The caddies enrich our lives as much as we hope the camp enriches theirs," says Bill Cox, the president of the foundation. "We take a lot of pride in the camp. Without the camp we wouldn't have caddies, and what's golf without caddies?"

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