John didn't swallow any gum because he didn't happen to be chewing any at the moment. But he took a pretty big gulp of air and to this day he can't remember if he said anything at all or just stood there looking stunned.
He never knew it (and still doesn't unless he reads this) but he won the job only after a careful pro shop screening of half a dozen topflight caddies. He won it on the basis of what he'd shown in four years on the fairways. It was Buster Core who made the final choice, after powwows with Rip Arnold, the head pro.
"ONE OF THOSE RARE KIDS"
"John got it," Buster says, "because he's one of those rare kids who's on the ball all the way. He's a real clean character, besides being just about as conscientious as the President himself. And full of ambition too. Believe me, we did a whole lot of thinking around this shop before we picked the guy for this job."
As for the President's opinion of John, it turned out to be short, sweet and quick. Right after the first outing of these two (during which John admits he had a stomach full of butterflies) the President said to Buster and Rip: "John is not only a good caddy, he's a fine boy." Later on, as the President and John began to feel more at home with each other, the "John" sometimes turned into a famililar "Johnny."
HE LIKES THE GUY
On the other side of the fence, John has by now taken a long, close-up look at the No. 1 man in the country and—without showing the least trace of awe at The Boss's current job, or getting soupy about it—he really likes the guy.
"Mister President," Johnny says, "plays a nice, fast game—something any caddy appreciates. When he's on his game, he's a really solid golfer. Take today, on that 10th hole—it's 386 yards, par 4. Well, Mister President banged one almost straight down the middle for better than 225, and he was on the green in two with an 8 iron. That's shooting."
John, of course, might be prejudiced in The Boss's favor by the fact that he's never yet been bawled out by him. But on the other hand, trying to be honest, he can't remember having made any real blunders either. The biggest charge he gets in caddying for his guy is when The Boss asks advice on the selection of an iron for a vital shot.
"What do you think, Johnny?" the President will sometimes inquire earnestly. "A No. 7? A No. 8 maybe?"