Your Stories: A caddie returns to the bag as virus continues to lift

© Golffile | Phil Inglis

Throughout this difficult period, Golf News Hub will explore what it’s like to actually live through this moment. Here we will print your stories about how this is affecting you, your family, your friends … your daily life. Email us your story.

Here is the 10th installment in our series.

I started caddying again. Yes, as I predicted in my previous story on my first summer looping, caddies would be back in action soon. After a two-and-a-half year break, I held true to the mantra of “you never know when your last loop will be” and came out of retirement at my home club Spring Brook in Morristown, New Jersey. Granted, it took a pandemic and the convenience of quarantining at my parents’ house to bring me here, but without much to do on the weekends, it seemed like the most productive way to spend my time.

My first post-coronavirus round was different than it used to be. Instead of carrying two bags, I was handed only a rake (and the quick came the jokes on whether your rake had a stiff shaft or a lady’s flex). With COVID distancing-restrictions in place, it was a strange day. Normally, there are two caddies with each morning group, but now there is only one per foursome. Essentially, I was a forecaddie – I had no physical interaction with the golfers, so the main task was to find balls, give yardages, rake bunkers and read putts when asked.

The most unsettling part of being back was not seeing my caddiemaster stroll the bag-drop area. There he’d typically decide whether to give the sought-after 7:30 a.m. loop to a trusted veteran or give one of the younger kids a shot with good reviews. As I wrote previously, Chris McAndrew, Spring Brook’s longtime caddiemaster, passed away from non-COVID complications just as the season was getting underway. Normally, Chris would shuffle around and hand out assignments. But on this day, the head golf professional, Tony Santillo, manned the entire outside operation. It all felt strange and unfamiliar.

But once I got through the first few holes, it was like riding a bike. Longtime caddies never lose their instincts. For example, we constantly handle details such as where to stand, when to leave the green, when to post out on holes, how to deliver yardages and track four balls at once. It felt like returning to my natural habitat on the course.

So, even though distancing made things odd, and the loss of our leader still stung, the new normal worked out just fine. I think these restrictions will vastly improve safety not only for caddies but for all aspects of golf operations. But I do hope to carry bags again someday – after all, the true essence of looping lies under the straps.

- Dan Wooters
Morristown, N.J.

(Dan Wooters is an employee of Buffalo Groupe, which owns and operates Golf News Hub.)

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About the Author
Dan Wooters has been with Buffalo Groupe since May 2018. He began his career with the Metropolitan Golf Association in Elmsford, N.Y., and has mostly remained in the golf industry ever since, including stints with the PGA of America and PGA TOUR. Dan is a two-time graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee. He is a part-time hotel owner and enjoys traveling the world as much as he can. He currently resides in Arlington, Va.