I was called into the principal’s office at my middle school to be told that I was too young to work, according to child labor laws. So, I had to quit my job as a caddy at a nearby country club. Instead, I rode my bike twice the distance to caddy at a different country club across the county line – at least until school let out for summer vacation. Then, I returned to the closer place, which was still a long bike ride.
As I left Avon Lake on a country road, over the railroad tracks, I pedaled as fast as I could down the slope on the other side. I had to gain enough speed to coast by an old farmhouse with my feet up by my handlebars. There he was, barking and running right into the road, nipping at my empty pedals. No sooner than he gave up the chase did my momentum slow enough to force my feet back to the pedals. It was always a close call.
At the caddy shack, the caddy master called me over to a foursome ready for a loop. There was snickering behind the first tee. Later, I heard that someone had intentionally matched a preacher with a foul-mouth. Not until the third hole did the foul-mouth know he was in the company of a man of the cloth. That’s when everyone except the foul-mouth burst into laughter. Soon, more cursing drowned out the laughter. Later, I heard people say they could even hear the laughter and cursing all the way back at the clubhouse.
My golfer was on the quiet side compared to the others. I didn’t know if he was new, subordinate or just quiet by nature. He was a stroke or two in last. I handed him a wedge for a chip shot out of the sand trap. He got a hold of that thing and it screamed out of there so fast and hard that I thought I might have to yell, “Fore!”
It ricocheted off an oak branch overhead abruptly sending it into the flag of the pin where it fell straight down into the cup. It happened in the blink of an eye. I had never seen anything like it so I broke character and roared in delight. It was a fantastic shot in my mind. When I caught the facial expression of my golfer, I was puzzled because he looked downright embarrassed.
I asked him, off to the side, “Wasn’t that incredible?”
He gave me half a smile on the sly, tasseled my hair and walked to the next tee. Later, he tipped me the most I ever got that summer.
After my morning round, I decided to hang out for some caddy baseball and try to get a second loop after lunch. One of the caddies in this group was just plain tough as nails. He was older than I and from the inner city. His golfer was one of those who had to insult people to act like a big shot, and he demeaned his caddies.
Nobody wanted to caddy for him but inner city caddy said, “I don’t give a shit, a loop’s a loop.”
It was a scorcher of an afternoon so we rolled up our short sleeves to try and fade out the infamous caddy-tan lines on our arms. Inner city caddy was sporting homemade tattoos.
His golfer insisted that he keep his sleeves down, “A little more class here, boy.”
I saw inner city caddy drop a mouthful of spit into the guy’s golf bag when nobody else was looking. He took a lot more abuse than I figured he could stand. I began to think he must really need to make a buck. He sucked it up, rebelled a little behind the scenes and marched on like a real trooper.
It was somewhere along the back nine that fate and justice crossed paths.
The big-shot golfer sliced a shot off the fairway into a tree. You could see the ball fall down but not out. It rested on a branch about 15-feet-high. The golfer out cursed the morning foul-mouth. During his tirade, he spun around and released his iron. The golf club flung round and round, landing in a pond.
“Get my club! Then, get my ball!” he said to the inner city kid.
To his credit, the kid casually walked to the pond, never uttering a word. Then, he turned and waited for the golfer to look.
“Come on, come on, we don’t have all day,” the golfer said for the kid to hear.
That wasn’t all that he said. When he turned toward his friends, under his breath, he added something about that kind being lazy. His friends didn’t look at him. They looked past him and nodded that he better look for himself, too.
The kid was standing with the entire golf bag, and all of its very expensive contents, over his head.
“What the …”
Before the big shot could finish his sentence, the kid spun around much like the golfer did before he launched his club. Only this time, it was the kid launching the entire bag …deep into the pond. Then, he turned, flashed two flagrant middle fingers and walked off into the sun, never to be seen again.
By Rocco Satullo, author of a memoir and novel