Caddie’s day in office

Monday, September 16th, 2019 00:00 |


How is it like shadowing billionaires; you know the rich, wealthy, high and mighty, the whole afternoon?

What lessons can one learn from ‘keeping company’ the men and women whom success has smiled upon?

Being a caddie (the person who carries a golfer’s clubs and provides other assistance during a match) is not one of the most sought-after jobs, but for those who are lucky enough to make a living out of it, they have been like silent partners in the golf courses.

“I started this job in 2016 as a rookie after clearing college where I studied sales and marketing.

However, after tarmacking for years, a friend of mine who has been a caddie for years asked me if I could work at the Nyali Golf Club and that’s how I started my journey as a caddie,” Julius Musili intimates to Spice.

For him, getting up in the morning, putting on a bib and shuffling across the golf course with a bag full of golf artillery is not something for the faint-hearted.

He says: “Carrying the heavy bags, helping the golfers sight the ball, giving the distances, handling and cleaning of the clubs, reading greens, tending flags and balls are just but some of the duties we commit to do.”

Breaking all this sweat for a day is rewarded with a meagre Sh1,000, which is the standard fee, especially at the Coast, although at times, one might be lucky to get tips from generous players.

According to Musili, some tip in thousands, while others just dismiss the caddie with a shrug.

At tournaments, for instance, caddies are entitled to between five and 10 per cent of the prize money, but sadly at times they never get their fair share.

Sometimes, you might land on a valuable souvenir such as golfing gloves from a popular player whom you’ve worked with. Such can fetch a few thousands in the black market.

Taking chances

However, trouble also goes to those who cannot keep it professional while enjoying their swings.

“We also have male golfers who prey on the female caddies and vice versa. Then there are young caddies who also work here targeting foreigners with intentions of landing a ‘visa’, especially to the USA.

They believe if one gets married to a foreigner (who automatically are presumed to be rich), the chances are high they will relocate with them to the lands of milk and honey where good life is almost a guarantee.

“Then there are caddies who cheat on the game for their golfing ‘masters’ by moving the balls to the fairway. But this has consequential outcomes if you are found. They do this to get cash rewards after games,” says Musili.

Losing sight of the ball is a nightmare for any caddie. It is a sin that is usually met with contempt by the golfers, especially those with egos the size of grown-up male alligator, so to say.

Once you’ve fallen short of the glory, unfathomable insults will be thrown at you from the first tee to the 18th hole.

There are instances when a caddie is knowledgeable than the player and might give the correct or more accurate read, but the golfer ends up making a bad strike. More often than not, the blame will always go to the caddies.

But its not always gloom on the manicured greens for the caddies. Some soak in a lot of experience and end up becoming trainers for the new folks in the sport.

“Crisscrossing the green grass while the masters swing away, you get to eavesdrop on conversations of a myriad of topics.

One of the most impressive conversations I have personally heard over the years that I have worked as a caddie was of a certain wealthy businessman who was mentoring his son, probably in his mid-20s, on their line of business. 

“They’d come to the golf course and spend hours on end talking about how to outsmart their competitors.

The old man would tell his son there were moments when ‘one has to do what he has to do’ for the business to survive and keep the profits coming in. Here, strategies are drawn and dropped.

Advices on money and wealth building are given and we at times hear them all,” he says.

During the hot sunny days, getting an offer for a drink or even lunch from a golfer is a kind gesture for a caddie, but most of the times, it remains just that.

Close relations between caddies and the golfers are not popular and it’s not encouraged, especially for the latter. 

End game

However, as time goes by, a caddie might become acquainted to a golfer and then the jokes will start streaming in that nothing will no longer drive a wedge between them.

If you think it’s hard to meet new people, pick up the wrong ball on a golf course.

Also when wishing someone good luck on the course, you could come across phrases such as ‘have a good round, may the fours be with you’.

After playing, caddies will go to the kibandaski (a cheap food kiosk) for a quick cheap meal, which usually will cost anything below Sh200.

To the contrary, the boss golfers would — without batting an eyelid — spend thousands of shillings on a buffet lunch or dinner, which would be washed down with glasses of fine wine or bottles of exotic whiskey or cold beer.

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