A true tale of a former Wallingford Country Club caddie.
Mike, a caddy and assistant pro at the Wallingford C.C. 1928–1936
Dawn is breaking over a picturesque Connecticut country side. It’s early fall 1930, and yellow and orange and burnt red leaves are falling on dew laden fairways, teeing grounds, and greens. The sun’s warming rays filter through the maples and birches that surround the elaborately embellished victorian clubhouse with it’s wrap around covered porches. This quintessential New England scene combined with the pungent oder of saturated fallen leaf fungi is intoxicating to a golfer’s spirit.
The day’s work has been under way since pre-dawn for the greenskeepers and caddies at the Wallingford Country Club. At the instant of day’s breaking the greensmen are busy raking, whipping and mowing the greens by hand, and the sound of tractors can be heard grumbling in the distance as more greensmen mow the fairways and teeing grounds. The sounds and scents and the majesty of execution as a golf course is groomed at daybreak are quite bewitching and alluring to a young man lucky enough to experience it, and it is not soon forgotten.
At the caddy shack which is behind the member’s locker rooms, the junior caddies are busy replacing worn spikes and shining member’s shoes while the more senior caddies use a mix of oil and shellac to clean and condition hickory golf shafts and club heads. The most senior caddies are huddled together in a sunny spot having a smoke as they await their assignments for the morning round from the caddy master.
The caddy shack consists of a gable roofed 15' x 20' area attached to the clubhouse with worn out benches under the eves along both sides. The caddy master has a desk just inside the building where he matches caddies with members, records caddy attendance and performance while also operating a food and drink concession for the caddies.
The staff at the club has it rough following the stock market crash on October 24th of last year. The caddy master’s only income are tips from the members and profits from his concession business. The caddies income is also just member’s tips, but they spend most of that on pop and wieners at the concession. The membership took a big hit too. Those members that did remain are not as generous as before with their tips.
This is a story about one caddie in particular, Mike, which is not his given name but rather a name bestowed on him by the other caddies because it was more befitting of his Irish descent.
Mike is leaning against an old maple near the caddy shack one afternoon watching as a twosome teed off on the 9th hole. There is also a stranger chipping a few practice balls onto the 9th green which is some 40 yards from Mike. A few minutes later Mike hears one of the golfers in the twosome yell to the man practicing “Hey there, how about letting a member through!” The man looked up and immediately waved, collected his balls and stepped off the green to stand under a tree where his golf bag lay. After the two had putted-out they and their caddies walked off the green toward the clubhouse locker rooms. As they are about to pass the man under the tree Mike overhears one exclaim, “Oh, Mr. Hagen, had I known it was you….” Mike, my dad, doesn’t catch the rest of what they are saying because he is running to attend to Walter Hagen’s golf bag.
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