Memoirs of a Caddy
By, Roger Ohlemacher
Roger wrote this piece about his memories as a child growing up in the 1940’s and 50’s. It was published by Reminisce Magazine. He is currently living in Combined Locks and is a member here at Christ the King. Roger is an active member of the adult choir and a church volunteer. If you are a writer and have an inspirational piece you would like to contribute to our newsletter, please let the office know. (Parts of his article wash edited to fit the space).
Setting the stage.
Caddying at Plum Brook was a good first job. The time I worked there spanned the summers of 1948 through 1953. The Indians winning the World Series (1948), I Love Lucy and The Jackie Gleason Show where evening TV favorites. Edward R Murrow brought us the nightly news. African Queen and Humphrey Bogart entertained film goers and golf made the big screen with Follow the Sun (a Ben Hogan's recovery from serious car crash injuries). U.S. Open champions of the late 40s and early 50s were Hogan and Dr. Cary Middlecoff.
At that time, Tour Pros played 18-hole exhibitions at country clubs. A good one that Plum Brook hosted featured Sam Stranahan. Stranahan was a world Class B. body builder and a top amateur golfer. When he arrived at the event, he threw open the trunk of his Cadillac, we did a double take, his trunk was chucked full of barbells and other weightlifting paraphernalia. Playing the tour as an amateur, he won six tournaments and finished runner up in the US Open (Dueling Ben Hogan the winner).
Come on out, you can make some money.
To fill the ranks of Plum Brooks caddies, there Were no "Help Wanted” signs posted or notices in the Sandusky register. The need was communicated by personal contact. On the job, caddies told a friend and club members spread the word… For a post Great Depression age kid, it was add in shoulders. Better for making some cash than mowing lawns, raking leaves, or shoveling snow. And you didn't even need a work permit.
Persons managing the show and financials were the. " Caddy Management Team": Club President. Club pro, Club Master slash, mistress, Club shack, Monitor. During the summer after my third-grade year, Dottie Craft, a kid in my neighborhood, who caddied talked me into giving it a try. One Saturday, I accompanied him to the course and he introduced me to the club pro and the caddy mistress. The club was busy, so Mr. Gordon put me right to work with Doctor James Walker. Doctor Walker was happy to work with the newbie because I was a son of one of his high school classmates. The first time out was successful because I kept up walking the 18 holes and helping him not have any lost ball penalties. Oh, And I went home with $1.50 in my pocket.
A word about caddy rates:
18-holes equals $1.50. With $0.50 tip., Nine holes equals $0.75 with $1.00 tip. On an exceptionally good day, a caddy carrying 18 holes could double twice. And make $8. Add. More often a caddy would have 18-hole carry in the morning. And a nine-hole carry in the afternoon. He could go home with $3.00 in his pocket.
Hazing or Initiation
At this time, initiation kind of writes a passage, were common in some club. At Plum, new caddies had to undergo mild hazing or go through “Caddy Initiation Week”. The caddyshack monitor took charge of organizing the hazing team and planned the pranks. In my experience, I went out in a foursome with three older caddies, who played a variety of pranks on me. On one hole. The boys suspiciously loosened the straps on mine. The man’s bag and as I lifted the clubs went clanging to the ground. Embarrassed, they scrambled to retrieve them and hurried to catch up with the others on the fairway.
Another prank involved two of the caddies distracting me, while the third made a show of collecting all the putters at the green, but intentionally left my man's out. Arriving at the green on the next hole, a long par 5, no putter! I sprinted back 500 yards while my man carried his own bag and borrowed a partner's putter. Gasping for breath, I caught up with the group on the next tee. Not being introduced to being a cady until late in July that first summer. I only went through a couple of dozen rounds before heading back to school. I like the job well enough and look forward to doing it next year. Except, there was that hazing. Initiation week was interrupted by bad weather and a family vacation. What made that worrisome was the unconfirmed rumor that being “departed” And thrown into the murky waters of the course reservoir completed initiation. The summer of 1949 rolled around and surprisingly by unfinished initiation, flew under the radar.
Caddy fees and mother's best friend.
Around noon each day, the caddy's mistress arrived and took over for the caddy shack miner. She reviewed the list of caddies on the course and those not yet working. Scanning the tee time sheets, she gave a carry to those waiting for an assignment. She broke out our bag lunches. She then turned her attention to the boys, who finished rounds in the morning to collect caddy fees. These were monies collected from the caddies. If there were 30 caddies working on any one day and they paid $0.25 in caddy fees out of their $3 earnings, caddy managers collected $7.50.
As we can, these grumbled. Amongst ourselves about pain. Something we didn't know what. Company line color. It was for insurance. Huh? And then I could never understand why my mother didn’t see it as a big deal. It was later in life that I figured it out. It was for babysitting! How so? Well, in my case it was my fellow caddies Dad who played a big part. He got us to the course by 8:00 reporting time. And for the next 8 hours I was under the eye of the Caddy's management team. My mother along with 30 other mothers must have felt they died and went to heaven. All Mom had to do was make sure she got to the course by 4:00 quitting time. And how did the Caddy management team get paid? It might have been with the Caddy fees and the sales from the cage.
Perks made great job.
There was much to recommend Plum Brook as a place to work. The fresh air and pristine greenery were to be envied. The Caddy management team was fair and reasonable. Our daily players were amongst the finest role models. Monday and Friday mornings, Caddies would play the best golf course in the area for free. Occasionally we could swim in the club pool. Though Bill Gordon, the club pro, did not spend a lot of time with us, he periodically would check our swing to make sure we were paying attention to the fundamentals.
What help Mr. Gordon gave us caddies was a good start in developing competitive golf games. Games good enough in our senior year at high school to place runner up in the 1957 state tournament. Cincinnati St. Ignace won the event, but our second-place finish still had us smiling because we were ahead of third place Upper Arlington led by tournament medalist Jack Nicholas.
Beautiful Sundown’s, but darkening clouds.
Setting in the caddy yard overlooking the course one could take in the fading sunset color. It was so beautiful and relaxing that sometimes I wished my mom would pick me up late. I had such a warm feeling for this place. Caddying at Plum Brook Country Club was a great first jobLast week of my sixth summer, I felt sad because I knew the next year I'd be working in a store downtown. On one of those last days, I was being blessed with the most gorgeous sunsets, when the wind picked up and the clouds obscured the sun. As the storm approached, I heard sounds of a small engine coming down the hill from the front nine was a small homemade car carrying A.C. Routh and his club-a-harbinger of things to come?
I grew up and moved to Florida. Some years later, I returned to the area for a relative 's funeral. As I made my way to the church, I ended up on Galloway Road. Approaching Plum Brook I saw changes: a redesigned short game practice area, a reconfigured 18th green and no more caddyshack. But most dispiriting were the golf cart scrambling to join the queue headed for the 1st tee. At the end of the day, I felt like I attended 2 funerals: My relatives and caddying. The best first job ever.