Many of the golfers keep a set of clubs at the course. They’re stored in the bag room, which is on the ground floor of the caddiemaster’s tower and is also where the assistant pros work.
The club has two assistant pros—Dusty and Mel. They give lessons to the members, organize club tournaments, repair golf clubs, and serve as hierophantic buffers between the caddiemaster and the caddies.
Dusty was a golfer in high school and finished in the top ten of the state tournament his senior year. He was a good player and wanted to stay with golf, but he wasn’t Division I good. He went to the University of Nebraska for their PGA Golf Management program.
Dusty’s 30-years-old now. His hairline has diminished and his belly’s distended. His full name—Dusty Fields—is a good description of his inner psychic landscape. He’s actively exploring non-golf-related professional options.
Mel also played good golf in high school but never thought of it as a way to make a living. He studied comp lit in college and then went on for an MFA in Creative Writing. His wife’s nursing career took priority over his writing, so he gave up on publishing and got into the golf business. His inner spiritual landscape is, in contrast to Dusty’s, watered, fertilized, and lush.
Mel is stout, plump, and cheerful. Many of the members fondly refer to him as “Little Pro,” or “LP.” He still likes to write, and publishes a story in the caddieshack’s Weekly Looper every so often. He dreams of writing golf stories a la P.G. Wodehouse, but instead of light romantic comedies, Mel wants to write stories that, as he says, “Catch the dark little truths that flutter from golf’s manicured thickets.”
Below is a story he wrote a couple years ago, after a windy spring day that knocked a lot of branches off the trees.
Dave Sr. and Dave Jr. were playing their usual Thursday afternoon golf. It was early May and the crabapples were in bloom. The ground was soggy and damp and the wind from the north was seizing the trees and scattering their flowers.
The father and son were walking off the ninth green, heading to the halfway house for a snack. Their caddies were ahead of them, hauling their clubs to the tenth tee.
Dave Sr. had once been a great golfer. He won the U.S. Amateur tournament soon after college and then 35 years later won the U.S. Senior Amateur tournament.
Dave Jr. loved golf because his dad loved golf. He played in high school but wasn’t good enough to play in college, much less compete in the Amateur tournaments. Dave Jr. got into the insurance business, just like his dad, and joined the same private golf club as his dad, too.
Sr. and Jr. tried to play with each other once a week, unless one or the other was away on vacation or business. Each man liked to believe that this was the thing he did to stay close to the other.
As the two Daves walked towards the halfway house, the greenskeeper drove by in his cart and pulled up to chat. The three men talked about the upcoming weekend and how difficult the greenskeeper was going to make the golf course. Dave Jr. held up the conversation, while his dad stood back, quietly, as if uneasy or uninterested.
The greenskeeper asked Dave Jr. how things were at home. Dave Jr. said everything was great.
The greenskeeper was known for saying weird, philosophical things. Before driving away, he mentioned how the golf course was a “little green utopia, free from the wrath of God and time.”
Dave Sr. and Dave Jr. walked to the porch of the halfway house and took a seat at the table. Dave Jr. went inside and brought out a Bud Light for himself and an Arnold Palmer for his dad. The caddies were in the kitchen in the back of the halfway house. They’d already taken Gatorades for themselves from the refrigerator.
Both the caddies and the two members were eating the halfway house’s snack—saltine crackers, peanut butter, and spread cheddar.
t was a golf club for rich men who liked to pretend they were poor.
Tom and Pat, the caddies, out of earshot from Dave Sr. and Dave Jr., were talking about the two men. Tom and Pat were brothers. Tom was a senior in high school and Pat was a freshman. They were from a family of eight children, three others of which also caddied at the club.
Tom said how Dave Sr. drove a golf cart into a sand trap recently, how they had to bring a tow truck onto the course to get it out. And how Dave Sr. keeps asking Tom the same questions over and over again, like he’s losing his mind, like he’s getting one of those old-person diseases that ravages one the way a gust shakes the leaves off a tree.
Then the boys started gossiping about Dave Jr. and how he told his pregnant wife he was going out of town, to Boston, on a business trip. In reality he just wanted to come to the club, play 36 holes-a-day, and stay in the guest cottages with his buddy who was visiting. Tom said how they were on their first round of the day when Lou, the club pro, drove out to the men in a golf cart and whispered something solemn and important to Dave Jr., who then got into the cart with Lou and, his head hanging low, was driven into the pro shop. Dave Jr.’s wife had figured out what was up and called the golf course asking for her husband, saying it was an emergency.
The caddies abruptly stopped talking as Dave Sr. walked into the halfway house to get to the bathroom on the other side of the tiny building. He asked if the boys had gotten something to drink and the boys graciously said they had. Dave Sr. pointed to Tom and said that he’s going to break a lot of hearts when he goes away to U of I the next year.
The boys chuckled as if they hadn’t heard that before.
Dave Sr. went into the bathroom and as the sounds of his peeing trickled through the cinder block wall, the boys continued talking about Dave Jr.’s misfortunes with his wife. As the toilet flushed and Dave Sr. walked back past the boys, they paused their conversation again and ate some more heavily cheese- and peanut butter-laden saltines, washing them down with sugary Gatorade.
Out on the front porch, Dave Sr. and Dave Jr. were enjoying a quiet snack, infinitely less critical of their failures and their weaknesses than the caddies on the other side of the halfway house.
The two men listened to the wind and gazed at the golf course, at the blue sky and the red flags, at the white clouds and green fairways, at the brown pond and the pink blossoms.
Dave Sr. had sensed there was some trouble between Dave Jr. and his wife. And Dave Jr. sensed that his father was starting to lose his grip on the handles of life. Neither man, however, wanted to believe that the other could, as it were, smell the odors of that embarrassing something of his life.
The players and the caddies—their drinks empty and their stomachs full—left the halfway house and walked to the par-3 tenth hole.
Dave Jr. went first and hit his shot into the sand trap beyond the green. As Dave Sr. stepped to the ball the wind began gusting. As he hit his shot, a loud crack came from the eleventh tee. A tall Y-shaped maple tree was being ripped in two by the wind. One arm of its Y had sundered from the trunk and crashed to the tee box.
The caddies shouted and pointed and looked at each other for validation. Dave Sr. didn’t know what was going on. Dave Jr. shouted “Holy shit!”
The group finished the tenth hole and walked to the eleventh to see the fallen limb, to look at this thing that could’ve fallen on them and crushed their lives. They touched the enormous branch, pushed on it, felt how immobile this thing was that’d just been moved by the wind from life to death, from tree to timber.
Everyone was too impressed with this mighty, fallen thing to start thinking about if it meant anything. All they could each think about was the story they’d have to tell at the caddieshack, in the locker room, around the dinner table.
Dave Sr., Dave Jr., and the caddies moved ahead to an open space on the tee box, the men hit their shots and the group continued with the round.
As they walked down the eleventh fairway, the greenskeeper drove by again in his cart, heading towards the limb.
He pointed at it, grinned, and shouted, “God and time!”