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Where have caddies gone?

August 04, 2005|By: Bryce Alderton

If Tom Sargent had his way, he would have one in place.

And members at Mesa Verde Country Club in Costa Mesa, where he is

the head golf professional, would have the option of taking a caddie

along for their round.

Never one to turn down the chance to use a caddie, Sargent, the

head pro at Mesa Verde since 1995, has flown halfway across the

country to attend conferences on caddie programs and spoken with the

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golf bag-toting workers who provide insight into a course's mood

while offering priceless information such as precision yardages to

greens.

Traditional courses like Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades

and Bel Air Country Club in Los Angeles have established caddie

programs.

So why do caddies seem virtually nonexistent in Orange County, a

bona fide metropolis in its own right?

Economics.

Running a caddie program is expensive, Sargent said.

"A lot of clubs don't want them because it cuts into revenue if

someone takes a caddie and not a cart," Sargent, the 1997 PGA

National Golf Professional of the Year, said.

There is the issue of pay, loss of cart revenue and the potential

worry of not knowing if the person will show up to work.

To add another name onto the payroll sheet would force hiring a

caddie administrator, Sargent said, to ensure everyone follows the

rules. Another expense.

Sargent said Mesa Verde has experimented with caddies before -- in

the 1990s -- but members didn't support it and interest waned.

Caddies charge different amounts, but Sargent estimated the going

rate at $50 for an 18-hole round. If someone played eight times a

month, they could spend $400 using that figure.

Some golfers would undoubtedly cringe at forking over that amount,

but caddies can forge a steady income stream if they regularly

receive assignments.

Sargent said he met one caddie on his travels to the Midwest who

earned $6,000 one summer for 100 rounds "on the bag."

"It's like a server, some make $300 a night in tips, and the same

thing is true with caddies," Sargent said. "You can make a pretty

good chunk. Plus, you're outdoors and around nice people."

Members at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach have the

option of using caddies Friday through Sunday.

Mike Fisher is first assistant of the caddie program -- Al

Alvarado is the caddie master -- which existed prior to and during

Fisher's three-year tenure.

The program has about 15 revolving caddies -- all must be 18 or

older -- ready for the call, Fisher said.

The range of ages is anywhere from early 20s to 40s, Fisher said.

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