A Caddies Tale

Ridge
Blue Insights
4 min readApr 27, 2024

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A True Tale Of A Former Wallingford Country Club Caddie ~

Mike, a caddy and assistant pro at the Wallingford C.C. 1928–1936
https://wallingfordcc.com

Dawn is breaking over a picturesque Connecticut countryside. It’s early fall 1930. Yellow, orange, and burnt red leaves are falling on dew-laden tees, fairways, and greens. The sun’s warming rays filter through the maples and birches that surround the elaborately embellished Victorian clubhouse with its wrap-around covered porches. This quintessential New England scene combined with the smell of saturated fallen leaf fungi is intoxicating to a golfer’s spirit.

The day’s work has been underway since pre-dawn for the greenskeepers and caddies at the Wallingford Country Club. At the instant of the day’s breaking the greensmen are busy whipping and mowing greens, and raking the sand traps, all by hand. The sound of grumbling tractors and whirring blades can be heard in the distance as even more greensmen mow the fairways and teeing grounds. The sounds and scents and majesty of execution as a golf course is groomed at dawn 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 consisted 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 had a desk just inside the building where he recorded each caddie’s attendance and performance, and matched caddies with members. He also operated the food and drink concession for the caddies.

The staff at the club had it rough following the stock market crash on October 24th of the previous year. The caddy master’s only income was tips from the members and profits from his concession business. The caddie’s income was also just member tips, but they spent 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 with their tips since the crash.

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 was leaning against an old maple near the caddy shack one afternoon watching a twosome tee off on the 9th hole which comes back to the clubhouse. A stranger was chipping practice balls onto the 9th green which was 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 a golf bag lay. After the two members finished putting, they and their caddies walked off the green toward the clubhouse locker rooms. But as they were about to pass the man under the tree Mike overheard one exclaim, “Oh, Mr. Hagen, had I known it was you….”. Mike, my dad, doesn’t catch the rest of what was said because he’s running to attend to Walter Hagen’s golf bag.

Walter Hagen

Walter Hagen’s PGA Tour wins (45)

1914 (1) U.S. Open
1916 (3) Metropolitan Open, Shawnee Open, Western Open
1918 (1) North and South Open
1919 (2) U.S. Open, Metropolitan Open
1920 (3) Florida West Coast Open, Metropolitan Open, Bellevue Country Club Open[20]
1921 (2) Western Open, PGA Championship
1922 (4) Deland Open Championship, Florida West Coast Open, White Sulphur Springs Open, British Open
1923 (5) Texas Open, Florida West Coast Open, Asheville-Biltmore Open Championship, North and South Open, Kansas Mid-Continent Pro Championship (tie with Joe Kirkwood, Sr.)
1924 (5) North and South Open, Metropolitan PGA, British Open, PGA Championship, Princess Anne C.C. Open
1925 (1) PGA Championship
1926 (4) Florida West Coast Open, Eastern Open Championship, Western Open, PGA Championship
1927 (2) Western Open, PGA Championship
1928 (2) British Open, Long Beach Open (December)
1929 (3) Miami International Four-Ball (with Leo Diegel),
British Open, Great Lakes Open
1931 (2) Coral Gables Open (tie with Henry Ciuci), Canadian Open
1932 (2) Western Open, St. Louis Open
1933 (1) Tournament of the Gardens Open
1935 (1) Gasparilla Open-Tampa
1936 (1) Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Ky Laffoon)
Major championships are shown in bold.

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