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FEAR AND LOAFING: Roughing It on the Links (Golf caddie)

Our reporter digs himself into a hole with lack of golfing knowledge

 

 

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A different kind of teeing off was what Rick Welch came to Angel Park Golf Club for this morning. A leggy company of female golf assistants invited the ad agency owner and avid golfer to try out their latest hire for free.

"Can we talk for a second?" Welch asked CaddyMates owner Chantel Seeley after I turned a corner, dressed in my wife's golf-plaid pajama bottoms, and introduced myself.

Seeley and her partner, Kristy Nave, launched CaddyMates in October after an idea struck Seeley like a Titleist to the head. The real goal in golf, as Tiger Woods has shown us, is not sinking balls into holes; it's escaping your wife. And doing so with a cutie in tow only enhances this goal. CaddyMates now employs 29 bodacious Las Vegas females to assist golfers at most valley courses. The charge is $225 per round.

Of course, the idea struck Seeley after her husband golfed/escaped with a member of Par Mates, the bodacious female caddie company exclusive to Royal Links and Bali Hai. But I'm sure that was coincidental.

"Absolutely," Seeley said, grinning. (For the record, Rio Secco claims to have introduced the concept to Las Vegas in 2006, with its similar T-Mates.)

"So, tell me again," Welch addresses Seeley, "why can't Kristy come with us?"

Nave, 30, who puts in 10 hours per week as a caddie, told Welch that she had to tend to "an emergency." That emergency, it turns out, is spying on Welch and me from a distance. (Giggling will be audible even before the first hole, which I pull up to past the golf cart line.)

The caddie's job is to recommend clubs, tee up balls and estimate yardage.

"The pitching wedge is the one with the 'P,' " Welch enlightens me.

Caddies also must keep score, plant flags, rake sand traps, wash balls and clubs, bring snacks and drinks, and laugh at all jokes referencing the 1980 Bill Murray movie "Caddyshack." (At one point, Welch inquires: "Is that a gopher over there?")

Each CaddyMate earns $75 of the $225, plus tips.

"Before I got into it, I was like, 'Golfing? Are you kidding me?' " says Nave, a former licensed Realtor who relocated here from Kansas in 2004. "This is gonna be stupid. You're walking around hitting a stupid white ball all day."

But by last October, realty was biting hard. So Nave accepted Seeley's offer. Now she says her new career fits like a golf glove.

"When you get out there, it's peaceful, it's fun, it's relaxing and you meet a lot of great people," she says.

The only thing that gets her sometimes are the early hours.

"I have a kid, so I'm used to being up at 6 a.m.," she says, "but usually it's in my pajamas with my hair in a bun."

"What do you recommend here?" Welch asks me.

I'm expected to recite the number of a driver, iron or wedge that will help his ball journey up a steep hill and into the second hole.

What I want to recommend is a caddie who has played at least one game of golf without miniature windmills.

Actually, playing golf is not a requirement. Nave admits never having gone a full round herself. However, every CaddyMate has passed a six-hour training course given by a pro golfer. And what is a requirement is knowing enough not to walk your client's line -- ever. Once Welch lands on the green, not only do I walk between his ball and the hole, I'm actually proud of myself for it. (In my defense, I honestly thought I was doing Welch a solid by feeling any potential hills or depressions out with my feet.)

"Are you really doing this full time?" Welch asks me.

The answer becomes more apparent when Welch requests a yardage estimate to the third hole and 20 is my honest response.

"OK, let's see," Welch says.

He winds up and hurls like Ron "Louisiana Lightning" Guidry. (Sorry, that's how long ago I last followed sports.)

A sand trap claims the ball.

"That's more than 20 yards," Welch says knowingly. (Actually, I'm told later, it's 120.)

Mercifully, a higher power intervenes. Rain falls on my charade. On the wet ride back to the pro shop, Welch offers me a tip.

"You're a lot of fun," he says, "but you might want to consider another line of work."

Fear and Loafing runs on the first Sunday of every month in the Living section. Levitan's previous adventures can be found at www.fearandloafing.com.

 
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