Poor par 22 caddie for the rich and infamous

Caddie training in an urban environment can be tough. Note the sheathed ‘weapon of mass procrastination’ required to undertake this type of work in sometimes hazardous conditions.

Poor caddie training in signature orange kit

There are times in life when a change in profession becomes a dire necessity.

I have reached that crossroads. Or at least I thought I had.

After years as a freelance writer, editor and whatnot, I’ve decided, nay, I’ve been forced to make a radical change in my professional life.

The intricacies of the Apple world, the dazzling impacts of fake news, the numbing effects of yet another screw-up by the clowns at national level – all that will be part of my past life.

Yes, I’m taking up the pure lifestyle of a professional golf caddie. And I’ll be based in KwaZulu-Natal, within pitching distance of a swimming pool often referred to as a fire-fighting system. You don’t find many of those around.

My experience as a caddie may look just a little thin. I once ended up caddying for friends after I’d lost six balls even before we got to the second hole. I was told on good authority that owners of neighbouring houses inundated the police with complaints.

That came to nothing as all police vehicles in the town were in the workshop for repair or were being used as furniture removal vans for officials in want of free transport.

Caddie 101

I was relegated to caddying after my less than convincing start to what would otherwise have been an exemplary golfing career. At least, that was my view until the ignominious launch of my caddying experience.

A few years later I joined a training group of cross-country stalwarts racing around the Wanderers Golf Course in Johannesburg every Monday when the course was closed for maintenance. My exposure to caddying during those exercise sessions was limited to parking outside the caddie changeroom. But hey, every bit of exposure to golfing or caddying counts, right?  

You’ll probably enquire about my health since we all know that golfing is not a pastime for those with serious health issues. 

Before deciding to change my profession,  I subjected myself to the harrowing experience of being checked out by a bevy of military doctors. You may ask why military men? The quick answer is because they’re available. And they’re friendly.

Initially, I asked to see a copy of their qualifications but were told that the documents were being verified in Havana. That gave me pause for thought but I took comfort from the fact that our government is spending billions supporting the Cuban regime. What could go wrong? Perhaps the troops sent to Cuba recently took the documents with them under lock and key.

With that considerable weight off my mind, I began to undress but was stopped by the medical team.

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ they asked. ‘You don’t have to remove any clothing, run on a treadmill or bare your chest for a reading with a stethoscope.

‘We’ll do a thorough visual inspection, ask you various questions, and provide you with a full report.’

The medical team looked at me closely, bearing in mind some members of the team were attending the inspection via Zoom. I think some members of the team were in Havana.

‘How’re you feeling in general?’ they asked in unison. I had the impression that they were rehearsing for an acapella act although I was so stressed that my senses may have been warped. In my defence, I enjoy listening to the magnificent harmonising of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I wonder if they play golf?

Having done a few minutes of media interview training, I avoided answering the question and delivered my response to a question that hadn’t been asked

‘I want to become a caddie,’ I said. ‘I’ve even done the online caddie course: https://golfcollege.edu/caddying-101/.

5-star golf caddie work

They were perplexed until they remembered that golfing is the favoured activity of those who’ve been incarcerated in five-star private hospitals for a few weeks, or who’ve been transferred to hospital from prison because their poor health is life-threatening.

‘In that case,’ they responded, ‘you definitely won’t need an MRI, a heart function test or…….’

‘Just a second,’ I interjected. ‘Are you sure that in my condition I’ll be able to caddie on the new 19-hole golf course that’s being built in Northern Zululand? I’m told the Department of Public Works has been commissioned to manage the project.

‘The Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture is interviewing candidate caddies. That’s why they’re too busy to pay attention to the needs of starving artists or even arrange funding for Lilliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, Johannesburg. Even the Lottery has run out of money for worthy projects in someone else’s name.’

Clasping their hands in front of their chests like the actor playing the part of the autistic Shaun in the Good Doctor series on Netflix, they responded in unison: ‘Your health is in a “dire” state, but you’re good to go. Our word is our bond.’

When they mentioned the word ‘dire’ they used two fingers of each hand to signify quotes. That gave me pause for reflection, especially because the hand signals were accompanied by wide smiles. Will their finding be overturned?

Anyway, that’s why I’m here at Nkandla now. I’ve knocked on the gate but the guards know nothing about a new golf course.

They did mention that someone with a name closely aligned to the putative but absentee owner of the luxurious estate had started an extensive lawn-growing business using various types of grass, including a very fine grass. The flags waving in the breeze were positioned to indicate whether the relatively circular swathes of experimental fine grass were being grown. I nodded wisely.

Continuing my hard sell, I told them I’d practised for months, carrying a golf bag around while providing free advice about health matters. I told them I’d converted my running shoes into golfing shoes by driving steel nails through the soles from the inside.

They weren’t interested.

Changing tack and focusing on the nearby swimming pool, I brought out my backup plan as I had my water wings and Speedo in my backpack. They rejected my input with contempt. No lifeguard was needed for the swimming pool because the pool was not built for recreation. It was part of the fire safety system. Ask any policeman.

Labour 101

Perhaps my attempt at infiltrating the BEE system has failed. I distinctly remember sending a proposal to the Department of Labour suggesting the launch of a new employment category called RAWEP – Retired Aged White Economic Empowerment.

It seems my suggestion didn’t take. Perhaps my career as a caddie is over before it began.

Nevertheless, I’ll continue watching golf courses with interest. You never know who might appear as part of a four-ball, a sort of a shake-up foursome partnered by two players from a well-known foreign arms company. Or even a well-known medical expert who is also known for his security expertise.

So here I am, back at the keyboard of my MacBook Air. You can’t say I didn’t try!

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


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