Taking up the game of golf at the age of 10 after a friend suggested I should try it out, I didn’t quite realise how it would go on to become one of my greatest passions. After only a few trips to the driving range, I was already hooked and was eager to try my skills on the course. I obtained my first golf club membership a few months later and began playing at every opportunity I could.
By the age of 14 I had become a decent player, however I realised that in order to truly test myself I had to compete. This opportunity came when I joined Castlerock Golf Club, situated on the North Coast of Ireland. Joining Castlerock allowed me to compete against skilled junior players, while also honing my skills on a world class golf course, all for an incredibly reasonable price. Within 2 years following my induction to “the Rock” I had successfully competed in U18 provincial competitions and my knowledge of how to play the game had developed immensely.
This was most certainly due to the demands of links golf, the different shots required, and how the course can play entirely different one day than it does the next. For players coming to Ireland, the changeability of the course and the weather are the two things that provide their greatest test. With over 50% of visitors coming from USA, as conditions in the States are typically more, predictable, they can become baffled when the winds pick up and the course becomes fast and firm.
By 17, I had played Castlerock enough to know the place like the back of my hand. At this time, my family had also purchased a caravan right next to the course. This meant that luckily for me, I was now going to be spending most of my summer around the golf club. I realised that this was not only a great opportunity to practice more than I had ever before, but I decided that I could also earn some money at the club through caddying.
At the beginning, I seriously underestimated the difficulty of caddying. I initially assumed that it was simply carrying a golf bag for 4 hours and collecting your tips. However what I soon realised was that in order to provide visiting golfers with an optimal experience, you have to multitask throughout the entire round. This is exacerbated when the elements are unfavourable, as while you provide accurate instructions, replace divots and maintain conversation with your player, you must also ensure that the players clubs remain dry and clean. The multitude of tasks was overwhelming initially; however with the guidance of the senior caddies at the club, I soon began to find my feet.
Now 20, I have enjoyed 4 successful seasons of caddying at Castlerock Golf Club. Despite the challenges the job present, for a guy like myself who has a passion for game, I couldn’t ask for a better job during the golfing season. Caddying has enabled me to meet golfers from Indonesia, Norway, Australia, China, Japan, USA and many more countries, giving me insight into cultures from around the world , without having to leave NI. While providing a great wage and allowing me to work flexibility, one of the best parts of caddying is the camaraderie between caddies. Even in the worst of conditions or on 6 hours rounds, morale in the group always remains high, with someone always cracking a joke or giving you a bit of encouragement to keep you going until the 18th.
Whilst the caddying season grinds to a halt over the winter months, I am already eagerly waiting making new memories next year as I join my fellow caddies to help more visitors from around the world take on the test of Castlerock.
Written by Graham Curry
Graham is an experienced caddie at Castlerock Golf Club and the Founder of Handicaddie.com