My Caddy in St Andrews
My Caddy in St Andrews is a short golf blog post that takes a closer look at a local Caddy including an interview..
Back in October 2021 I had my first taste of The Old Course in St Andrews. As it was my first time I booked a Caddy too.
I wanted to know the yardages & some history or stories that he or she might have.
As my group gathered around the first tee, my Caddy arrived and introduced himself as “Freddie”
Freddie was, and still is a great Caddy, a gentleman and a hell of a golfer himself as I later found out.
I enjoyed my day immensely and much of that was down to Freddie, My Caddy in St Andrews. We exchanged contact details and are still in touch with each other and since that day we have played The Castle course together which was another excellent day.
I promised Freddie that I would help him out if I could, so here we go.
Freddie now works, as a Caddy, at Dumbarnie Links. He is a committee member of The New Golf Club in St Andrews and has a +1.2 handicap and plays on a regular basis.
This was my interview with Freddie Lawrence, My Caddy in St Andrews…
When did you start playing golf?
Aged 6; started taking more seriously aged 13.
Had you worked as a Caddie before St Andrews?
Caddying was a line of work I had never considered before moving to St Andrews for university. The idea only came into my consciousness after I began reading a book about it. ‘An American Caddie in St Andrews’ by Oliver Horovitz.
How did or do you become a Caddie at St Andrews?
I joined the caddieshack at St Andrews in 2014. Back then the application process involved filling out a form detailing your history in customer service and other golf roles. You then had to send this to the Caddie Master along with your CV. Successful applicants were then invited to a training weekend early in the season. The Saturday involved a presentation detailing expectations and requirements of all caddies. The Sunday was a magical day where we were guided around the Old Course by one of the senior caddies. He explicitly told the places and positions where we should be directing our players towards. After this, and the little matter of completing 50 rounds as a ‘Trainee’ caddie, you were fully qualified as a caddie at the St Andrews Links.
How much money can you earn on average as a Caddie?
Without delving into my specific earnings, when I started in 2014 as a trainee caddie, the standard fee was £25 (plus tips). The full big-boy caddie rate at the time was £45. This has risen over the years to what is now, in 2022, a base rate of £55 on the St Andrews Links. The fee is £60 at Dumbarnie Links. I’ll leave the reader to guess the level of tips we receive. Just remember that tips earned generally depend entirely on the quality of caddie!
Do you have other jobs too?
I graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of St Andrews in 2017. Having saved up enough of my caddying earnings to give myself the opportunity to play as a full-time amateur golfer. I wanted to see how good I could become. Whilst I would never claim full-time amateur golf to be ‘work’ in the traditional sense, it has certainly felt like it at time. Sadly, it comes without the consistent monthly wages in return for my efforts! However, with my savings very much dwindling, I have turned my hand to podcasting to help supplement my income alongside the caddying.
How often do you play golf yourself?
I play golf every day! I’m always practicing and challenging myself to become the best golfer I can be. I would like to think this has a positive impact upon the caddying service I provide to my customers (especially when it comes to reading greens!).
Favourite course to play?
Other than the Old Course at St Andrews, right? I would have to say that my favourite stretch of holes in the world can be found on the back nine at North Berwick. For me, they’re golf holes with the perfect blend of quirky, playable and challenging elements. Also, they are found in a beautifully scenic setting and I would never get bored playing there.
Favourite course to Caddie at?
The Old Course at St Andrews. It’s the course I know best. In my opinion, it’s a course where (more than any other) a caddie can make the greatest impact upon a player’s first-time experience and performance. There are blind tee shots and subtle greens. Every hole is laden with historical significance, as well as littered with treacherous bunkers, such as ‘Hell’ or ‘The Coffins’. Only a good caddie can keep their player away from such a terrible fate. Simultaneously enlightening them with the stories from history that make up the very essence of the Links. I enjoyed that challenge. It wasn’t just a serene walk and chat on the Links like many outsiders believe caddying to be. Working on the Old Course meant you were presented daily with a journey that needed to be carefully negotiated. That was my responsibility to make sure my players made it to the end, happy and in one piece!
Best/funniest story as a Caddie?
I’ve found over the years that the best caddie stories are actually your worst rounds with the worst people. The worst man I ever caddied for was from the East coast of America. I still don’t know his name to this day because he never told me it! He had been told on the first tee by the Old Course starter that his bag was too large for a caddie to carry. He had to decant his belongings into a smaller bag. This successfully put him in a terrible mood, and then I got to meet him. He ignored my offer of a handshake. In fact he didn’t acknowledge my existence until we got to his ball in the 1st fairway. I paced out the yardage and declared he had 128 yards to the pin. He got his distance measuring laser to check. He was wearing bug-eyed sunglasses with hot red lenses, but I could feel his piercing glare as he spat back at me: “I’ve got 128.8 yards”.
The Story continues…
The funny thing about all of this behaviour was that his friends were the nicest people and incredibly relaxed! Everyone was dressed in matching outfits of red tops and white trousers, and this served to make my player look even more ridiculous. He had two matching towels, both black, but one was for his hands and one was for his clubs. I was told not to get this mixed up. He had a headcover for his putter, which would only stay fixed with a rubber band. I was not to lose the rubber band. He also had a large, heavy duty camera to take pictures and document the trip. He was the sole photographer and I was not to touch the camera at any point. The group behind were also part of his travel group and he would look back to take pictures at every opportunity. I was not to get in the way. On the 3rd hole we came across some GUR where the ground was looking a bit bare. He said “They (the St Andrews Links) don’t want me to walk on there, do they?”. I shook my head as he deliberately went over to the ground and jumped up and down on it, like a child taking delight in a puddle. On the 4th hole, he faced a pitch shot up and over a bunker which also had some GUR gates on the other side of it. To this day, I have never witnessed a greater act of karma as the man proceeded to clip a pitch shot which clinked straight into the metal gate and back into the bunker. Incredible scenes.
The worst is yet to come…
This tale of misadventure continued on until we got to the 18th hole of the Old Course. By now, my spirit had been well and truly drained and I was about as demoralised as I had ever been. The other caddies in my group had said I should walk in and leave the player on his own, such was the extremity of his disrespect. I only continued because I wanted the satisfaction of watching him hand over his money for me to put in my pocket. I wanted that moment. The group had their customary Swilcan Bridge photos (taken with the monstrosity of a camera, of course). Eventually, my player ends up with a 20 foot birdie putt. Having reached the green, I began to line up his putt for one final time, when I looked around to find that he was gone! In fact, he had disappeared with his camera back towards the Swilcan Bridge. He wanted to take the pictures for his group of friends behind. So the other 3 nice men in his group putted out and left, whilst I was left to wait sitting on the fence at the side of the 18th green for my man to return. After 15 minutes, and after everyone in the group behind had hit their approach shots to the 18th green, my man returned and I went to give him his putter. But he ignored me, picked his ball up without bothering to putt and proceeded to walk away! With a sigh.
Give him his money…
I followed him, still wanting that moment of satisfaction where I got to call his money my own. But upon reaching him, he made me stand and wait next to him. He began transferring all of his belongings from the smaller bag to his original oversized bag. This took an age and proved to be one final test of my patience. After an age, he produced his wallet and grabbed some notes. He held them in the air for me without making eye contact. I’ve never wanted to turn down money more, but I knew it would hurt him more to take it. Teary-eyed, I headed back to the shack to receive the condolences of my fellow caddies. They were in the group who had made it back to the shack some 30 minutes before me. Everybody couldn’t believe the way I had been treated. To such an extent that the Caddie Manager went back to the 1st tee to confront the man about his actions. I don’t know what he said or did, but he told us that he had “sorted it”. Camaraderie in the caddieshack is a tangible thing. That was the day where I began to truly feel a part of it, as it felt like everyone had my back and were on my side.
Best experience as a Caddie?
Without doubt, my best caddie experiences have come from working in 4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championships. These were between 2014-17. In my final ‘Dunhill’, I worked for Peter Dawson, the former Chief Executive of the R&A. However, my best Dunhill moment occurred when I made the Amateur cut for the first time with my man from the first 3 Dunhills. His name was Tony Bird, a retired businessman from Nottingham. Our Pro was Nick Dougherty that year. After low rounds at Kingsbarns and Carnoustie, Tony tore up the front nine of the Old Course (our back nine): He shot 3-under off a 4-handicap to help us make the cut comfortably. Our reward was a Sunday group. This included Shane Lowry, but the adrenaline rush of trying to make the cut on Saturday overshadowed any Sunday achievements.
Worst experience as a Caddie?
Firstly, for context, my caddie nickname was ‘Frankie Forecast’. Largely in part due to my poor choice of weather forecast apps. So my worst caddying experience has to be standing on the 4th tee of the Old Course one horrendously wet day in June. I was wearing only shorts and a polo shirt having read the forecast as ‘warm and overcast’. On this day, everyone else on the 7 St Andrews Links courses had sensibly taken shelter from the apocalyptic rainfall and walked in. Everyone except our Californian customers, who seemed to think the weather was a classic, everyday occurrence in Scotland. I can assure you it was not. We had to wait for the 1st green to be rolled by sodden greenkeepers with squeegees. This was to remove all of the surface water (which took 5 minutes). Then my player hit his approach and made the 30-footer for birdie! My heart sank as I knew that would give him the optimism he needed to continue.
The rain kept coming…
Later, on the 3rd hole, he found himself in Cartgate bunker. He was asking me how to play the shot given the different Links sand. He was truly oblivious to the conditions and the bunker filling with rising water around him as he asked me. Meanwhile I was walking through puddles in my trainers. I figured I couldn’t get any wetter than I already was. Stood on the 4th tee, I spoke with a fellow caddie in the group and asked “Would you rather continue this round, or quit as a caddie right now and go home forever?”. We both agreed on the latter…but still stuck it out and got paid…the fee with no tip!
What & where was your best round of golf?
My lowest round is a 7-under 62, but my ‘best’ rounds have been 6-under rounds on the St Andrews Links (once on both the Old Course and Eden Course).
Where do you want to be in 10 years time?
In 10 years time, I want to be a significant part of a major professional golf tour.This can be as a player or caddie. Either role will do, I’m not picky!
Explain your Podcast content & aim.
My podcast is the ‘Free Relief Golf Podcast’. It’s an informative show where I explore the hidden costs associated with playing elite amateur golf tournaments. The main aim is to highlight how much money serious amateurs spend on their golfing careers. This includes accommodation, food, and travel costs. As they are not able to earn any substantial money in return until (and if) they turn professional. I’m trying to create a bank of episodes whereby golfers can look up a specific tournament and find out exactly how much it will cost them to play in it.
To achieve this, I’m playing in as many tournaments as I am able to, and guess what? It costs serious money!
If anyone would like to follow my journey through elite amateur golf and provide support whilst doing so, please visit the Free Relief Golf Podcast
Please help Freddie by joining his podcast above.
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