1997 curtain call

Sonny Skinner got his card for the 1997 PGA Tour at qualifying school in late 1996.

I called him within a day or two of finding this out to ask if he needed a caddie. He said he already had one. In February I took a chance and flew to Pebble Beach hoping to get a job. No luck. The same the next week in San Diego. My friend Harpo was going to caddie in Hawaii the next week and gave me his car with the promise that I would pick him up at the Tucson airport for the next tournament. During the week before Tucson I worked at a LPGA Tournament in Glendale, CA. for Penny Hammel.

No work again in Tuscon and after that week I drove with a friend from the Senior Tour across country. I got out in New Orleans and flew back to MA.

In June I got a call from Sonny asking me to come out and caddie for him. We met in Georgia for a small unofficial invitational event and the next week I headed to the regular PGA Tour in NY. I caddied for Sonny in the next 6 events and he made the cut in 5.

At this point, the uncertain money situation that all caddies experience, plus the rigors of travel were getting to me. While on the road caddieing I was also doing some online promotion work for Cyberian Outpost, an internet seller of computer hardware and software. When they offered me a full time marketing job in Kent, CT I decided that at age 51 a salary and benefits was a better deal than caddieing and the Canon Greater Hartford Open was my last caddieing event.

I have many fond memories of tournaments but I also remember the fantastic scenery I saw as I traveled the USA.

One Tournament in 1994

Took a drive to Virginia and the Nike Tour. I hooked up with Sonny Skinner in the parking lot.

Sonny was tied with Jim Carter after 54 holes and they went to a playoff.

Sometimes players will ask you what shot you think they should hit. From the 18th fairway in the first playoff hole, Sonny asked me this very question.  He had the choice of going over the water fronting the green or laying up to the left of the green. Without naming a specific club I said “hit the shot that will win you the tournament”. He took the more riskier shot over the water and got it on the green. Two putts from there and he had the win.

The Nike Tour 1993

I was working as a radio DJ in White River Junction VT but had some health problems that made me give that up. Once again, what now?

Oh yeah, caddieing.

The Senior Tour still sounded like the place to go but it didn’t work out. I had heard of a new tour called the Nike Tour, the equivalent of today’s Korn Ferry Tour, and they had a tournament coming up in Greenville, SC so that’s where I headed. Upon arrival, I found out they were using a sign-up sheet for caddies. A caddie was assigned a number ( I got 13 ) and that was matched to players requesting a caddie.  That’s how I hooked up with Sonny Skinner. I liked the fact he had won a tournament three weeks previously and he liked that I had 4 wins on the Senior Tour. I worked for Sonny the rest of the year.

Back at it – 1990 and 1991

I spent quite a bit of time in St. Andrews, Scotland in 1990 working on a couple of projects that might allow me to live there permanently. When the money ran out I returned to the USA. What do I do now?  I’ll caddie. The last week of August I took trains from Springfield MA to Indianapolis to hopefully find a bag at that week’s Senior Tour event, the GTE North Classic. Rabbit Dyer, Gary Player’s long time caddie set me up with Agim Bardha.

Agim,  a hairdresser from Michigan, was an excellent amateur player who, on a suggestion from a friend, qualified for the Senior Tour after he turned 50. I was glad to have a bag because I think I only had about $300 to my name.

I caddied for Agim for several weeks, but I got fired. Luckily I hooked up with George Lanning for the last few tournaments of the year. George, a left hander, was a club pro from Washington State who had no previous Tour experience but he had qualified for the Senior Tour in 1988. George was a delight to work with. We worked a few tournaments in early 1991. At some point he said he was going to take some time off to rest. Unfortunately George passed away in May from heart related problems.

I considered going to Europe to caddie but decided against it. As you’ll see from other posts I next caddied in 1993.


The Senior PGA Tour 1987

In 1987 I decided to pursue a golf travel project idea and my last caddieing event for Gene Littler was the Chrysler Cup team tournament won by the USA team over the International team.

The Senior PGA Tour 1986

The Senior Tour in 1986 started with two tournaments in Florida. I drove there from Massachusetts to caddie for Bruce. There was an unofficial tournament in Houston, TX in March. I was on the bag for Bruce’s first win on the over 50 circuit. As a side note, this tournament featured “celebrity amateurs” in the Pro-Am. To my utmost delight our celebrity partner was Spanky McFarland of Our Gang/Little Rascals fame.

I was on the bag for Bruce’s second win at the Benson & Hedges Invitational in San Antonio, TX. At the previous tournament in New Mexico I was told by Bruce that he would be using a caddie from his days on the PGA Tour at the upcoming tournament in Philadelphia., the week after San Antonio. In anticipation of this, I arranged to caddie for Gene Littler in Philadelphia. During a practice round in Philadelphia another player looked at me on Gene’s bag and said ” you won last week and lost your job?”.

The other caddie only worked for Bruce for one week and Bruce did call me and ask me to caddie for him again but I decided to stay with Gene. ( My good friend “Cowboy” hooked up with Bruce and won 6 tournaments that year ).

I was on the bag for Gene’s win at the Bank One Senior Golf Classic in Lexington, KY, in a play-off with Miller Barber and Bob Goalby.

When I started on the Senior Tour many of the original black caddies from the PGA Tour were still working. Smitty, Rabbit, Mule, and many others. But the changeover was becoming evident.


My intro to Professional caddieing

In the Summer of 1985 I got a call from Rich Hurley. I had worked for Rich in 1975 at Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield, NJ as part of the Summer placement portion of my Turf Management degree at The Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Rich was the agronomist at Loft Seed  company when I worked for them in 1984.

Rich called to ask if I’d be interested in caddieing for Bruce Crampton on the new Seniors Tour ( he would be turning 50 years old ). I wasn’t sure at the time but wisely said yes. In Oct. I took a train from Springfield, MA to Kissimmee, FL and continued on to Melbourne’s Suntree CC for the Barnett Suntree Classic.

I met Bruce at the tournament and got a quick introduction to professional caddieing. I did well enough that Bruce invited me to become his full time caddie. I returned to Boca Raton, FL in November to caddie in the Quadel Senior Classic. ( As a side note to this tournament, for two days in the Pro-Am portion of the event one of the amateurs in our group was Bucky Dent. My fellow Red Sox fans will know what an odd experience that was. )



My start in caddieing

I moved to Worcester MA in 1959. In the Summer of 1960, after getting a tip from my cousin, I started caddieing at Worcester Country Club. John Bernardi was the pro, Ray LaJoie was the assistant pro and the caddiemaster. I started as a class B caddie carrying single bags and worked my way up through class A and then, by 1961,  class AA carrying doubles. As a AA caddie carrying doubles I made on average $6 for 18 holes.

In 1962 some caddies from Worcester Country Club were recruited to caddie at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton in the LPGA’s Carling Open. I caddied for 17 year old Judy Torluemke ( later to become more well known as Judy Rankin ).