We’re into Day 4 of this new “daily journal” approach, and in reading through the first three entries, I realize they haven’t really been that daily journal-esque; they’ve been more of the same style of articles I’ve been writing, and I’ve actually had to go back and write down some of the occurrences from the last few days in the notebook I’ve been keeping, just so I wouldn’t forget.
From what I can tell, there are two issues at play here. First, if I’m sending something out and hoping people will read it, I want it to be interesting. As the great Aaron Sorkin has said (and as I have referenced before), the responsibility of a writer or director or whoever is to keep the audience’s attention for as long as he’s asked for it. This leads directly into issue No. 2:
I haven’t been doing anything all that interesting.
As I mentioned the other day, it’s been slow going around the caddy shack, at least for those of us who are fresh out of our green Trainee bib. I haven’t had the chance to meet any new people or receive a completely underwhelming tip. Yesterday, minus water bottle fill-ups and restroom visits, I sat uninterrupted in the same chair from 6:15 a.m. – 2 p.m., staring at my computer, trying to be productive in the face of a couple of horrific Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston movies. After merciful back-to-back episodes of “How I Met Your Mother,” I finally gave up on getting a bag and went to the practice center for a couple of hours. Then I came home, made dinner (chili!), and had a Slingbox-Skype date with my girlfriend, Emily, to watch “Dexter” on DVR.
Riveting, I know.
Today’s itinerary is even more exhilarating—I’m going to Walmart. Yep, they have a Walmart in Coos Bay, OR (the town just north of Bandon where I’m staying). I need some more Hanes white t-shirts, and I have to restock on Gatorade, baked chips, and saltine crackers (for tonight’s dinner—the leftover chili).
Oh, and I’m also doing laundry. I live in what’s essentially a private basement apartment, and the washer and dryer are upstairs. Whenever I need to use them, I just call the landlord, and she comes and opens the door that leads to the steps that lead to the utility room.
Actually, while we’re here, why don’t I tell you the tale of where I live and how I found it? It’s gotta be better than that little saltine routine I was just riffing on.
About a month before I made my final decision to come caddy, I flew out here one weekend to get a feel for the area and to look at some prospective places to live. I’m pretty low maintenance—a minimalist, if you will—and I don’t need much when it comes to living facilities. This has become a running joke between my parents and me; upon seeing one room I’d rented a few years ago, my mother immediately compared it to a prison cell.
And for an arrangement like this, where I was only going to be here for a few months, and where I was going to be the 21st century’s Henry David Thoreau, I needed even less than usual. Assuming it was in my price range, all that I required was that the place be furnished, in a reasonable location, and had cable and Wi-Fi.
The first appointment of my trip violated the location stipulation, as it took me out to some farm in the middle of nowhere—and considering this is already the middle of nowhere, that’s saying something. There were times on my way there when I felt like I was driving through a world made completely of shrubbery. It’s never a good sign when the directions include the instruction, “When the paved road ends, keep going.”
Ultimately, I was able to come up with two viable options. The one I really wanted was a free-standing guest house on the edge of town, complete with a beautiful garden that overlooked a lake. It was new(ish), clean, and serene. If this were a movie, the person in my position would have undoubtedly lived in a place like this. Unfortunately, the timing with it just didn’t work out, and it got rented to another tenant before I had made my final decision.
This left me with option No. 2, which can best be described as adequate. As mentioned before, it’s a private basement apartment, and it does meet all of my basic requirements—though the internet can be hit and miss, and the cable is set up “hotel style” with no guide, so not only do I not know what’s on, I don’t even know what channel is what (and there’s no guest book to tell me). Remember what it was like when you first got cable, and you had to memorize the channel lineup? It was even kind of fun to try to re-learn the lineup whenever it got switched around. Well, once they invented the guide, that ruined me forever. As with anything, you don’t realize how spoiled you are with something until that something is no longer there, and that’s how I’ve been with the lack of a guide. I barely even watch TV here. I just don’t have the patience for it. Every few days, I’ll gear up mentally and start flipping to try to figure everything out, but inevitably, every station is on commercial, rendering my effort useless, and after a minute or two, I give up and go find something to read on the internet. I do know, though, that ESPN is channel 27, and ESPN2 is 28.
Thankfully, the apartment does have plenty of space, making it at least 12.9 times larger than the most recent Craigslist room I’d been renting in Washington, D.C. The kitchen and appliances are updated, and the bed was recently upgraded. The only drawbacks are the ridiculously low-flow shower, the accompanying leopard skin shower curtain, and the underlying sense of clutter. There’s just a lot of random furniture down here, most of it seemingly needless. For instance, for some unknown reason, there’s a twin bed—complete with sheets and blanket—pushed against the wall in the dining area. Everything is semi-organized, and there are ample walkways between it all to get around, but there’s definitely more stuff than there needs to be.
On my way out of town back in May, I was talking on the phone to Emily about everything I’d seen, and I summarized the two places I’d found to her like this: one I’d be proud to show my parents, one might be a little iffy.
And sure enough, when they came in town last week, my mom and dad’s reaction was “iffy” at best. I’d tried to soften the ground a little beforehand, warning them that it might look a little sketchy from the outside (there’s just a lot of unkempt foliage), and that there was that musty smell that’s common in older homes, but that was only so effective. Their faces told the whole truth and nothing but, as they soaked in the scenery of the deer antlers (or are they moose?) on the wall and of my bedroom that’s 88 percent bed.
They just kept saying, “It’s fine,” over and over—though it was unclear if they were trying to convince me of that, or if they were trying to convince themselves that it was okay to have raised a son who had deemed this an acceptable place to live.
Beyond laundry and Walmart, the main reason I stayed home today instead of sitting in the caddy shack was that I actually already have an assignment lined up for the rest of this week. The way it works is that, once you are assigned to a guest, assuming you don’t get fired, you stay with that guest throughout their entire stay. So I would’ve had to get somebody who just wanted a caddy for one day—a “one and done” (there’s some caddy lingo for you)—meaning my chances of getting a bag were that much further diminished.
Besides, I needed the rest, because my assignment for tomorrow is no ordinary bag.
Right after I wrote “Zihuatanejo,” the article that explained what I was doing in coming to Bandon Dunes and why I was doing it, I decided to send it out to some different sports writers. It was an attempt to publicize, to network, to connect with those who are currently what I one day aspire to be. Admittedly, I’ve never been great at promoting my work; I’m too afraid and too affected by rejection, and thus, it’s always safer to not risk the fallout and to simply keep things to myself. Plus, whenever I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and reached out in the past, my inquiries have almost always gone unacknowledged. It’s like my messages were sent out into a black hole, never to be seen or heard from again. And that’s basically what happened this time; the guys I contacted remained silent and never responded.
All of them, except one.
Matt Ginella is a former editor for Golf Digest and a current contributor on Golf Channel—with weekly appearances on “Morning Drive”—and writer for golfchannel.com. And within minutes of receiving my tweet, he had kindly written back, letting me know that he thought it was cool what I was doing while simultaneously restoring my faith in humanity. Just to have somebody in his position take the time to acknowledge me, to pass along a much-needed word of encouragement, it meant more than I could say. It was a subtle yet significant validation that this was a risk worth taking.
Since then, we’ve stayed in touch some through Twitter, and he’s continued to be just as considerate and thoughtful in responding to me. And whenever he’s been kind enough to mention one of my blog posts on his feed, it’s almost certainly led to me picking up a handful of new followers.
And now, in an unbelievable stroke of synchronicity, he’s actually coming to Bandon Dunes.
When he initially told me this last month, I couldn’t resist floating the idea out there about caddying for him. I had no clue if anything would come of it, but sure enough, I was notified a few days ago by Caddy Services that he’d actually called and requested me.
So from tomorrow through Saturday, I’ll be in his group, giving out yardages and reading putts, hopefully helping to accurately guide him around these courses that I’m still trying to figure out. It’s a little nerve-racking, to be sure, because I’m anxious to do a good job for him (hopefully, I got all of my bad putting reads out on my poor father last week), and because I don’t want to make him feel foolish for investing any amount of time in me.
But more than anything, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for the opportunity to get out of the shack, and I’m grateful to get to actually meet him, when I can officially introduce myself, shake his hand, and finally tell him, “Thank you.”