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Caddie Program


Caddie Registration is closed for 2017

However, we are still taking applications from serious candidates throughout the season.

Please view the Caddie Manual HERE.

Please view the Caddie Contract HERE.

You may reach the Caddie Master by email at caddiemaster@hgcc.ca
or via telephone @ 905-648-2294 should you have any questions.


History of caddying a central part of HGCC

The art of caddying has been central to golf for almost if the game has existed. The notion of walking the fairway with someone carrying your bag, offering you insight and assistance, is an indelible part of the sport.

BY ROBERT THOMPSON

The most famous caddies are as well known as the players—Eddie Lowery, who looped for Francis Ouimet at the 1913 U.S. Open, despite being only 11 years old, or Angelo Argea grabbing Jack Nicklaus’ bag for one of 44 wins. More recently, there’s Jim “Bones” Mackay, who has caddied for Phil Mickelson for nearly a quarter century, and Steve Williams, the notorious looper for numerous players, including Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.

Caddies are an essential component of golf. And such is the case at Hamilton, where caddies have been part of the club throughout its history. And even when caddies have fallen out of fashion at most Canadian clubs—only a couple of clubs offer caddies to members and guests any longer—Hamilton has maintained a vibrant caddie program, one that is intrinsic to the club’s identity.

“As far as I know caddies have been part of Hamilton for as long as the club has been in existence,” says Scott Shannon, a Hamilton member who worked as a caddie for the club.

Noted Canadian golf historian James Barclay, who wrote about caddies in his history of golf in Canada, would agree: “The boom in golf between the wars saw the heyday of the schoolboy caddie. Many came from families where the money they earned caddying was needed to help make ends meet. The city boy would finish his morning paper run and head for the nearest club, looking to make 30 cents a round. Looking, too, to become as good a golfer as any he caddied for.”

Canadian Golfer, the Bible of the sport in the first half of the 20th century, added “every urchin was joined by other small urchins who brandished clubs alarmingly near each other’s heads, in a vain endeavor to master in a few moments the art of the perfect swing.”

Caddies were always important at Hamilton. Agnes Climie set aside money for an award for the top caddie each year, and in 1934 the board arranged for reduced bus fares for the young loopers.

* * * * *

The caddie program at Hamilton offers several advantages for both the course and its caddies. First and foremost, it presents an experience for the golfers in the way they interact with the caddie and how it affects their experience on the course. It also offers boys and girls an opportunity to learn the game, and at Hamilton it provides those young teenagers with access to the club’s world-class courses.

That was a key factor for Brian Jacobs. He remembers coming to caddie at HGCC in 1970, hitching car rides from members to get to the club at 5:30 am, finding the rare spot open for breakfast at that point and waiting for the right golfers to approach.

“You knew who you wanted to work for and who you didn’t want to caddie for,” he explains. “If the wrong golfers came, you’d just hide so they didn’t see you. It was all about getting the right group.”

Michael Ecker came to Hamilton as a caddie in 1974 at the age of 11. His older brothers, Jim and David, had both worked as caddies before Michael arrived. It didn’t take him long to figure out how to fit in and find a bag.

“I got $3 for my four hours on the course and a caddie special at the halfway house,” he says. “That was living large, I’ll tell you.” Ecker, now a financial advisor, said caddying taught him valuable life lessons. “It allowed me to bring money home, learn how to bank,” he says. “My parents told me to buy a savings bond. You got an experience and you met so many members who are so diverse and they all teach you something. One member was so polite, and there were others who taught me about the game and life. It was a wonderful experience.”

No one who played Hamilton in the late 1980s will likely forget the three Homier brothers—Karl, Marc, and Roch. They were triplets who worked as caddies over four years starting in 1987. An older brother, Eric, had already paved the way for the triplets, who weren’t identical, but could fool most people, says Karl, 42.

“It was easier for our parents to drop all four of us off at once,” says Roch, who worked with his other triplet, Marc, at Hamilton. The three were at the course at least six days a week, says Karl. “We’d get the same group of golfers more often and develop a relationship with them,” he says. “It got to be a lot of fun.”

The brothers, who didn’t play golf before they started looping, quickly became enamoured of the sport, a game they all play to this day. “Within the first two weeks of being there we played a round on the short course and were hooked,” he says. “I think we took clubs from the lost and found.”

That is a common theme—caddies with little previous golf experience would become players for life.

Jacobs, who would go on to join Hamilton and become Men’s Club Captain, was a baseball player with little experience in golf when he started caddying. That changed quickly.

“It was a sport and it had a ball that you could hit hard and go find,” he says, laughing. It didn’t take long for him to get hooked.

“Would I have found golf had I not worked at Hamilton? That’s hard to say,” he says.

That’s the key—the number of players like Shannon, Homier brothers, and Jacobs, who came to the club with limited experience with the sport, and left connected to a game that has been with them for a lifetime.

Ecker says he’ll never forget the experience of playing the Colt course on Monday mornings, racing around to make sure he got all the holes in.

“I’d play the course on Monday mornings by myself,” he explains. “It was like a magic feeling. I’m not sure even members got to experience that—playing the big course by yourself with no one around. It is a unique feeling.”

As a caddie, Shannon had one of the more interesting experiences at the club when he was picked to work with Jack Nicklaus in 1986, the year of the Golden Bear’s final major win. The event was a Pro-Am connected to the Canadian Open.

“No one expected Nicklaus to be such a big draw, but then he won the Masters,” says Shannon, who would go on to join Hamilton as a member. “Then it became a really big deal.”

Shannon was 19 when he worked for Nicklaus, and after years of touring members around the course, he had to contend with the large crowd that came to see the golf legend play. It was a challenging day, to say the least.

“It was a really wonderful experience and one I learned a lot from,” he says. “You really get a sense of the demands that are placed on the top pros.”

As times and demographic patterns change, so has the approach to the caddie program. Turf struggles in 2014 meant that not as many caddies got work at the club, something that’s impacted the program. The way Hamilton develops caddies—moving up in tiers as their experience increases— means losing a year is a significant factor. And caddies often come to the club from farther afoot, Shannon points out, making the trip to the club from the west side of Hamilton and Caledonia.

Still, the best caddies work more than 100 games a year, and the caddie banquet is still an important part of the club’s culture. “I think members realize how important [the caddie program] is, and how much of history it has at the club,” says Jacobs.

Ask Jacobs what role caddying at Hamilton had in his development and he pauses, but only briefly. Clearly caddying played a significant role in his connection to golf, a sport he plays to this day.

“I really think about it fondly,” says Jacobs, who works as associate director of rare endocrinology at Sanofi Genzyme Canada. “The fact I can remember the guys I caddied for, how much I got paid, what it was like during those days—it reflects how significant it was for me.”

And, it turns out, just how significant caddies were—and remain—at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.