Thursday, February 10, 2005
‘We work in paradise,” says Christian Morgan, describing his typical work day as a caddy at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. “Every morning some of the other caddies and I go out surfing at Carmel Beach, then I spend all day walking around outside, caddying 18 holes, and then we surf at sunset.
“I have guys I caddy for who are from Chicago and New York, who are the CEOs of America,” he says. “They say, ‘You can have my job.’”
It is easy to see why. The Pebble Beach Golf Links lies on a particularly beautiful piece of coastline, hidden from the rest of Monterey County and the world by stretches of trees and estate homes. The golf course is a carefully cropped landscape of trees and greenery. All offensive sounds have been neutralized, and even the air smells pleasant. This is the territory of millionaires, a bubble world.
Since its inception in 1919, Pebble Beach has reigned as one of the most highly regarded golf courses in the world and as a powerful celebrity magnet. Pictures on the walls of its shops and restaurants showcase celebrity matches between Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and world-famous amateur and professional golfers.
Morgan, who was born in England and moved to Carmel at age ten, spends his days with powerful people from around the world. But he’s got a lot of experience to lean on: he picked up his first golf club at age six, when his grandfather taught him the game. His job has its technical demands: he has to estimate how far it is to the to the next hole, and he has to pick the right kind of golf club for his player to send it there.
But he says his involvement with his client goes beyond the actual game.
“A caddy can be a therapist,” he says, “a friend and a psychologist. It can be pretty personal. You have to know how to reveal people.
“We spend five hours with a client,” he says, and then adds, smiling, “Hopefully more like four and a half. Their experience could be greatly influenced by the caddy’s performance.
“Golf is an extremely frustrating sport, very tough. You need knowledge of the game, but you also need a knowledge of people.”
The job has its more crucial aspects too. The wealthy have expensive ways of having a good time.
“We have guys we’re caddying for who’re betting five, ten grand on a hole,” Morgan says. “All of a sudden you’re giving advice on a putt that’s worth thousands of dollars.”
Over a pint at the Pebble Beach Lodge, Morgan philosophizes about the sport. “It’s a lifelong game,” he says. “Once you have the itch it never leaves you.”
“Golf is kind of like life,” he says. “It’s infinite, there’s so many possibilities. It can be humbling.
“And it makes people equal,” he says, “because you can play the same hole that Tiger Woods does.”
“We’re spoiled here,” he adds. “We get to hang out with rich people all day. I’ve caddied for Clint Eastwood, Cheech Maron, Don Johnson, Richard Roundtree, he was the original Shaft. Allen Rosenberg. Reggie Jackson. People from all over the world come here.”
Caddying for the rich and famous is a practiced art.
“There’s a certain code of respect,” he says. “You have to know when to keep your mouth shut, to not say stupid things.”
And, he says with a small flash of frustration, sometimes he deals with insensitive clients.
“Sometimes being a caddy, people will treat you like a second class citizen,” he says. “Just because you have money doesn’t mean you have class.”
But being able to deal with the spoiled rich has its perks. Morgan has been invited to follow a client to a match in Hawaii. And CEO clients will often send him gifts from their companies to say thank you for a good game. Morgan has received pants and golf clubs. “One time I got a vacuum cleaner,” he says, grinning.
Morgan makes it clear that caddying isn’t about the presents.
“If they offer, it’s nice,” he says.
Caddying has a character and unique place in the game of golf.
“You’ve got legendary caddies,” Morgan says reverently, “Like the Dog, the Foot, the Phantom…they’ve given personality to the caddy.”
He understands that someday he may have to leave the Pebble Beach for the everyday world.
“I love my job—it’s a great lifestyle,” he says. “But I’m not going to make enough to buy a house.”
But a caddy can always dream.
“I’d like to stay in golf,” he says. “I’d love to caddy on the Professional Golf Association Tour. In life there would be nothing better than that.”