GRANT WHEELON, 31 Years on the job: 9
Hometown: Aiken, S.C.
Local knowledge: "Everybody over-reads our greens, including the pros. As a caddie, you have to be able to stand up and say, 'No, it's not a foot out; it's a ball out.' "
"Before starting here, I caddied at Augusta National for four years. The biggest difference between the two jobs? With all the hills at Augusta, it's actually a lot easier to carry two bags at the Ocean Course than it was one bag there. Most people hear the horror stories about this course, but when they get out here, they have fun. If you can't enjoy these views, go home. [Laughs] I think this is Pete Dye's best: big fairways and big greens. Miss your target and you're in trouble; hit your target and you'll make a lot of pars. The biggest mistake amateurs make is playing from the wrong tees -- 6,200 yards plays more like 6,600 on a typical day. But some guys jump on 6,600 because that's what they play at home and then they can't even make the carries to the fairways. You grow the rought just a little bit out here, as we did last year for the PGA Challenge, and it makes a world of difference. We'd have guys miss the fairway by two or three feet and we were having trouble finding the ball -- it really nestles. I caddied for Johnson Wagner here before the start of this season, before he grew the mustache. He really like the course. I've caddied for Dan Marino and former presidents. I got to carry Ray Allen's bag; his game's just as good as his jumper. At heart, I'm a beach bum, so it can't get any better than this job. We get paid to meet new people and take walks on the beach."
SETHE WEETER, 25
Years on the job: 4
Hometown: Brooklyn, Conn.
Local knowledge: "Out here you need to take some local advice, maybe skip a ball into a green every now and again. Another key: Bring enough golf balls."
"I'm in school here in Charleston to beome a nurse practitioner. This program I'm in now finishes in December. I don't know if I can continue to caddie after that, but I'll certainly try. It's not something you give up easily. It's hard to explain, there's just something special about this place. A lot of people think it would get old seeing this course every day -- it doesn't. A couple Augusts ago we had record rainfalls and my players decided to keep playing through 45-mph winds and sideways rain. It wasn't cold, but it was impossible conditions. You couldn't even see the ball. Once it left the club, you didn't know where it was going. Some players are overmatched out here, but I like the fact that it's accessible to everybody. I caddied for a couple one time who both shot in the 160 range. That day was...well, it was a long day. [Laughs] A lot of people are intimidated just by playing in front of caddies. I'm not really sure why, but everybody says it: "This is weird for me playing with a caddie, it makes me nervous.' We're no better than they are; we just know the golf course better. I've seen three aces. The last one was just last week, at 17. His buddies were on the way to the 18th tee watching it happen. It was about 165 yards to the flag, and he skipped it right in there. The club selection? That was his call, but I'll take credit for the yardage." [Laughs]
MARK "FURNACE" BLOOMER, 32
Years on the job: 12
Hometown: Lansing, Mich.
Local knowledge: "If you get into trouble, take your medicine and don't try to do too much --a 3-wood out of the heather or the sand isn't a smart play. Just wedge it out."
"I've been caddying for 20 years and playing golf for about 25 years. I started when I was 12 at the Country Club of Lansing. I loved it -- being outside and meeting new people every day. We just try to convince players to have fun out here and that a career round just isn't going to happen. If you can convince them to have fun, the good round will come out of that. Last year, on the Sunday that they canceled the Tour Event in Harbout Town [in Hilton Head, S.C., 100 miles south], we stayed open. We were out in near hurrican-force winds; it was probably blowing 60 mph. It was hard to walk, the rain was stinging, small branches were flying by us. The guys in my group weren't playing well, of course -- it was just to say that they did. The wind affects everything out here, even putting chipping. You have to read the putt and then you have to factor the wind into the break. We try to explain that to people and they're, like, What? As a caddie, you're battling the heat, the wind, the soft sand under your feet. You're walking 6 to 7 miles per day, and that's an 18-hole day. Double-loop days, you could be looking at 15, 16 miles. After that, you go home and you're not going out that night. You're going to bed."
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