The adage of kids wanting to runway to join the circus never made sense to me. Elephants can be scary, and don’t even get me going on heights. But leaving home to caddy for 7 weeks? I am sure there are avid golfers everywhere who’d say, ‘when can I start and where do I sign up?’. I caught up with 36 A Day brand ambassador, Andre Martel, who in the late summer of 2021 was able to make the time to fulfil a dream opportunity, support his mental health, and gain insight into one of the greatest golf destinations in Canada.
The idea first arose earlier that summer when vacationing with family and friends in Port Hood, NS, only about 30 minutes south of Cabot on the west coast of Cape Breton Island. With the idea planted, and support from his family to take 7 weeks at the end of the season to pursue this, Andre was able to make it happen. “Essentially, I dropped my family off back in Manitoba and turned my truck around and headed back to Cabot for the next seven weeks”. The opportunity aligned to Andre’s mental health wellness journey, which he shared in an earlier post where he was introduced as a 36 A Day ambassador. “It was the support at home which really allowed me to pursue this”, he shared.
We discussed details of the opportunity; training, scheduling, what a normal day looked like along with any stories he cared to share. I am pleased to share his words which captures the experiences so well:
“Technically, yes, there is training available. Cabot makes determinations as to whether caddies are A or B level, and this is through their knowledge of the game, the courses, and the ability to engage around the needs of players. Some people want detailed reads of the course, especially the greens. Others simply want you to accompany them on a golf experience, helping a little but telling stories of the course and the area. I am a good player, and speak French, which was an asset and was placed as an A caddy. But training? There wasn’t really time for anything too detailed or formal. All season long, they were at about half their usual complement of caddies. And for the off-season, I was one of 80, again, less than normal but Covid made it anything but a normal golf season. When I arrived, I played a round with the Head Professional and that helped to make the determination of me being A or B. Covid and the Atlantic bubble made it unique, but it was good timing for me”
“I took to the greens well, so it helped me to be an A caddy. In my first week I caddied one round a day and after that I caddied two rounds a day for the balance of my time there. The last week, for each round, I would carry two bags for each round. Cliffs is really an experience for players who are new to it, but it is a tougher walk. Looking back, I walked 527 km or about 480,000 steps. I had three toenails fall off, but the experience was so worthwhile. Being late in the season, the weather had its moments. The windiest day of all that I caddied was the second round of the RBC Challenge. The wind on 16 was a consistent 63 km/h, with gusts to 75. It was crazy.”
“Cabot appreciated the fact I could speak French. A memorable moment for me was caddying for a former NHL’er. More specifically, I was excited for my Dad who was a big fan, even more so when I brought a signed hockey card home. In the RBC Challenge I also caddied for a French speaking group. Another cool experience was when I took a few days off to go play Highlands Links. There, I was paired up with players who had stopped there before making their way to Cabot. When they learned I was a caddy there, they called to request me to caddy all their rounds. We ended up spending a week together, even having dinners together. I met so many wonderful people.”
Our conversation flowed like the gentle layout of the Links course. I concluded with asking about whether he’d recommend the experience and what advice he’d share for others who are faced with this opportunity:
“Oh yes, the experience was incredible. I felt so fortunate to have access to two of the country’s best courses. Caddies have playing privileges, but it was late in the season, so I often played late in the day, getting in 10-12 holes before dark. I met some great people. I talked to caddies who work all summer, and they could make some decent money for the season, especially if they’re willing to work two rounds and carry two bags. I promised my wife this experience would cover itself financially (laughs) and with people booked in all season, it was easy to find work. Advice? I was confident with the golf side of things, but I would listen to people telling stories of the course or the history of the community. I let the course know my willingness to work more as time went on”
“The experience of being in small-town Cape Breton Island was unreal. I felt like I was part of the town, yet so few of the town people play. There are even some caddies who don’t play golf.”
My final question was if he’d ever consider going back and doing it again.
“I may. I don’t know about the timing though. I am exploring opportunities to caddy at Cabot Saint Lucia, the family would love to come down there! The course was kind enough to hook me up with the folks at Bandon Dunes too, so that is another option. But Mike, I loved it and will never forget it. As a golfer myself, it was so enjoyable”.
Thanks to Andre for sharing so freely. I know this is not an experience many of us will be able to consider, but I hope this provided some insight, and for a moment, allowed to us to live vicariously through Andre’s late-summer caddying experiences.
*All photo credits to Andre, with my thanks*