BANDON — The road to being a good caddie is paved with some important lessons. Or at least one especially important lesson: be prepared for any weather.
“One time when it was just pouring down rain and it was kind of unexpected and we weren’t thinking about it and we’re like, oh my gosh, and they still wanted to golf and I didn’t even have rain gear so I was so soaked and it was not fun,” said North Bend senior, and Bandon Dunes caddie, Coel Stark.
“One time I did two loops where I started in the afternoon and then I ended in the late afternoon and that wasn’t really good because I got sunburnt and I forgot sunscreen. Slightly dehydrated.”
While learning about unexpected Oregon weather patterns is a bonus, Stark has been working as a caddie at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort for the past two summers as part of the Western Golf Association’s Chick Evans Scholarship program. Stark is the latest recipient of the scholarship to come from Bandon Dunes.
The national scholarship program provides students with tuition and housing for college and is valued at $120,000. Over the past nearly two decades a total of 52 student caddies at Bandon Dunes have received the scholarship to attend four-year universities. Stark was a recipient this year and will caddie again this summer before heading to the University of Oregon in the fall.
“For me, when I think about it it’s like, I don’t know how this is going to work out because it feels like a too-good-to-be-true kind of thing for a little bit,” he said.
Stark is planning to study physics at UO while also being involved with the Air Force ROTC program in the hopes of being a pilot in the Air Force.
Stark, who had no real interest in golf before caddying, has big plans going forward, and they were helped into motion by his work on a golf course. That’s the hope of the program as it looks for individuals to award the scholarship to each year.
“I think this is great. I think this is another outlet to get out of Coos County,” said Vince Quattrocchi, the director of caddie services at Bandon Dunes.
When looking at applications, there are a few areas that Quattrocchi is looking for.
“The criteria is you have to be in the top percentage of your class; you have to show good leadership qualities; you've got to show financial need; and also your test scores from the ACT and SAT are also factored in. So those are all big factors,” he said.
As students look to have all their ducks in a row in school, they then head to Bandon Dunes where they begin their caddie training. Caddies get a tutorial in everything from how to stand and where to stand in addition to what to say and when to say it. There is taking care of the clubs, tending to the flagstick and having all-around proper golf course etiquette.
After going through the details, the new caddies shadow veteran caddies in an effort to know the resort's courses.
“That was the best opportunity for me, you go out there with a professional caddie and you go out and watch and how they go about their rounds and that was a great learning experience to get a feel for the course,” recalled Jaira Chaffee, who received the scholarship in 2011. “You can learn about golf but you can’t really understand it until you’re out there.”
Chaffee, a Bandon High School graduate, completed her caddie training and went to UO. The scholarship has a select group of schools on the list for recipients, including the University of Oregon.
For Chaffee, who is now the group service manager at Bandon Dunes, the opportunity to go to college was made real through this program.
“So I had always wanted to go to college. I’m the youngest of nine. So just the financial aspect of it was a little daunting,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if I would be able to afford it so once I heard about this, obviously, the financial aspect of it made commit even harder, which I’m happy about.
“I’d say it sounds too good to be true, but the special thing is that it’s not. It is as amazing as it sounds.”
Throughout their time out at Bandon Dunes, caddies are expected to complete around 100 loops. A loop is 18-holes of golf and each loop takes around four hours and is, generally, about seven miles of walking.
While making sure golfers are as prepared as possible for the round of golf, caddies also have other essential jobs.
And often, it goes beyond golf.
“You have to talk to adults. You kind of have to grow up a little bit quicker in this job,” said Quattrocchi. “You’ve got to understand how to read people, how to be around them, how to shake hands, how to talk to them correctly and how they talk to you.”
It’s all part of the process to being a successful caddie.
“Part of being a good caddie is being socially interactive with them,” said Stark. “You’re not just a bag carrier the entire time, we could get robots to do that.”