Bo Bozeman is waiting inside the Oconee clubhouse. Hello, boss. “You’re out of uniform,” he says. I start to take off my hat. “No, no,” he says. “The hat’s fine. Everything else is not.” My confused look and empty hands tell him I did not bring options. Clearly, these first 30 seconds are not putting me on the fast track in the Reynolds caddie program Bo manages.

Bo retrieves a white shirt, white shoes, and khaki shorts. They don’t really fit, or maybe it’s me that doesn’t fit. Bo had 260 applications for the 40 caddie positions he filled this year. The applicants’ average age: 24. Their average golf score: low 80s. The numbers do not bode well for my future on staff.

“Where do we eat lunch?” I ask, confidently assuming I’ll be around that long. “In the caddie office,” says Bo. “There’s a fridge and microwave in there.” “What about the steakhouse?”

“If you have a good day, maybe you can afford it,” says Bo. He does me the favor of sending me out with his most tenured caddie, who has a personality to match his Irish bloodlines and red hair.

Brian Linney is 31, has been caddying since he was 15, and looks really good in uniform. “Just follow my lead,” Brian says, slathering on 75-SPF sunscreen (he goes through at least one bottle a week). We’re paired with two local guys in their 30s. As we stand at the tee box, Brian sidles over to me and says, “Don’t look bored. Put your hands behind your back.” So far I’ve learned that I don’t know how to dress or stand on my own.

As we walk down the fairway, me trying to absorb everything Brian does and says, he whispers over to me. “Stop walking so close to me. You need to walk next to your guy.”

I might be more prepared had I gone through the entire caddie training process, which includes a 150-question assessment and interview where candidates are asked things like, “How would you approach an unapproachable player?”

Instead of knowledge, I have Brian. He’s caddied 500 rounds on the Reynolds courses and played 1,000. Not long ago he shot a 67 on The Oconee. For this job, he knows how to read people as well as he reads the course. “Keep it loose,” he tells me. When his guy rolls a shot along the grass, Brian says, “Hey, you kept it out of the wind.”

But there are times when a player is in no mood for playful banter. “If someone throws a club? I walk past it,” says Brian. “They can pick it up themselves. Golf is a game of integrity.”

For the rest of our loop, Brian teaches me the nuances of caddy-nomics. Circle behind putts to show you’re actively reading them. When holding the pin, wrap the flag in your hand to keep it from flapping. Use lingo to show expertise: “A six-iron will balloon here.” Perhaps most important of all, he says, “Always finish strong.“

My finish is in Bo’s hands, which are holding an evaluation back in the clubhouse. I return the all-white outfit and start tying my black shoes as he gives me the news.

“Positives? You’re a good listener. You get along with people. You need to work on refinement of protocol, though. And attire. But you might be OK.”

Might be OK. The words are on auto-play in my mind. Might be OK. That’s finishing strong on my loop.

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