This Job’s In The Bag Customer Relations Important On Resort’s Fairways

Wanted: 120 people with great attitudes to spend six hours a day, five days a week, working on their tans in a scenic outdoor setting. Big tips, big glamour, low stress. Winters off.


So are about 300 other people who think taking a real-life “Caddyshack” role is the best thing next to playing professional beach volleyball or surfing for a living.

Forget the cakewalk.

Only about 25 percent of those who came to The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course’s 1998 job fair will make the cut to become a greenskeeper, valet, beverage cart attendant or caddy.

“We are looking for the right attitude,” says Mike DeLong, director of the swankiest greens for several hundred miles.

“Not many employees are going to spend 4-1/2 to 5 hours a day with the consumer. The way they treat the guests has a big effect on whether the guests come back.”

Dealing with a wide range of golfers is difficult. “Some people want to adopt you and take you home to Minnesota,” DeLong said.

“Some don’t really even want to talk to you. Sizing that up in the first 30 minutes is tough.”

Then there’s the five-mile walk each day. Minimum.

Most golfing enterprises have converted to golf carts. Some of those carts even come equipped with Global Positioning Systems and little television sets that tell the golfer the distance to the hole and other information.

At the resort golf course, a caddy is the rule. It’s the personal touch, a live person who knows how to direct the customer to the restroom or the restaurant, as well as knowing the statistics of the hole.

Nathan Gray, who will return April 1 as a fourth-year veteran, acknowledges he’s had a book’s worth of funny experiences as a caddy.

His worst involved four “pretty drunk guys.” One of them had been riding Gray all day.

They got to the floating green. “He missed his putt from this close,” Gray said, holding his hands about 3 feet apart.

“He chucked his putter into the lake and told me to go in after it. I said, ‘I’m sorry sir, I’m unavailable to do that service.”’

The obnoxious golfer forgot about the incident after the next hole. And such instances are rare.

The man who accidentally backed into Fernan Creek while trying to read the putt on the 11th hole “just got up, shook off and had fun with it,” Gray said.

Gray, a student at North Idaho College, loves the work. The resort, he said, treats its employees extremely well, and dealing with some of the 30,000 golfers that play the course each year is great fun.

“Just being around so many nice people rubs off on you,” he said. “You come to work feeling good; you leave work feeling good.”

The resort hires about 120 caddies to work April through October. Most of those hired are resort golf course veterans; most are males.

The minimum age is 19, but the resort had one caddy who was 61. An avid golfer who lived in Spokane, the man caddied for a couple of years, then retired to golf full time.

Other caddies are retired Army colonels, retired firefighters, and school teachers wanting the extra income. Tips start at about $15 per golfer.

DeLong got his start caddying for his parents in their hometown of Oberlin, Ohio. His most poignant memory?

“Dumping my dad’s clubs in the creek,” DeLong said. “It was on the 18th hole, so at least he didn’t have far to play.”

Dad’s reaction?

“Dad was very good to me,” DeLong said with a laugh. “He went in after them.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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