The Coast Tournament has always been a highlight of the summer. For some, the highlights come from seeing friends and family who they haven’t seen in years; for others, they finally get to order a Grape Vodka Cooler without asking to have it made the “Astoria way;” and for some, the caddy gig makes for a great summer job.
Understandably, most of the focus throughout the week is on the golfers. What doesn't go unnoticed, but might not be as talked about is the work the caddies put in. They're at the courses before the player is, cleaning clubs, stocking drinks and getting everything ready to go. They help read putts, figure out yardages, tend the flags, and are always there to meet the golfer’s beckon call.
Steve Hval started caddying in 1977. He, like most families that come to the Coast, looked forward to packing his dad’s bag every year. The two of them made it to the semi finals four times but could never get over the “hump” and make it past Friday and into Saturday. He eventually became a player himself—with his brother on the bag, and a number of others.
One year, he and his caddie were mid-round on the course, and his caddie made a quick run to the snack shack to get some things that would freshen up the round. Steve was focused on his match and wasn't paying attention to what his caddie was grabbing. The two moved to the next hole—Steve on the tee, and his caddie with his over-the-shoulder walking bag beside him. He handed Steve his club of choice and Steven noticed the grips were wet mid-exchange. He dried them off himself and hit. Once they got to the next shot, same issue. It's important to note that sometimes at Astoria wet grips aren't even a second thought because of the weather conditions but, this time the sun was blazing and there was no reason for that. As they walked down the fairway, Steve noticed their traces were trailed with water that he attributed to a drip coming from the bag. His caddie, full of embarrassment, admitted that when he had picked up a few beers at the last checkpoint, he filled the golf bag with ice to keep them cold as they went on. Naturally, the ice melted, and needles to say, it was a rookie mistake.
Steve's takeaway: if you’re going to keep beers in your bag, ditch the ice.
From the early mornings to the long days and all that's in between, the caddy role isn't as easy and glamorous as it appears. The unique structure of the Coast tournament allows for players and caddies to switch on and off until Wednesday (when drop flights are final, and rounds are no longer guaranteed), so it makes for quite a long week. Nonetheless, the job makes for a memorable one.