From Chicken Soup for the Golfer's Soul The Second Round

Dr. Scholl’s Caddy

I spent many a Saturday and Sunday in my father’s 1946 Chevy parked in the lot at the Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. My father would earn extra money as a caddy, and he would always tellme not to wander too far from the car. The pro at the time was George Jacobus who was also president of the PGA at one time. In the thirties he hired a young pro named Byron Nelson as his assistant. My dad showed him to me one day and said, “Make sure you are near the car if you see Mr. Jacobus around.”

Well, after a few Saturdays and Sundays, I had my timing down to a T. I could run to the woods to watch the members play and shag some balls for fifty cents. All in all, I felt I wouldn’t be seen away from post. I had an old 5-iron, and when I would see Mr. Jacobus pull away in his car, I would run over to the practice fairway and try my luck. I tried not to make divots because then I would have to waste too much time replacing them.

Once I began to make contact, the ball would sail so far that I was afraid to retrieve it. The members who I shagged for usually parted with a few old balls and kept me in supply. I stashed my old 5-iron and the balls in the rough off the practice fairway so if I was seen walking around, at least I was empty-handed. I soon noticed that every golfer wore the nicest shoes I had ever seen, just like the pros in the magazines and on the television. I worked extra hard that summer shagging balls and even washing some of the members’ cars in the lot. The caddymaster took a liking to me and supplied the soap, pail and towels.

One day as I was sneaking toward my cache of club and balls, I noticed Mr. Jacobus leaving the clubhouse. I ducked behind a huge Buick that would have stopped an artillery shell and was sure I was not seen. As I watched his car round the bend I grabbed my 5-iron, chucked the balls onto the fairway and ran over to practice. For sure he had gone home—it was almost 5 o’clock. My dad should almost be done with his second round. As I approached the balls, my sneakers slipped as I was taking the biggest swing I could muster for a ten-year-old and landed on the seat of my pants. I didn’t have a chance to get up when I heard a voice behind me say, “Son, I’d say that was a little overswing.” It was Mr. Jacobus and was I ever speechless. “You need two good things to hit that ball, Son, ” he said. “A better swing and a pair of golf shoes.”

I guess he knew how hard I was working to earn a pair of my own, and he took me into the locker room and told the attendant to find me a pair in the pile of old golf shoes slated to be tossed out by the members. After a few minutes of trying on shoe after shoe, the attendant came out with the neatest pair in the pile. Black-and-white wing tips. I saw Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer wearing them. The attendant said, “Try these on.” I remember him saying over and over, “These are Dr. Scholl’s, these are Dr. Scholl’s, this is a great shoe.”

They fit like a glove, and the attendant polished them and buffed them and even replaced a few spikes. After all, Mr. Jacobus put him on the case, and he was up to the task. My dad returned after his caddying and couldn’t believe his eyes. He asked me where I got the shoes, and I told him the truth. “Some rich doctor was throwing them away, and Mr. Jacobus gave them to me.” He had to pull over to the side of the road on the way home when I asked, “Hey, Dad, did you ever caddy for Dr. Scholls?”

Dennis Oricchio

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