Caddying, the Hidden Gem of Golf

By Eleanor Jones and Elsie Husted, Drew Charter School Student Correspondents

Caddying is a hidden gem of the golfing world. A caddy is someone who helps a golfer during their round by getting yardages, helping with club selection, repairing divots, cleaning clubs, and they make sure their player has everything they need during a round.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, caddies provide reassurance and encouragement during a round helping manage their players emotions and game even when they don’t have their best day. Caddies are an essential part of a player’s round and we got to talk to a few special caddies today.

East Lake Golf Club, the course where the TOUR Championship is being held this weekend, is where we got to have a chat with East Lake caddies Ryan Barry and Charles Banks on their journey of caddying. Barry tells us that he began caddying in high school and continued to caddy full time throughout college and eventually began caddying for pros. Barry notes that he enjoyed caddying more than a 9 to 5 job. Barry learned the ropes of caddying from interacting with people and realizing what people were looking for on the course.

Beyond being a world-renowned golf course, East Lake serves as an integral part of the neighborhood and surrounding community. Barry was born and raised in the East Lake neighborhood. He has grown to love Atlanta through East Lake. Caddying was one of his first real jobs. Barry notes that a downside to caddying is that you never know who you’ll get paired with during a round. He recalls being told by a player “when I whistle you come.” In a situation like that he says “You have to be calm and stay professional at all times. You can’t lose your cool.”  Barry reflects on some areas of self-growth that he’s seen since he began caddying. “It kind of helped me learn to be a better people person because I was very shy when I was younger, and it kind of helped me open up and become a more outspoken individual.” Caddying has proven to be a lucrative career for Barry. He has caddied for icons like Bill Murray and Matt Ryan. Barry even met Korn Ferry golfer Logan McCallister who he now caddies for at East Lake.

Charles has a slightly different narrative. Coming south from New York, Banks tells us that caddying for him also started in high school and it has helped him pay for college and other projects he’s working on. Banks says that caddying is a skill developed over time and through experience; you can’t just be taught. As to some highlights ofnhis career, Charles recalls caddying for Steph and Dell Curry as well as Samuel L. Jackson.  When asked about the biggest lesson he has learned through caddying, Charles tells us “Caddying is 98% customer service.” As for his connection to East Lake, Banks admires everything that the East Lake Foundation does for the community and Drew Charter School. He notes that his wife was a Pre-K teacher there for nearly a decade.

After speaking to the two East Lake Golf Club caddies, we got the opportunity to speak with a PGA Tour caddie, Joe Griner, who carries the bag for Max Homa. He spoke about his relationship with Max. They grew up together playing golf, Joe being four years older. As Max became better at golf, Joe eventually became his caddy.  The pair live within a mile of each other and still play together to this day. Joe’s least favorite part of the job is the travel. He notes “It’s a lot of time away from home but there’s also really good times.” Joe reflects on his relationship with Max saying that their friendship hasn’t changed much. He says they have to be careful about how much time they spend together given they spend around 40 hours a week together. When asked what the biggest thing he has learned about golf Joe immediately responds “How hard it is at every level; even the best golfers in the world struggle.  It’s probably more mental than physical when they get this good.”  Joe tells us that as a caddy, it’s important to “keep it light” when Max isn’t having the best round. He says sometimes he brings up stuff that’s not related to golf. “I either tell a story of a joke or bring up dinner the night before, just so he’s not thinking about golf every two seconds.” Finally, Joe tells us that the best part about working with Max is their friendship. He says “I think it’s pretty special because we’re such good friends and I get to watch him live out his dream and be there for him so it’s pretty awesome.”