Editor’s note: This post also appears on the blog at www.maderasgolf.com.
Also for a related read, scroll down a few posts to read a ranking of the most walkable courses in San Diego
Learning the nuances and proper plays of any golf course, and particularly one as undulating as Maderas Golf Club, takes time and is usually knowledge acquired over numerous rounds.
One way to expedite the process, however, is to outsource it by hiring a caddy.
Maderas is part of a group of San Diego courses that makes caddie services available to its guests through a partnership with premiercaddie.org.
Premier Caddie is owned by former UCLA golfers and experienced Southern California caddies Chad Beckley and Joel Tabachnick. Their staff of nearly 50, some of whom has their PGA card, caddies primarily at Maderas, Torrey Pines, the Grand Del Mar, Del Mar Country Club and Rancho Santa Fe Country Club, but can also be requested to work other area courses.
Beckley and Tabachnick founded their company two years ago with a mission of enhancing the service and experience for golfers on area courses and have been happily looping weekly rounds ever since.
Beckley’s particular caddying career grew from a love and talent for reading greens, he says.
“I’ve always read greens really well and that helped me get into caddying, which has honed my skills even more,” he says. “Caddying, for me, is extension of the playing experience that provides you another perspective on the game.
“Doing it made me fall in the love with the area courses all over again.”
That love has produced a thriving business. Beckley says Premier Caddie staffs around 200 rounds a month and is seeking to expand its course client base. The company staffs both recreational and competitive rounds as well as private events.
Beckley is a great promoter of the caddie experience and the benefits of hiring one.
“There’s no real relationship in sports like a caddie relationship,” he says. “A caddie can give you a confidence and comfort level on the course you may not have known before.
“That can help you score lower, or just have a better experience. For instance, if you’re going back and forth on the wind, or a yardage, or a putt, the caddie can give you the reassurance you need to commit to that play.”
And Beckley says that sometimes a play that, especially an amateur, wouldn’t make on his or her own.
“A lot of amateur golfers are timid,” he says. “For example, I’m an aggressive short-game player. A lot of amateurs don’t attack the golf course the way that I do, but I can give you the confidence to play that way.
“At a minimum, the caddie gives you another way to think about the course.”
The difficulty of putting Maderas’ large, undulating greens and the wide variety of shot options on some tee shots are a course reasons a caddie can be a great aid at Maderas, but neither of those are Beckley’s primary reason.
“The course plays a lot differently depending on speed, which varies there. If it’s fast and firm, you need a lot of knowledge to be able to go low there partly because the greens have so much slope and undulation,” he says. “And if it’s windy, which is there almost every day, the right play there can go a long way.”
Beckley says a caddie experience at Maderas is a great complement to the service experience.
“Their customer service is amazing from the top down there, so the partnership has been seamless.”
Not every caddie customer is looking to shoot a number, Beckley says. He says some just want a competent guide, or even a good friend, on the course.
“Resort caddying and competitive caddying are completely different, but for both the customer-service aspect is the main thing,” he says. “We have a lot of customers who just want to have a good time and get to know you over those 4 ½ hours. A good caddie is able to tell a few jokes and be able to relate to people.
“A lot of times they just want to get to know you and learn from your experience.”
Making the most of a caddie experience, Beckley says, is making the caddie aware of your expectation.
“When you hire a caddie, be very upfront,” he says. “The caddie isn’t just there to be there. He’s going to club you right and read the greens, and it’s your job to let him know he’s doing a good job.
“Or if you don’t want them to do something, like read greens, you’ve got to let them know that too. It’s as much a friendship as a partnership, so treat them like a friend.”
And friends share stories, which caddies also seem to have a ready supply of, especially about famous clients.
Among others, Beckley has caddied for professional golfers (Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples), professional baseball players (David Wells, Bobby Bonilla), professional football players (Kyle Boller), professional basketball players (Jordan Farmar) and … the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
One of the best non-PGA players? Professional hockey player Jeremy Roenick.
“Heck of a player,” he says. “Hockey players always have that nice takeaway and stay down through impact.”
Another of Beckley’s caddie testimonials comes from last year’s Farmers Insurance Open. Despite hitting 18 of 18 greens, Beckley’s player didn’t make the cut. He suggested a putter grip change to the player after the tournament.
“Being confident enough to make a suggestion to one of the best golfers in the world takes some guts,” he says, “but that’s part of the job. You’re there to help the player in any way you can.”
The levels of caddying service vary (a regular caddie or a fore caddie, for instance), but Beckley says a standard rate at Maderas is $160 to carry two bags and $115 for one. A standard gratuity is $100-plus.
Caddies can be booked as far as advance as you like, Beckley says, or at little as 24-hour notice.
And while you may ride during your round at Maderas, Beckley will walk, which he says is a good workout always, but especially at Maderas.
“It’s a pretty good walk,” he says, with a chuckle. “But walking is good for you and it gives you different perspective on the game.”
Maderas General Manager Bill O’Brien says Premier Caddie has provided a consistently excellent experience to golfers at the course, and he extols the virtues of the service.
“The caddie experience really enhances a round of golf,” O’Brien says. “Most of us, regardless of our abilities, day dream about what playing golf inside the ropes might feel like. Taking a caddy is the closest to that experience most will get. It’s so worth it.
“The memories tied to a round of golf with a caddy are some of my favorite.”