Part 1: Caddies’ hard work on golf course
Receiving a well-behaved customer is lucky., If they don’t, the caddies have to hold back their tears to be able to continue their work and earn tips from customers, a necessary part of their income, as their salary for a 5-hour working day of 5-10km walking is no more than VND70,000 (US$3.3).
Obeying the slogan, ‘the customer is always right’, caddies have to bear unprovoked insults whenever a player misses his stroke, especially during a game of betting.
Two of Tuoi Tre’s female journalists have recorded their two months disguised as caddies – a time full of both fun and tears.
On a November morning last year, 20 young girls from Hanoi and neighboring provinces came to the HP golf course in the northern province of Hoa Binh for a recruitment contest.
One contestant told another standing close-by, “hey, you are tall and seem OK here, but why don’t you wear sexier clothes? The experienced have told me a contestant should have careful make up, wear high heels, and more exposing clothing to be recruited.”
Actually, many girls looked sufficiently exposed, with thin clothes in the cold morning of the wintery day.
After walking in front of the judges and introducing themselves, more than ten girls were eliminated, while those with lovely appearances and suitable heights were admitted for a training course lasting around a month and a half.
At the BS golf course in the southern province Binh Duong, recruitment was more difficult as contestants were required to possess English skills.
Not only pushing a stroller to carry the different golf clubs a player needs, a caddie must also learn the terrain of the course to inform players of the locations of hills, lakes and shrubs as well as distances between holes. In addition, a caddie must pay attention to wind direction and being able to predict the trajectory of the ball for the player.
Also, the caddie acts as a coach for beginners on the course.
To host a player at the BS golf course, with each round of 18 holes, a caddie has to walk pushing the stroller for around ten kilometers in 4-5 hours.
On their first working days, a novice caddie serves managers of the golf course and is always given a warning when she is left far behind players.
A working day of caddie novices starts at 5:00am when the darkness of the night has not yet withdrawn (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
“Hurry up! Quickly! Try to do more exercise. How can you assist a customer with your slow pace?” a manager urged a novice, who always wears a white shirt. Well-trained caddies wear course uniforms
On training days, a novice is often not called by their name but referred to as ‘white shirt’. “Hey, white shirt, bring drinking water’, “white shirt, come here’, and ‘go quickly white shirt’ are commands from managers and other experienced caddies.
Most caddie novices run pushing their carts to catch up with players. Sweat pours from their heated-up bodies from hard labor on a cold morning.
A day of a novice begins as early as 5:00 in the morning when the darkness of the night has not yet withdrawn and the moon still hangs in the west.
On completing a round of 18 holes, players enter the restaurant while caddies push their carts to wait for when they can have the fast food and drink they bring from home.
If being rated ‘good’ after a month of working as a novice, a caddie will be given a uniform for an official start and salary is only counted from that date.
After two months of training and working as novice, the 40 new caddie recruits usually dwindles to 2-3 caddies who overcome the initial hardship of the job. Challenges await them ahead as they serve hot tempered customers.
The gap of caddie as ‘employee’ and player as ‘employer’ will clearly turn up soon.