It's About How You Spend Your Time on the Course (Lesson #7)

Jul 31, 2023 by Mike Magluilo
Lesson #7: It’s About How You Spend Your Time on the Course

Job chores bills drive your kids to practice get to the gym remember to call your mom. When life becomes a list of what you have to do, stop and appreciate the things you get to do. 

I started caddying as a way to make money, save for college. I got out of bed in the morning because I had to caddie. I wanted nothing more than to finish the round, collect my pay, and ride my bike back to summer vacation. 

Five hours wishing I was somewhere else was a miserable way to spend a morning. Quitting would have been easy. Unlike jobs with a schedule and a manager, you don’t really quit caddying, you just stop showing up.

The reason I kept heading to the caddie shack is I really wanted to be a caddie. The older caddies earned the best loops. They were confident and strong and suntanned. The members respected them. A few of them even earned the “Chick” Evans Scholarship which changed their lives. They didn’t waste time wishing they were someplace else. They smiled and joked and laughed because they knew they had the best summer job in the world. 

So, I tried to reframe my relationship to the job by emulating the older caddies. Instead of viewing caddying as something I had to do, I looked at it as something I got to do. Caddying let me work outside, in the company of other caddies, and for leaders in my local community. Being a caddie provided a sense of belonging, paid in cash, and included lunch. 

Caddying let me spend the day with people older, wiser and more personable than me. It was like a paid internship that allowed me to wear shorts. 

The more I caddied, the more the members I caddied for expected from me. The job never stopped challenging me socially and intellectually. Caddying introduced me to people I consider my closest friends today.

Caddying taught me it’s not about hacking your way through eighteen holes just to celebrate the final putt or collect your tip. It’s about how you spend your time on the course. 

In an early scene of my novel A Reason to Run, seventeen-year-old Sam “Bags” Bagliarello encounters this lesson when discussing his plans for college with his caddie master Teddy Lincoln. Bags is torn between majoring in journalism given a love of writing, and finance given his desire to make lots of money. After Bags describes his interest in a job on Wall Street, Teddy responds, 

“Sounds…miserable…if you ask me. Actually it sounds a lot like being a caddie—with less sleep.”

“It’s not about the day-to-day,” Bags says. “It’s the prize at the end.” 

“Let me ask you a question,” Teddy says. “Do you know why there are eighteen holes on a golf course?”

“Because they invented the game in the place that gave us yards instead of meters?”

“No—Although that might explain why it’s not twenty holes. The point I’m trying to make is, golf wouldn’t be much fun if you hacked your way through the course for four hours only to enjoy one green at the end. It’s about how you spend your time on the course, Bags.”

“I hear you, but if I bust my ass for a couple years, I’ll be free to do whatever I want after that.”

“Good luck chasing your freedom.” 

I try to remember Teddy’s advice, learned long ago carrying golf bags, whenever I take for granted the inconveniences standing between me and what I want. Difficult clients, terrible service, slow traffic, bratty kids, cutting the grass, revising my novel, leaky plumbing, crummy weather, exercise. 

Some days I want the freedom of having crossed everything off my To-Do list. The best days are when I realize where that would leave me and thank God for giving me another chance to carry my bags another hole.