Sports

Decatur junior hasn’t been on Judge Smails’ golf bag — yet

Decatur High School junior Matt Parker has played golf for years. And because of that, he’s heard every line from the movie “Caddyshack” over and over and over again.

There’s only a few sure things in life — death, taxes and during any round of golf, on any course in the world, there will be a reference to “Caddyshack.” There’s no way of even arguing.

Who hasn’t tried to fluster their buddy by pulling out the “Noonen, Noonen,” while he’s standing over a short putt or yelled “It’s in the hole!!” after a shot unexpectedly goes into the hole?

But Parker is actually living the life of a caddy. One of the best players on the Decatur Gator boys golf team is a working bag carrier at the new Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place.

“It’s a blast,” Parker said. “But it’s not really like the movie.”

Meaning no Judge Smails just yet.

Parker’s job at Chambers Bay is a pretty simple one. He must fulfill his player’s every need on the course. That’s it.

Parker is responsible for understanding the layout of the course’s 18 holes, the distance to the flags and the roll of the greens, among a million other things. It’s his job to worry about all the other outside factors so his player’s only task is to concentrate on his or her golf game.

“I want them to have a great golf experience,” Parker said.

And that’s really not a hard goal to accomplish at Chambers Bay. The brand-spanking new $21 million course opened its doors in June and has been wowing the golf community ever since. The Scottish-style links course was constructed on land that used to host an aging gravel pit. The course has breath-taking views of Puget Sound and the price tag to play ranges from $85 to $150 a round.

Parker heard about the opportunity to become a caddy at Chambers Bay from his brother, Brandon Solomonson, and two other former Decatur golfers, Chris Altom and Travis Disbrow.

“There wasn’t really an interview or anything,” Parker said. “I just went down there and they have caddy training. They show you how you are supposed to caddy. Things like reading greens and getting the right distances.”

The caddies at Chambers Bay range in age from 16 to 65 years old and are both men and women.

Chambers Bay’s caddy program is modeled after those found at other golf courses across the state and country, including Tacoma Country & Golf Club and the Seattle Golf Club.

As independent contractors, Chambers Bay caddies do not receive money from the golf course, Haines said.

Their pay comes directly from golfers, who are required to pay a flat $35 fee for a caddie to carry their bag. The course suggests an additional gratuity ranging from $20 to $100, depending on the caddie’s experience. Golfers are not required to use a caddie.

“You just show up whenever you want and sign up on a list and they read your name to go caddy,” Parker said. “The best times are early in the morning or early afternoon.”

Parker worked every weekend during the summer and did do some caddying during the middle of the week. He would complete one loop, which takes four to six hours, most days.

“One guy gave me $110 for one round,” Parker said. “And one day I did two loops and made $180.”

Chambers Bay officials estimate that about one-third of players who visit the course ask for a caddy. The course hosts between 100 and 220 golfers a day.

“It’s actually pretty hard work,” Parker said. “It’s hard on the legs, climbing up and down dunes. You have to be in good shape. You just have to listen and give 110 percent to your guy.”

The caddying work seems to be paying off in Parker’s actual golf game. The junior fired the low round for the Gators during their loss to Jefferson on Tuesday at Riverbend Golf Course with a 2-over par 38.

“It’s kind of a cool job,” Parker said.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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