“Are you good at finding a ball in the rough?”
Jeff, 16, looked down at the man who had asked him a question without making eye contact. Other caddies had told him to watch out for Bigelow, a millionaire who didn’t like to lose.
“Yes, sir. I spot well.”
This time Bigelow stared into Jeff’s eyes. “I have a very important match today—that’s why I want you to take care of my shots, understood?”
Jeff nodded, even though he was still weighing what Bigelow was expecting. If the golf shot went into the rough, Jeff was to make sure it would have a good lie. He was to be an accomplice to cheating. At the end of the round, if Bigelow won, Jeff could expect a big tip, maybe $50, or that’s least what the other caddies had told him.
Bigelow was playing a man Jeff recognized from the bank where his mother took out a loan to help pay for his sister’s medical care. The man had been nice to his mother.
After 12 holes, Bigelow was down one stroke, despite keeping all his shots in the fairway. On the thirteenth hole, Bigelow hooked the ball into the woods. Jeff was already 150 yards from the tee and in a good position to follow the flight of the ball past two large cedar trees. He dropped the golf bag and ran towards where he thought the ball had landed. He found it wedged behind a large rock—Bigelow would have to take a penalty and drop the ball two club lengths away, but no closer to the hole. Or, as Bigelow would expect, Jeff could move the ball to an opening between the two cedars.
Bigelow charged into the woods, about ten feet in front of his opponent. He let out a string of expletives when he saw Jeff standing by the rock.
“Tough break, sir,” said Jeff. Bigelow glared at him.
Ninety minutes later Bigelow slammed his putter down by the edge of the 18th green. He had lost by two strokes. He walked up to Jeff who was holding his golf bag. “You’ll never caddy for me again.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Watch your mouth son.”
For a moment Jeff thought Bigelow was going to slug him.
The banker confronted Bigelow.” Thought you’d like to know I had a spotter watching your caddy. He is an honest young man. Understood?”
The banker put his arm around Jeff. “Stop by the bank tomorrow after school. I’d like to tell you about a special program we have for high school students.”
Ten years later when Jeff moved into his first private office, he put a flat rock on his desk with a golf ball under it.