The basic golf club has always had a club head, shaft and grip area. There was a time when the woods were referred to as the driver, brassie, and spoon - the difference being the degree of loft and a very small difference in the length of the club with the driver being the longest.
The nomenclature of irons was not standard among the various manufacturers. The longer irons were labeled as driving irons, midirons, numbered one, two, and three. The shorter range irons were referred to as the mashies, ranging from the number four iron on through the six iron. The six iron was often referred to as the spade mashie. The deeper irons fell into the niblick classification, ranging from the seven iron through the nine iron. The transition to solely numbers only began in the thirties and gradually the terms “brassie, spoon, mid-iron, mashie, spade mashie, mashie niblick and niblick’ faded away.
An interesting twosome comes to mind. The owner of the town’s sole movie theatre, the Graylyn, was a Greek person by the name of Jim. He and his wife Delphinia were charter members of the club and weather permitting played golf everyday. They arrived at the club a little after nine and it was every caddy’s desire to caddy for these people because there was a dime tip and a free pass to the movies involved. The caddy master maintained a list and the one on top of the list was “first out. ” Another provision for this twosome was they wanted only one caddy to carry double (carry two bags).
Del was a very small woman, almost five feet in height. She always hit the ball straight, but not very far, so it was easy to watch her ball. By contrast, Jim was a big man and a bit erratic with his swing at times and required vigilance. The interesting part of the game was the constant banter between the two. He always praised her shots while she interjected the more critical aspects such, as it should be a little more left, or a little more right. It was always amusing to hear Jim in his Greek accent such as “young man, give me the brrrassie, or the sppuun, or the maashie, or the neeblick.
They were very polite people, thanking you at the end of the game as you placed their clubs in the trunk of their brightly colored Hudson automobile. It seems that all they owned was brightly colored and well coordinated, their clothes, their yellow house and the color keyed appointments in the theatre.
Doc Mills was a charter member of the club. He was probably in his sixties, tall and slender and a chain smoker, lighting one cigarette off another. He even swung with a cigarette in his mouth. Doc was a bit shaky at times and one would wonder how he could ever hit the ball. Nevertheless, he was club champion on a few occasions. His clubs had limber buggy whip-like shafts and he always took an exaggerated swing so the flexing shaft gave him more power although sometimes causing a slice, which was embarrassing to him.
Doc was a good tipper and he even allowed certain caddies to use his clubs when caddies were allowed to play on Monday morning and at twilight. Doc was a good-hearted and caring individual, especially to the caddies. Whenever one was troubled with poison ivy, cuts, bruises, or other ailments it was just a matter of stopping in to his office and he would take care of you at no charge. But in those days one seldom went to the doctor unless there was a real serious health problem.
Doc Tremlett was a charter member of the club and a veterinarian in his late forties or early fifties. He was a huge jovial man with a belly laugh and most of the time was chewing on a cigar. Many times he substituted for a member of the Casino Gang. Doc had a huge heavy leather bag and carried a pint of scotch whiskey in it at all times. Doc’s schedule was less flexible than most members, because he might be out in the farm country helping the cows and mares deliver their young at any time of the day or night. He finally married a nurse from the local hospital who was much the same in character, but less inclined to alcohol. It was a pleasure to caddy for Doc, because he was a good tipper and there were many laughs all the way around.
Every once in a while he would dig into the bag and take a snort out of the bottle. He would kid the other members of the foursome and was ready to make a bet on any kind of shot or putt. By the same token, the members knew his weaknesses and would try to take advantage of him at opportune times. On occasion he would get an urgent call on the golf course, one of the caddies might bicycle out on the course to deliver a message that his assistance was needed out in the country. The trunk of his car contained the proper instruments and he was on his way. Doc was truly a dedicated veterinarian.
There was a fine group of women golfers in the club; for the most part they were the wives of merchants, bankers, and professional men. There were always a few mid-morning foursomes and it was a fun time watching them go through their antics as they set up for a shot. They were easy to caddy for because they were not long ball hitters and for the most part stayed on the fairways. They played much slower than men and very seldom did they tip, a nickel or a dime at most; however, a caddy soon realized that you can’t expect a tip every time, and there are a lot of different people in this world!
The “Edwards Gang” was made up of professional people from the village about twelve miles from the golf club. They played irregularly, but they were respectable golfers. Ray Cassidy had been a caddy in early life and had a beautiful golf swing and on a few occasions was a finalist for the club championship. Heinz Brodauff was an engineer at the mines and was addicted to golf in such a manner that to him every shot must be as precise as he could make it. He practiced and practiced and employed a caddy only during club matches. With all the effort he put into the game he felt that he never realized his full potential. Other members of the gang were “ordinary” golfers and got a good deal of pleasure from the game. It was a pleasure to caddy for them.
The Gouverneur Business Group was made up of bankers, merchants, and professional people and were fairly steady daily players. There was Nate “two Iron Nate” who was formerly a farmer who then went into real estate. He had a good eye, probably from hammering fence posts or otherwise swinging a hammer. His game was respectable, but he could never hit his woods. In addition, he enjoyed being out in the air where he could comfortably chew his tobacco and spit anywhere.
There was Dick Trerise, an executive of the small Oswegatchie Power Company that supplied electrical power to the area. Dick could strike the ball pretty well, but there was fidgeting before every shot, especially when his hemorrhoids were acting up. As a little side story on Dick, when electrical distribution was being made to the rural area there was one woman who lived alone. Dick introduced himself as Dick Trerise and suggested that she might like to have electricity installed. She replied, “I don’t care if your name is Trerise, Christ, or Jesus Christ, you ain't going to put any electric in here.
Bill Foster, an executive with the Borden Company was a steady player, he could hit the ball a mile. It was amusing to watch his setup for his drive; his facial expression was something else. Andy Laidlaw, the Savings and Loan Banker had an unorthodox swing, but he was steady and scored pretty well.
Of all the players, Joe MacAllister, the feed mill owner had a swing that resembled no other; He could take practice swings and look like a golfer but when it came time to take his shot he chopped with the club and rotated his lower body and somehow he struck the ball. We caddies tried to imitate the swing, as we awaited assignments, but could not hit the ball squarely.
Adam Schuler was superintendent at the local lace mill. He wore glasses fully a half inch thick. He didn't hit the ball very far and was easy to caddy for. Many times he played with J. O. Sheldon, the old bank president of the Bank of Gouverneur. J.O. was left-handed and used only five clubs, the spoon, mid-iron, mashie, niblick and putter, all with wooden shafts. He couldn't hit the ball far so it was easy to caddy for him. Besides the small canvas bag was extremely light in comparison to other bags.
Charley Ruderman owned Ruderman Machinery Exchange. He had been in an accident in early life and had a hunched back, but enjoyed the game. His swing was a lot like Joe McAllister's, but this was out of necessity. When caddying for Charley he expected that you would give him a “preferred lie.” (i. e. indiscreetly move the ball with your foot to improve the lie). There was always a good tip involved. Roy Randall was a banker and could play the game either handed, but did best right-handed. He practiced a lot like Heinz Broddaut but was much less intense.
Bobby Caten was the son of a W. H. Loomis Talc Company Executive. He was about the same age as some of the older caddies. During and after college he developed into a real good golfer and won the club championship several times. He could reach the 545-yard number five-hole in two shots with regularity. Mark Graves the son of the local Chevrolet dealer was a slightly built man. But he could really nail the ball, especially when Wayne Ritchie caddied for him. Wayne had the reputation for being able to disguise his actions to the extent that Mark always had a beautiful lie, allowing him to get a good clean shot every time.
The caddies at the club were made up of boys whose parents couldn’t provide much of an allowance, if at all, during the depression. This afforded an opportunity to see what the real world was like as well as a small source of income. The caddy master maintained a list and as a caddy was assigned he was crossed out and placed at the bottom of the list. If there was a “no show” the name went to the bottom of the list. Whenever the golf pro gave lessons, the caddy shagged balls at a set rate per bag and was paid by the golf pro. This was the same as having a turn at caddying.
The caddies hung out in back of the equipment shed and most of the time there was a penny ante poker game going on among the older caddies. The younger ones just watched and learned the game. The work force was quite stable with the older guys leaving for a better paying job and younger guys coming along with a desire to learn. There were cliques and a few fights that required arbitration by the golf pro.
There were ways to earn extra golf time such as cleaning golf clubs in the pro shop prior to storage for the next round, cleaning the various areas such as the locker rooms and rest rooms, weeding greens, and sometimes helping the maintenance men.
The pro shop maintained a good inventory of candy bars, along with a candy punchboard where the caddies always tried to beat the board Many times several caddies would pool their resources (which usually amounted to very little) figuring that they could win a bunch, but usually the board was the winner.
90 Country Club Road, Gouverneur, NY 13642
We have reciprocal agreements with many local golf courses.