Highlands Country Club Caddie Shack
by R. Keith Moore
Highlands Country Club has a rich history that includes the use of caddies. Older golfers, like this author, will remember scenes similar to those in this article with some fondness. Golf carts just can’t match the ability of a local caddy in assisting a golfer with a tough shot. As a boy, in the ealry 1950’s, I spent many an hour in the caddy shack at Pebble Beach waiting for a fare, so I can personally identify with this picture. In 1995, The Highlander newspaper published two articles by Highlands Country Club member, Bill Marett, about the caddy program at Highlands Country Club and caddies in general. The following are excerpts from those two articles.
“From the very beginning of the Highlands Country Club course, then known as the Highlands Estates Golf Course, when Bobby Jones hit the first ball opening the fairways, caddies were an important part of golf there. They certainly were a necessity in the careless days of yore.”
“There were rules and regulations for the caddies to follow. There was a caddy master and a caddy pen. A small, shack-like building near the first tee housed the caddy master and a sparse snack bar, stocked with candy bars cigarettes. Back of this was the caddy pen, an enclosure to which the caddies were restricted until summoned by the caddy master for a fare. Golfers could specify whom they wanted as a caddy. Otherwise, the caddy master decided who got what job. This could depend on a number of factors, such as caddy size, skill, order of work, or, lets face it, sometimes whim or caprice. On the backside of the pen, across a creek, was a shelter which provided caddies some relief from rain, which was frequent. For some reason, it seemed to shower nearly every day in the afternoon.”
“From the course’s opening and for many years thereafter, Mr. Scott Hudson ruled things with an iron hand. An Atlanta businessman and former president of the Atlanta Athletic Club, he was a founding member and the first president of the Highlands Country Club. He is credited with saving the club from extinction during the Great Depression in the early 1930’s.
As with many other matters, he made the caddy rules. Dugan Reese of Highlands recalls many of these. While awaiting a summons from the caddy master, caddies engaged in all sorts of play. These included pitching horseshoes, putting at makeshift holes in the ground, and all manner of gambling. Mr. Hudson allowed horseshoes but frowned on card playing, so this was frequently engaged in beneath the caddy master’s shack out of Hudson’s view. Violations often resulted in a two-week suspension. Few were banned permanently, however, as caddies were so necessary for play.”
“Hudson did not believe in caddies playing golf on the course, period. There were no caddy tournaments to play at odd hours as prevailed at some other courses. Consequently, with their makeshift equipment, caddies used to sneak onto the course for a few holes of play, mostly at dawn or dusk. This surreptitious play took place mostly on the back nine before houses had been built on that part of the course. In spite of these less than friendly opportunities for play, many caddies became quite adept golfers, most better than the golfers for whom they worked. Possibly the best of these is R. L. “Dugan” Reese, who began caddying at the age of eight and, as a teenager in the early 1940’s, caddied for Bobby Jones. Dugan’s home is full of trophies and memorabilia of tournaments he has won all over the region., from Asheville to Clayton. He remains to this day a keen striker of the ball. Dugan recalls that during 1940-42 caddies fees were 35 cents for 9 holes and 50 cents for a full 18 holes. If you caddied double the fee was $1, and one hour’s duty shagging balls was 35 cents. A 10 cent tip was the norm. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, before caddies disappeared from the scene, one or two flatbed trucks arrived daily loaded with boys and men from Franklin seeking caddy jobs. Reese recalls all the caddy masters from the first, Durand Wiley, to the last, Harold Speed. In between were Leon “Stump” Calloway, Harry Baty and Claude Calloway. Among caddies who come to mind are Clarence, Jess and Leslie Munger; Leslie, John, Marshall and Wayne Reese; Hiram and Teeter McKinney; Bruce Edwards; Buck Holt; and Peter Paul.”
“The caddies shown in the picture on the right are on #7 fairway at Highlands Country Club. From left to right they are Hiram McKinney, caddy for C. V. Rainwater; Leslie Reese for Veasy Rainwater, Jr.; John Reese for Fred Tolton; Bruce Edwards for Crawford Rainwater. What a great part of the history of Highlands and Highlands Country Club!”
“The late Gunby Jordan, a long-time member of Highlands Country Club , wrote a book entitled ‘Caddies’. Jordan, a prominent Columbus, GA businessman, was the founder of the Southern Open, a PGA tour golf tournament played annually at Callaway Gardens, GA. His book is full of salty stories featuring the very funny and sometimes caustic humor of caddies the world over. Many caddies learn to mimic the mannerisms of golfers as well as their foibles. They are quick with the quip and the assignment of nicknames.”
I hope you have enjoyed this brief rearward glimpse at the history of golf on the Highlands Plateau.