An Old Caddie Looks Back
Reflections from a Town that Loves Golf … and Tiger.
From the author’s foreword:
Golf empowers. That’s the main message of this book. Much of the action takes place in Rockford, Illinois, a community that has been one of America’s most supportive golf towns for generations. While Rockford embodies fundamental practices that can lead to golf flourishing anywhere, it also serves as a case study in how to keep the game healthy and strong.
An Old Caddie is the first serious attempt to dig beneath the surface of Rockford’s golf story. It is a memoir from my perspective, not a comprehensive history, and while my experiences and conclusions are shared by many who have contributed to the game in town, much is left unsaid here and should be the subject of future stories written by others.
My focus runs from the late 1940s through the early sixties and then picks up again in 1989. That’s when I meet Earl Woods and his thirteen-year-old son. A life-long Rockford buddy of mine, Bill Stark, had by then become a regular playing partner of the Woodses and introduced me to them. As guests of Earl, Bill and I attended the 1998 Masters where Tiger was defending champion. During that April return to a place we experienced decades earlier, we discussed the benefits of bringing Tiger to our old hometown.
Rockford is not only aware of the threats that can diminish the impact of the game, it is committed to addressing them.
Much of my story concentrates on Rockford’s values as they relate to golf. When I was a kid, the community was not a welcoming place for racial minorities who wanted to play the game. Now it is. This transformation became a focal point of my thinking in the book’s early development, and caused me to look back and anew at my past half-century of golf, and America’s.
The perspective I gained as a young caddie in the 1950s turns out to be powerful in retrospect. Caddying at one time was a step on the ladder toward upward social and economic mobility for countless youngsters in Rockford and beyond. Caddies see the empowerment of golf close up. They also witness sportsmanship, etiquette, good swing habits, bad swing habits, temper tantrums, four-letter words, and a cross section of other behaviors that in the final analysis offer a net benefit. The disappearance of caddies from all but a few elite private clubs has diminished the opportunities of contemporary young aspiring golfers.
However, the disappearance of caddying is not the only challenge for those of us who want folks of all ages to taste a bit of the potential empowerment of golf. And here’s where my old hometown impresses me the most: Rockford is not only aware of the threats that can diminish the impact of the game, it is committed to addressing them. As a callow young fellow generations ago, I thought that Rockford had to be one of the best communities when it comes to golf. I still do. Maybe the very best.
Readers’ Responses to the First Edition of An Old Caddie Looks Back…:
~ Greg Galen: Rockford
~ Gregory T. McLaughlin: President, Tiger Woods Foundation
~ Webbs Norman: Rockford Park District Executive Director/CEO/Historian
~ Roger Lindeman: Former National High School Golf Coach of the Year
~ Gary W. Anderson: Architect; Chick Evans Scholar
~ Steve Hare: PGA Golf Professional; Atwood Homestead Golf Course
~ Doug Scott: Former Rockford Mayor;
Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
~ Clint McCown: Twice winner of the American Fiction Prize, Clint McCown has also written feature pieces for Golf Digest. He teaches in the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University
An Old Caddie Looks Back – Where to purchase
The Second Editon of An Old Caddie Looks Back: Reflections from a Town that Loves Golf… and Tiger is available at the sources listed immediately below. It sells for $21.95. Its interior photos in black & white which makes it less expensive than its predecessor. A 2 for 1 golf pass, redeamable at four of Rockford’s courses, accompanies each. All profits from the sale of the book go to support youth golf programs.
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The First Edition of An Old Caddie Looks Back: Reflections from a Town that Loves Golf… and Tiger is available at the sources listed below. This edition has many interior color images and sells for $49.95 which includes 2 for 1 pass to Rockford, Illinois golf courses. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to support youth golf program.
- Rockford Park District
- Carlson Ice Arena – 4150 N. Perryville Rd.. Rockford, IL 61111 (815) 969-4069)
- Aldeen Golf Course Pro Shop – 1900 Reid Farm Rd., Rockford, IL 61107 (815) 282-4653
- Canterbury Books – (Highcrest Centre off of Alpine Road) 1662 N. Alpine Road Rockford, IL 61107 815-398-1454
- Golf Shack – 1631 N Bell School Rd., Rockford, IL 61107 (815) 397-3709
- Red Barn Golf Course – 829 S Blackhawk Blvd., Rockton, Illinois 61072-2937, email@example.com 815.624.8037
- Center for History – 315 W. Front Street, Wheaton, IL 60187 630.871.6601
- Country Club of Beloit – 2327 Riverside Drive, Wisconsin 53511 608.364.9011
- Krueger-Haskell Golf Course – 1611 Hackett Avenue, Beloit, Wisconsin 608.362.6503
- Book World – 2451 Milton Avenue, 608.756.4331
- Glen Erin Golf Club – At the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport (formerly Rock County Airport) 608.741.1100 (Pro Shop) Toll free 877.843.4536