Medinah Country Club, where I caddied as a teenager, hosts this year’s biennial Ryder Cup. Like the better courses in Orange County, Medinah has a colorful glossy yardage book, but for tournaments like the Ryder Cup, “Gorjus” George Lucas surveys, hand-sketches and publishes detailed yardage markers for the pros. You’ve probably seen Jack or Tiger or Phil in the fairway canoodling with their caddy holding a six by four inch booklet. Ever wonder what they’re looking at?
Here are first two holes from Medinah #3, the 7,657 yard, 152 slope monster, published by George for the 2006 PGA Championship. Though such yardage books for this week’s Ryder Cup are available only to players and caddies, Medinah has since made no substantive changes to the first two holes.
Gorjus George is a funny guy. He amuses us. His notes and codes poke fun at the pros. For example, tournament players should drive to the middle of the fairway, where there are plenty of sprinkler heads, stakes, markers, and other permanent monuments to step off accurate yardage to the next landing zone or green, but some of the areas have J.I.C (Just In Case). This is George’s way of saying, “your ball shouldn’t have landed here, but lemme help you out, just in case.” Some areas are labeled J.I.C.Y.F.U. or J.I.C.Y.R.F.U (you decipher).
During my caddy career most members had leather Kangaroo bags, Wilson irons, persimmon woods, balata balls, svelte wives, but no yardage books. Instead, on my first day, the caddy master handed us fourteen-year-olds a single sheet of paper with a single yardage feature for the longer par fours and fives. On about the third hole a member asked, “how far am I from the pin, caddie?” I whipped out my unhelpful sheet scanning the rough for clues like, “162 yards from the sixth tree along the right side of fairway.”
All told, there were eight of us on that hot, beautiful fairway—four members plus four caddies—and I felt sixteen eyeballs watch me count trees. Impatiently, the member snatched a six iron from his two-ton bag and swung. At the end of eighteen, a five hour loop in Chicago humidity, no tip for me, just the minimum fee for a B-level caddy, $3.75.
I spent most of it on cheeseburgers at the caddy shack.
— By Robert Keller