Earlsferry boys were good golfers and all have been
caddies at some time or other.
At the time I caddied, Sandy
Henderson was the starter. Sandy knew the benevolent and
generosity level and the golfing ability of the various
golfers and always assigned me with one of the best players
and payers. Although there was a general amount that caddies
expected for their services it was left strictly to the
golfer as to how much he actually did pay the caddy. Some
men were generous to a fault and there were the others. It
wasn't long before the caddies had them all ranked. When the
ones high on the totem pole showed up every caddy
clamoured to be chosen. When
the lowest on the scale appeared the caddies would
While waiting to caddy we had a
variety of games that we played. A
favourite was called chuckies
which was a game of skill played by arranging five stones in
the hand, throwing them up in the air then catching them
all again as they fell. Another was pitch and toss. In
this game a stick is stuck in the ground and a circle is
scratched on the ground around it. Then from a
distance of about fifteen feet pennies are pitched at the
stick. The owner of the penny nearest the stick collected
the lot. Another game was odds and evens which involved
each player to throw a penny into the air, catch it and
display it on the back of the hand. Odd man won.
There were other variations of this game.
Caddy tales of the golfing
prowess or lack thereof of the various golfers would fill
In my early days golfers shared
the links with sheep that wandered the common lands of the
links at will.
Three of the players (not their
real names) who always gave me a chuckle when they showed up
were Dannie Ballantine,
Frankie Anderson and Freddie Brown. When
Dannie showed up he was more likely to be more
than a little bit tipsy than not but in his favour he always
paid well. He'd place a silver coin on his ball as he teed
off. If you found the coin you kept it. Frankie was a
tippler and he bloused about every shot. Freddie was a local
business man. All three had the same two faults, the booze
and the gowf. Dannie,
Frankie and Freddie invariably played together and oh the
merriment of that threesome. When their golf game was over
and they retired to the clubhouse it was drinks all around.
The three of them spent money like drunken sailors. And did
these three dress up. They were indeed dapper figures as
they sported Errol Flynn moustaches and all the rest. Flap
top brown and white golf shoes, gaudy Argyle knee length
socks with jerseys to match, tweed plus-four knickerbockers,
checkered shirt, bow tie and a golf cap. It seemed like
each tried to out do the other. They were a sight to
behold. As long as they splashed money around they had lots
of friends but as the years passed and the money dried up
their friends vanished like melting snow off a dyke.
Then there were the cheapskates,
the worst of whom was the corpulent Harry Rodgers.
Harry stuck his belly out, walked splay footed on his heels
and swaggered like you wouldn't believe. It was a wonder he didn't fall over backwards. The caddies named him Greezybelly. When Harry appeared all the caddies really
did vanish but there was always one who got stuck with him.
When the going rate was "Half a Croon" he paid a
"shullan" and a "tanner" and if he was
really feeling generous and magnanimous, "twa
bob". He even made his caddy stand around and wait to be
paid. When he finally did pay, he would say, "Take
this home to your mother and oh, here's a penny for
yourself." Harry owned one of the largest and grandest
beach front houses in the village. He was so full of
his own importance that despite his miserliness we all got a
good laugh at his antics.
The 13th. hole at the Croupie
Caddies became especially
attentive to the needs of their player on the 13th hole.
Just above the 14th. tee which was below the Croupie
Rock was a tiny refreshment tuck shop that, in the summer
time, sold Aero Bars, Cadbury's milk chocolate bars,
Toblerone, Rowntree's gums and pastilles and my favourite,
the best chocolate bar ever,
Duncan's hazel nut chocolate bar. Liquid refreshments consisted
of Adamson's clear, Leven made, fizzy lemonade and the drink of choice, Irrrn Brrru. It was great stuff and looked and tasted like it could
have been brewed from "rroossty irrron girrderrs frae the Forth
Brig." Usually the player paid for what the caddy
consumed along with what he himself did.
The caddies had a good way for
handling those who they thought had not done right by them.
The course had two short holes, the 3rd
and the 11th, at which, now and again, somebody
would make a hole in one. The 10th was a good
drive but it was here that quite a few holes in one were
made. From the tenth tee the fairway is up and over a hill.
When the ball is driven over the hill it rolls down over
the hill in the general direction of the green. Near the
green is an elevated outcropping of rock called the
From this vantage point players can be seen as they drive
off the 10th.tee. When an offending player was
known to be on the course a caddy (who wasn't caddying that
day) would station himself atop
the Lunder Law. When this caddy
saw the miserly players tee shot roll down over the hill
he'd run from his perch, pick up the ball, drop it in the
hole, then make himself scarce. A
hole in one calls for a celebration, whisky to flow at the
clubhouse and a generous reward to the caddy. Pay me now
or pay me later. The caddies had their method.
Then there were the duffers, the
clean, fresh air missers, (Mulligans), the ones who were always out of
bounds, the ones that cut the cover of the ball, the slicers,
the hookers, the players who'd lose their tempers and would
throw or bend and break their clubs. The caddy saw them
all. It really was a great exposure and a wonderful education.
Then there were the true
gentlemen and the gentlewomen, the real players of the game,
the ones who would in all humility and
sincerity ask the caddy for his advice.
There was always someone in the
village who had a little dog that
was an expert in finding lost golf balls. Some dogs have the
extremely uncanny ability to sniff and locate every lost
ball, even those completely hidden and buried deep in the
tall rough grass.
Golf can be an extremely
pleasurable and satisfying game but if there's one game that
can humble, humiliate, deflate
your ego and take you down a peg, it's golf. Just about the
time when you're starting to puff up, smirk and brag about
your prowess as a hot shot, your game is almost certain to
go to hell and you can do nothing right. The rot can set in
at any time. Usually it begins right after you've hit a
screamer of a drive right down the middle of the fairway,
followed by a magnificent approach shot and a long curling
putt that finds the hole dead
center. Visions of being an Arnold Palmer or a Jack
Nicklaus float in front of your
eyes. Now you've got it. This is going to be a round to be
remembered. One for the books.
One that you'll brag about in the
You're first man up. You tee up
the ball a little bit higher to make maximum use of the
tailwind. If the last drive went
like a scalded cat you aint
nothing yet. With a little extra oomph this one's
going to be pin high. With
a mighty swipe the club head descends, hits the ground
behind the ball and the ball goes thirty yards off the tee.
From then on it's all uphill.
Nothing goes right. You shift your stance. You fidget with
your grip. You hook to the left. You slice to the right.
You're deep in the rough. You lose your ball. You pitch into
a bunker. From 18 inches the ball rolls completely around
the cup to look at you. Aye, it's a great game.
Three great Earlsferry caddies that I
like to remember are Andrew Robb who lived in Allan Place
and the two Walker brothers, Jock and George. The Walkers
lived at the very west end of
the Ferry High Street in a very old stone built cottage that
was right next to the north garden of Earlsferry House. All
three men were in their 70's and each was over six feet tall.
I don't think any one of them had ever married. They had long been retired when I knew them. Colourful
characters to say the least. Andrew was a ex navy man and
always wore a navy jersey and his bell bottom navy blues.
Jock and George both had been men of the sea in the merchant
marine. Jock had a look-alike who was Lord Halifax and
this became Jock's nickname and he acted the part. All three
were knowledgeable caddies and their services were much in
demand. The threesome
were jovial men and they gave colour and interest
to the gowf and the Ferry in general. After a round of
caddying it was their penchant to retire to the
19th. hole where they never ever had to buy their whisky and
the more they consumed the wilder and louder became their
hilarity and their tales of adventure on the high seas. One time Jock returned to his cottage
to find his brother George laying dead on the floor. The
story is that Jock on seeing George laying there just shook
his head and made a typical Scottish matter of fact comment, "Aye George but you've
been a cheugh ane in yer day." When Jock also finally went to his rest
in the Kinneucher churchyard he had no living
relatives and the "authorities" had the Walker's cottage
demolished for road widening.
What a shame. No, what a tragedy. Just baffles me that we allowed this to
happen. To the best of my knowledge not one of us protested.
The Walkers stone cottage was tiny but it was many
hundreds of years old and just oozed old world Earlsferry
charm with its door in the middle of the front and a leaded
pane window on either side. Another lead pane window looked
out of the end gable with a view towards the West Sea where
the Walkers gathered sea coal for cheery warming fires on cold
winter nights. The chimney was in the crow
stepped gable of its west end. The roof was made of sturdy
and colourful red pan tiles. It was just a great snug and cozy
dwelling. One that most anybody if they lived in it today
would think that they'd died and gone to heaven.
To allow traffic to move faster
we razed the Walkers Cottage to the ground and ignominiously
carted it off and dumped it over the bank at the West Sea to
end up its days alongside of the remains of the ancient
Earlsferry corner house that was at the extreme other end of the
village. All you can do is shake your head in disbelief but
that's what happened. Come to think about it that's where
Wilson the Bobby's cottage ended up too when it was
demolished to make way for a grander edifice. The Walker's
and Wilson's cottages looked a lot alike and similar to The
Cross cottage that I was born in except that the Cross has a
stair and living space in the attic.
Caddying days were fun but in
addition to being fun there was a big bonus to being a
caddy. Most all of the players that we caddied for could
well in their youth also have been caddies and have carried their own clubs. Many of the players were very responsible individuals
in that they either owned or managed huge enterprises
abroad. Years later I was to find out that we young men
of the caddying fraternity were far more than just
caddies. We were raw material. A seemingly casual
question such as did you ever deliver newspapers at
four in the morning was a way of finding out if, one
day, could you be responsible for creating a highway over a
mountain, a bridge over the Zambezi or might you be able to establish a string of banks in India, manage sheep
ranches in Australia, a tea estate in Ceylon, (Sri Lanka") a diamond
mine in the Transvaal, a chromium ore plant in British
Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) or one day captain a new Queen Elizabeth
ocean liner. Because of the relationships formed between the
players and the caddies many a caddy ended up in a responsible position in one of their
men that I mostly caddied for and who made a
considerable influence on my later life were Gerard (Monty)
Moncrieff who lived in the house Seaforth at Telfers Wynd
and Commander Heathcote who's home was The Deck at Chapel
Green. Both of these men were men of great accomplishment
and integrity, what today you would call old world
aristocrats. Sometimes the two of them played together and
on these days my choice was Monty.