Johnny Shields, a 20-year-old from Stonewood, spends his summers as a caddie at Pete Dye Golf Club. He is a junior at West Virginia University and is also a resident adviser at Dadisman Hall dormitory. He can be found during the school year dispensing advice to curious freshmen. Shields is majoring in industrial engineering and maintains a 4.0 grade point average.
This is his story, as told to staff writer Jennifer Biller.
This is my seventh year caddying. I started between eighth and ninth grade. I had never been on a golf course before. The first time I went out, I had no clue. I was self-taught, really. My first year I struggled. But, I watched the golfers out here and learned.
I think the caddie is really important to the game. The caddies who know the course are the ones who do the best job. You have a lot of guys coming from all over the country, that have never played here before. They need someone to tell them where to hit, especially on the greens and reading putts. That's where you can do your best job -- letting them know which way the ball's gonna break. You can tell them which club to use, based on the yardage and experience.
It's a great summer job. I've caddied for a couple of guys that have played on the senior tour. John Daly, who played on the PGA Tour, has played here. I've seen some interesting things -- a double eagle, which is a two on a par five. And I've seen an 85-foot putt.
(Pro hockey star) Mario Lemieux is probably the most famous person I've ever caddied for. He's good. He hits the ball pretty far. He's a little unorthodox with his swing, but he can crush it.
People don't think it takes a lot to caddie. But it does. You have to be able to remember four different numbers for four different guys. I think that is the hardest part. Or, making a mistake and having to look your golfer in the eye and have him know that you know that you've made a mistake. Even if you make a bad move or club him wrong, hopefully he'll still notice that you're out there running hard. Remembering the numbers and where each ball is hit -- mentally, it becomes really involved.
Physically, it takes a lot out of you, too. Yesterday I did 36 holes and I ran about 20 miles total. ... The other thing we do out here is double bag caddying. That's strapping two 40-pound bags, one on each shoulder, and walking the same seven miles. And that really wears on you.
I just try to do my best and work off the values that were instilled in me from my parents. And I try to keep Christ as the center of my life. And I think between those two, I've learned a lot. But, there's always room for improvement.