Cantigny Caddie Program
|Meet Mike Greene
Learn more about Cantigny's commitment to youth in our community
Enjoy the walk without the lifting. Cantigny golf is proud to offer guests the services of our exceptional caddie program. All caddies are Cantigny trained, 14 to 21 years of age and still in school.
Make your guests feel extra special - treat them to one of several caddie services:
- Individual Caddie - carry clubs, locate golf ball, obtain yardages, and help enhance your golf experience
- VIP Foursomes - special treatment for special guests
- Forecaddies - a forecaddie for each foursome to track errant golf balls and help pace of play
- Spot Caddie - a spot caddie at more challenging points on the course to minimize bottlenecks
Book a Caddie
Public golf facilities with caddie programs are a rarity, and ours truly sets Cantigny Golf apart. With over 130 caddies, Cantigny is proud to offer guests the services of our exceptional caddie program, considered to be one of the finest in the country. All caddies are Cantigny trained, 14 to 21 years of age and still in school. We are especially proud that so far twelve Cantigny caddies have earned Evans Scholarships.
- Mike Tiburtini—Purdue
- Greg Rawls—Marquette
- Laura Rawls—Marquette
- Meghan Rawls—Marquette
- Nick LaBianco—Purdue
- Elliot LaBianco—Northwestern
- Dan Westergaard—Indiana
- Tyler Ester—Purdue
- Aiden Hernandez-Marquette
- Michael Loffredo-Miami University
- Carter Ester-Indiana
- Imad Longi-Northwestern
At Cantigny Golf, 100% of the caddie fee goes directly to the caddie. Cantigny receives no monetary compensation whatsoever for our caddie services. Rather, we provide this service as a demonstration of our commitment to area youth by offering meaningful employment opportunities through our growing caddie program. By using a caddie, you help our area youth acquire more than just spending money. The experiences they have on the golf course can teach business and social skills that will serve them well as college students, working professionals and members of society.
If you haven’t already, please watch our video featuring Mike Greene, Cantigny’s Outdoor Operations Manager and Caddie Master. (Click here for video)
Caddie candidates are requested to stop by the Cantigny Golf Shop in person to pick up a caddie application. Returning caddies have priority in the caddie selection process. Knowledge of golf in general and knowledge of Cantigny Golf in particular is a definite asset.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How old to you have to be to caddie? 13 years old
- When should I apply to be a caddie? Fall of prior golf season (selections are made in February)
- How do I apply to be a caddie? Caddie candidates are requested to stop by the Cantigny Golf Shop in person to pick up a caddie application. Returning caddies have priority in the caddie selection process. Knowledge of golf in general, and knowledge of Cantigny Golf in particular is a definite asset.
Caddies in the News
Ghanaian-American girl finds caddying is path to American dream; Her mother stuck in Ghana, Bolingbrook girl prospers as a caddy
September 5, 2009
By Dan Simmons, Chicago Tribune
In the spring, as Mike Greene trained a new crop of caddies he feared a slow summer ahead for them.
"I was expecting the worst," said the caddy superintendent at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton. Who, in these dire times, would fork over $90 for a walk around the links and pay an additional $50 for a kid to schlep their clubs?
Among the sea of mostly white boys learning the ropes, he noticed Leanette Pokuwaah, a Ghanaian-American girl with an unlikely caddying background. Her outlook for a big summer didn't seem so good either.
"I wasn't sure she was going to make it," Greene said. "She was very nervous and didn't know very much about golf."
That was then. Now, as the summer sun sets and the course's 160 caddies settle back into school, Greene is marveling at reversals of fortune on both fronts.
His program turned into a rare economic success story this summer, with caddy rounds up 17 percent over last year despite a dip in total rounds played.
"That's a big surprise," he said. "To be where we are is huge."
Greene said the caddies were in the right place at a bad economic time. People were more likely to opt out of vacations this summer and spend a bit on pastimes at home, such as golf. The public course absorbed a steady trickle of former members of expensive private clubs used to having caddies, he said. Nationally, rounds at private courses dipped about 1 percent from last year, while play at public courses was up by about the same, according to Golf Datatech figures.
And the girl who wasn't supposed to make it? She's going back to Bolingbrook High School about a thousand dollars richer from a summer that saw her caddy 31 rounds and develop into one of the club's best rookies.
"She mastered the mechanics of what we do, and now she's learning the game, learning the nuances of the golf course," Greene said. "Very few get that in the first year."
At first, her main problem came in one of caddying's basic tasks: measuring distance from a golfer's ball to the hole.
"Calculating yardage in my head is impossible!" she said, arms outstretched in exasperation. "I'm like, I can't think that fast!"
Golfer Mark Skurla, one of her first clients, said that she joked about the "math exam" on the links, part of what he described as a disarming candor that's unusual for a "red bib," or rookie.
"She asked me what I do for a living, which I found very mature," he said. "Most red bibs are very cowering and shy."
With Greene's help, she overcame her yardage struggles and, day-by-day, mastered other job skills.
Which shouldn't be surprising, given other distances the 16-year-old has traveled.
Such as the distance from first picking up a club a year and a half ago to becoming so addicted she joined her high school golf team and has recently been known to practice chip shots in her bedroom. "I knew I must be passionate," she said, "otherwise I wouldn't risk breaking windows."
Or the distance from the wide-open greenery of Cantigny to the seaside metropolis of Accra, Ghana's capital. Her mother, Ewarama, has been stuck in the West African nation since 2001, unable to get a visa back into the United States.
The visa denial came when Pokuwaah was 8 years old. The family was returning stateside from a visit to Ghana, her parents' homeland where most of their relatives still live.
Since, she and her older brother have lived a nomadic life -- three years back with their mother in Ghana, followed by a two-year stint with relatives in Indiana. Since 2006, they've lived in Bolingbrook with their father, Kwaku, a toll-booth operator along Interstate Highway 355.
"I haven't seen my mom in five years," Pokuwaah said. "It's devastating."
She's grown used to waiting -- for her mother's visa appeals that kept getting denied, for twice-weekly phone conversations with her.
The patience comes in handy on the links. Her only ride to and from the course came with a friend's mom who works nearby. It meant getting to the course at 6:30 a.m. every day and getting picked up at 6 p.m. If her loop was in the afternoon, she waited around all morning, alternating French and Spanish lessons with hitting balls on the driving range.
"People are like, 'Leanette, you're crazy!'" she said, smiling, "and I'm like, 'I know!'"
In Ghana, she's seen children eating dirt. By comparison, waiting around the course didn't seem too bad.
"It's not like I'm going to a crappy office job," she said. "It's so beautiful to see the sun rise and the green grass. I love waking up to that."
Greene said golfers noticed her obvious enthusiasm for their game and tendency to speak with very active arms.
"She'll wince, she'll pump her fist -- she really gets into it out there," he said. "That's how it's supposed to work."
Pokuwaah started caddying at the suggestion of her pastor, who promised it would help her better understand the game of golf and improve her spirituality. It has done both things, she said. Controlling her emotions on the course, she said, "is a good way to express my love of God."
Golf could also offer -- through an Evans Scholarship -- an opportunity at a college education, which she hopes to use toward a career with Doctors Without Borders, the Swiss organization that sends doctors to underserved parts of the world.
Although Greene plans to recommend her for the Evans Scholarship, he noted it will require more work and dedication on her part. The scholarships are coveted -- just six caddies from Cantigny have gotten one since the club's caddy program began in 1998. (Cantigny is part of McCormick Foundation, formerly known as McCormick Tribune Foundation, a non-profit entity independent from Tribune Co.)
"I think she is a real bona fide candidate," Greene said. "She's exactly the kind of person the Evans Foundation was set up to help out."