Keeping a Good Thing Going

June 30, 2021 | 2 min.
ByJack Mendesh

Madden’s has a rich caddie tradition across their four courses since the first course, Pine Beach East, opened in 1926. Back then, due to the Great Depression, caddies would only make 25¢ per round! For 25¢ in 1930, you could get a haircut or an ice-cream cone, a cup of coffee, a doughnut, a bottle of Coke and a Hershey bar. For 30 years, from the late 1920s to the 1950s, the staff of Pine Beach East would drive down a dirt road in a pickup truck owned by the resort into Brainerd to pick up kids to caddie for the day. Once all of the kids had caddied, they would drive them back into Brainerd in the same pickup truck.
Madden’s on Gull Lake features four different courses to enjoy including: The Classic at Madden’s, Pine Beach East, Pine Beach West, and the Social 9. The Classic at Madden’s is their championship course and consistently one of the best courses in the state, Pine Beach East and West are perfect for everyday golfers to enjoy while the Social 9 is a great course to play with family and friends of all skill levels. They have a golf course for every level of golfer.
Between the late 1950s and 1990, there was little caddie activity between the four courses. That all changed once they opened The Classic at Madden’s in 1997. With this being a championship course, Madden’s wanted to provide a championship experience. The program kicked off with caddies aged 13-16 years old and ran for a total of 3 years with a fire in 2000 in the clubhouse putting an end to the momentum they had created.
In 2013, Glenn Hagberg, Director of Golf, was asked what one thing he could add to his department to add value to the experience, and he answered caddies. From that moment on, the caddie program has been a staple at The Classic. When asked why he brought caddies back, he said, “the course is meant to be walked and caddies add to the experience of walking The Classic.” Each year the caddie program has grown and gained momentum. The first four years, there were 25 adult caddies, and it was an optional service. Starting in 2017, through positive feedback, caddies are required before 10am in June, July, and August.
Madden’s would like to become a pipeline for future Evans Scholar candidates. The Evans Scholarship Foundation provides full scholarships to golf caddies who have financial need and strong academic and leadership records.
Adding a caddie program to Madden’s has been a differentiation from other courses in the area. Glenn Hagberg would recommend other destination golf courses and resort courses to start caddie programs saying, “It adds to the experience of playing the golf course and it provides more jobs to the community. Some of our caddies have made connections with players that have led to jobs and networking opportunities.”

Classic Caddie Training
Currently, The Classic has 40 caddies, 35 adult and 5 youth caddies. The caddies go through a rigorous training program to ensure they provide the best experience to the golfers as possible. They start with watching a Western Golf Association training video, followed by going through a caddie manual, and then the caddies are brought onto the property to learn the course. Following that, each caddie must pass a 150-question test that asks questions ranging from the history of Madden’s to the best steakhouse in Minneapolis and how far it is from the airport. Finally, they go through on-course training and must receive a passing grade in order to start caddying. Glenn Hagberg mentioned, “Going through this type of training ensures that we receive caddies that are serious about the job and will provide the best experience possible to any golfer that may play. We have a number of guests that come from out of state, so we want to ensure that every golfer receives a high level of service.”

Jack Mendesh

Jack Mendesh is the MGA’s caddie development and communications manager. He grew up caddying and playing golf in the Twin Cities and likes to give back to the game that has afforded so many enriching experiences in his life.

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