Women have played a really important part in the history of Pinehurst. From Annie Oakley’s shooting lessons, to champions including Babe Zaharias and Peggy Kirk Bell. This episode, we are talking with someone who is paving her own path as a woman, and making history at Pinehurst.
The following excerpt has been edited for space. Check out the full interview here.
Alyson Johnson: Tell us a little bit about your background in golf- when you started and how you got into caddying.
Rose Thurman: I actually used to work in the hotel industry. My degree is concentrated in Hotel Management. I checked in the players in the PGA Tour in 2017 and in 2018- that’s the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio- it’s so busy for those players that some of them, in passing, might kind of make you feel like you’re less than sometimes; but sometimes they’re really nice. The most wonderful person I ever met on the PGA Tour was in 2018, Peter Malnati, him and his wife were so kind; they asked me, “Hey, are you interested in golf? Have you ever been out there?” I said, “No, golf is rather boring.” I said this to the man who dedicated his career to this sport- which is kind of funny in hindsight, now that i’m in love with the sport. But he’s like, “Well, you ought to go out there and just check what it’s all about.” I went out to the Valero Texas Open for the last day in 2018, fell in love with it.
With my ADHD, I love sports, but sitting in the stands gets me restless; and so I liked that part of golf (caddying). I went to the driving range every day for three months, after that was my first introduction to golf- didn’t know a lick about it before that. Anything that I hadn’t learned in a book or a video prior to coming here, I learned on that course. Now, I would say I’m a fantastic green reader, I’m a fantastic line giver, and encourager on the golf course for the mental game.
Adam Grubb: Let me make sure I have this timeline right- two, three years ago you thought golf was boring, and now you are caddying at one of the most prestigious courses in all of our lands, a course where most people would pay a lot of money to play. That’s quite a quick story, but it’s so great to hear how quickly you fell in love with the game. How quickly have you fallen in love with the job and the effort of caddying?
Rose Thurman: What’s funny is my first job that I applied for at Pinehurst was not as a caddie, because I work for Caddiemaster- we take care of Pebble Beach, Whistling Straits, Kiawah, Augusta National, and Pinehurst- I was trying to apply at Pinehurst for bag drop and I hadn’t gotten any phone calls back. I was thinking that I was gonna learn something about golf from bag drop, which I realized in hindsight, that’s not the case. Because I hadn’t gotten that phone call back quite as quickly as I wanted, I went and applied for Caddiemaster- which handles the caddies at Pinehurst. From there I learned everything- I’m so grateful because not only did I learn so much in the training process, because Caddiemaster is one of the top in their training and their standards and the customer service side, then I learned everything on the course. And I’m not a gambler but I’ve learned a lot about that as well.
Alyson Johnson: What is the training to become a caddy? If somebody wants to start caddying, what is the process?
Rose Thurman: I really had to have that passion to be (a caddie). I started September 19th of 2019, and my love for golf started April of 2018. So in a year and a half, I was reading everything I could, watching videos, kind of learning things that are only textbook. You’ll learn so much more on the course. But that got me through enough for them to say, “Okay, this is a candidate that we will consider.” From there, they know that they can teach you other things. They can’t teach you how to be kind, or how to take care of somebody- like their family- and personalize their experience and I had that background already. That’s such an important part about being a caddie. So if you want to be a caddie, you should really have a basis in taking care of people.
Adam Grubb: You’re one of the only women caddies at Pinehurst, but that doesn’t define you as a caddie. You’re defined by how you are relatively new into the sport, I can assume that you have had some barriers to overcome. Can you talk a little bit about how you’ve handled and dealt with some of the eye rolls, concerns, confusion, all of that?
Rose Thurman: I’m a very friendly person, so thankfully, I’ve only ever had two issues on the golf course in the year and a half that I’ve been at Pinehurst. In the beginning when I was still learning about reading putts and was only getting like 50% of my putts right, I was so nervous. Being nervous might make that person doubt your ability right off the bat, so as I got better, I got more confident. Now, it’s never an issue where somebody’s like, “you’re going to carry my bag?” The first look I’ll always get is, “you gonna be okay with my bag?” and I prove pretty quickly that, that’s not a concern at all; as long as they’re okay with me carrying the bag. Sometimes, somebody might feel bad, and at first, they don’t really realize that you’re capable of doing what you’re about to do. So sometimes you have to reassure them. The confidence by itself reassures the player. That’s really important for all caddies.
Key takeaway: The “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality can do wonders for one’s self confidence.
Listen here to hear Rose talk more about the duties of being a caddie, appropriate tipping, and how she navigates being the only woman caddie at Pinehurst.