CADDIE FEATURE: Ray B

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Count yourself lucky if Ray Bursey — or Ray B as he is best known here at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort — has ever been on your bag. There may be no better caddie anywhere than the easygoing and friendly 73-year-old from Texarkana, Texas.

Ray B earned his first loop at age 11 and became a professional caddie in 1981, really by accident. His career includes loops on the PGA, LPGA, and developmental pro tours in addition to stops at famed country clubs such as Bel Air and Riviera.

Ray B arrived at Bandon Dunes in 2002, when he left the pro tours for what he initially thought would be a couple of weeks. It turned out Ray B would never leave Bandon Dunes again. The father of three and grandfather of five has spent most days during the last 15 years playing his trade on what he calls “God’s green acres.” Along the way, he has become one of Bandon Dunes most beloved figures.

So Ray, what was your first loop as a kid like?
I could only do it once a week on Saturday at Texarkana Country Club. … The first time I went out on the course I was maybe 11 years old. The bag was bigger than I was. It was almost dragging on the ground I was so small. But every Saturday I would go out and make that $1.25. That was a lot of money to me back then.

How did you get into caddying professionally, and what has kept you doing it all these years?
I was working for the FAA during the (1981 air-traffic controller) strike, and I was playing out at Rancho Park (Golf Course) there in LA. And one of the guys made the statement, “They need caddies tomorrow at Brentwood Country Club.” They were having a big tournament. As a kid, I made $1.25 to caddie, and I said, “Man, I’m going to go out there and chase that little white ball for a dollar-and-something?’” He told me that I would caddie for a foursome and make a good salary. So I did it. … When I finished, the caddie master said, “The guys were really impressed with you and I could use you on the weekends.”

I started going on Saturdays and Sundays, and (the caddie master) said, “I could use you full time.” I saw that I could make a living doing it and I have been doing it ever since. I love it.

Do you have a most memorable person you caddied for?
John Candy (the famed late comedy star) at Bel-Air and Riviera. He used to have a Monday game at Riviera and he was a member out at Bel-Air. It was always memorable with him because he was always joking. He was just a funny loop to have.

When did you first hear about Bandon Dunes and decide to caddie there?
I had heard from some guys about this place called “Bandon Dunes,” that it was great and it was links golf. I had never worked links golf. I had never been to Europe to caddie or anything like that. And so my pro (Brad Fabel, who was then on the Nationwide Tour) was going to be out three or four months with a hurt wrist. I thought I would go and get another bag (on tour), but then I decided to to go to Bandon and see what they were talking about.

I really had intended to come for only two weeks. And the first time I saw around the corner on No. 4 at Bandon Dunes and that ocean hit me, I was hooked. Matter of fact, at the time Matt Allen was the Assistant General Manager and in the group that day. He said, “you’re not going anywhere, now.” He was right. I haven’t been anywhere else since.

What is the toughest challenge caddying at Bandon?
Bandon is unlike country clubs or even the Tour. You are constantly changing personalities. Each individual has his own agenda, his own way of doing things, and his own personality. Some guys want you to be talkative. While other guys want you to be as mum as possible. You have to figure that out the first couple of holes. You learn that fast. And if you learn that, you’ll never have any problems.

You say you had never caddied at a links course before arriving at Bandon. Have you gained an appreciation for Mr. Keiser’s vision?
I thank him every day of my life now. It’s just great golf. It’s kind of corny to say, “It’s golf as it was meant to to be.” But it’s right. It’s just GREAT golf.

Six or seven years ago we had a caddie who left to go out on Tour. He’s doing well. And I tell the young guys that if you can caddie here you can caddie anywhere in the world, on any tour, for anybody. You can’t memorize these greens. You’ve got to look from both sides, front and back if you have the time, to really get the proper read. You can move the cup a half inch from one day to the next and it will change the whole complexion of the read.

Do you have a favorite course at Bandon Dunes?
Pacific. I think Pacific is one of the greatest courses that I’ve been on and No. 1 in the world. I’m very fortunate.

Do you have a favorite regular you caddie for?
Uncle Tony (Kielhofer) and the Ginella group (who host the annual Uncle Tony Invitational), that’s the highlight of my year. Those guys are just great. Just really great. Uncle Tony has been ill (he is battling cancer), but I’ve talked to him a couple times in the last two months, and he says he is going to make it this year. He says he’ll be here.

You’re known throughout the resort as an avid sports fan. Do you have a favorite?
I like it all. Football is my favorite, and I like whoever I bet on that week.

You were the honorary starter when The Punchbowl opened and designed the first 18 hole layout. What are your memories of that day?
That was a great experience, man. Before opening day, I spent like seven hours with Mr. (Tom) Doak. Just to hear him talk about the grasses at Bandon and the Trails and Pacific, it was just a wonderful experience.

What qualities make a great caddie?
First of all, I would say they might not start out loving it. But they have to acquire a love for it. Just loving the job, it shows. You can feel it yourself. If you love the job, you’re going to do the best you can possibly do.

Your thoughts on the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship (which offers full tuition and housing college scholarship for golf caddies)?
It’s a great thing. It gives kids work experience and we’ve had some good Evans Scholars each year come out here. They’ll never forget the experience.

What advice would you offer a junior caddie on his/her first loop at Bandon Dunes?
Be honest. A golfer will help teach you if you explain to him that you’re new. Golfers as a group always want to be helpful to another golfer or to a new caddie… they will teach you. Instead of trying to go in there not knowing and trying to guess, it’s best to say, “I’m new at this and I’m learning.” 

If you could give one piece of advice to a first timer who visits Bandon Dunes what would it be?
I tell most of the people, you give up distance for accuracy on these courses. The more you can stay out of trouble, the better you can score. If you think a driver will bring trouble into play, it’s better for you to hit 3-wood or 4-iron and keep it in play and putt for par. Bogey is sometimes good in all this wind. And you will enjoy it much better than spraying it all over the gorse and hitting out of these crazy bunkers.

UPDATE: We are saddened to share that one of our great ambassadors and caddies, Ray B, passed away on the evening of Tuesday, October 3rd. The outpouring love and support that has come in from Ray B's family, caddies, staff, guests, and community members has been amazing to witness.

The feature above of the legend himself will live on forever to memorialize his impact on our family. We hope those who knew him share their stories in the comments section below and those who didn't, discover a friend they had yet to meet. Rest easy Ray B. Your wisdom, positivity, and smile will be greatly missed around what you often called, "God's green acres." Enjoy your heavenly loop in the sky.

Evans Scholar, Makenna Crocker, shares her caddie experience!

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I am proud to say that I've had the wonderful opportunity of growing up on the southern Oregon coast. The towering trees, rugged coastlines, and salty ocean winds have been calming familiarities to me throughout my childhood. For this, I consider myself lucky. Growing up in the small town of North Bend, I've kept busy with countless dance classes, recitals, band concerts and more. There was never a dull moment, and living in such an inviting community made it even better. The coast of Oregon is undoubtedly a gorgeous area, and many travelers make a special note to visit. I had always known that I lived in a beautiful place, but my real understanding and appreciation for Oregon amplified when I became a caddie at Bandon Dunes. 

After hearing about the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship Program through my brother, (Matt Crocker, Evans Scholar 2007), I decided to give it a try the summer after my sophomore year in high school. Going into it, I had little knowledge of Bandon Dunes nor golf itself. However, each day I spent on the courses my awareness and appreciation for the sport grew tremendously. 

The courses are beautiful, Bandon is beautiful, the ocean is beautiful; the privilege and experience to work out here is just that, BEAUTIFUL.

When you are trekking along the rolling dunes of these golf courses, all of life's worries seem to fade. Your sole focus is on the game of golf and the breathtaking beauty that is the Southern Oregon Coast. On sunny days, the vibrancy of the green hills in contrast with the blue water and colorful wind surfers is bound to steal your focus. Then, on those gray, blustery days, the crashing waves and sheer power of the wind is bound to keep you in awe. Working at Bandon Dunes has given me the opportunity to see these beautiful sights every day, enabling me to enjoy and fall further in love with where I’ve grown up. 

Being a young female caddie, I have always been treated with kindness and respect; I can still say this after three years of working at Bandon Dunes. Golfers and other caddies are thoughtful, understanding and have made my experience all the better. 

My favorite aspect about caddying has been the ability to meet people that travel from all over the world to play golf at Bandon Dunes and hear their stories. I have met all kinds of people and made great connections that I would never have had the opportunity to make, had I not been a caddie. It’s wonderful to see people from all different backgrounds, coming together through their shared love of true links golf and the outdoors.

I have had several memorable stories throughout my time in Bandon. Among the top was with a twosome I had worked with earlier this summer. We were on the 18th hole at Bandon Trails, and the other player I was not caddying for was about to attempt a 40-yard putt. His putting hadn’t been very strong that day, so he jokingly bet me that if I gave him a read and he made it, he would give me an excellent tip. I laughed and read his putt, not expecting anything. He used the advice I gave him, and as the ball rolled confidently towards the hole the pressure mounted... to everyone's marvel, it dropped in the hole! As the ball dropped so did his jaw, as he was not expecting to have even been close, let alone to have to pay up! It was a fun group, and I will always remember that round.

Being a caddie in the Evans program has helped give me a lot more confidence connecting with people. I am more outgoing and driven. In my early days, I was shy and lacked a lot of the golf knowledge our more experienced caddies possess. Since then, I have gratefully accumulated the knowledge it takes to help golfers through each round. I’ve learned how to interact with all kinds of people, and in turn, have made several great connections throughout the country. Moreover, the biggest opportunity this program has given me is the chance to go to college.

This fall, I will be attending the University of Oregon on the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship with full tuition and housing support. I am grateful beyond words for this opportunity. I will be entering Oregon’s pre-Journalism program, in hopes to lean towards advertising and media. I will also be keeping myself busy with a second major in dance to help keep up with a love I've had my entire childhood. I am very excited to start this next chapter in my life, but will always remember the people and places that helped guide me along the way. I will be forever grateful to have grown up in such a beautiful area and to have had such a great opportunity caddying at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. 

 

Top 8 Caddie Questions

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The caddie experience at Bandon Dunes is extremely important to us and we are constantly looking for ways to improve our program. We've listened to your thoughts and sat down with caddie master, Vince Quattrocchi, to shine some light on frequently asked "caddie" questions from our guests.

Check out our top 8 questions below!

Golfer: “Do you think I can get to the green with a 5 iron?”
Caddy: “Eventually.”

1. Hey wait a second, I didn't get the caddie I requested?

There are a couple reasons why you may not get the caddie you requested. The caddie could be out of town or has decided to schedule themselves off during the dates of your trip. Caddies are independent contractors and determine the days they want to work. It is also possible they were scheduled on a job that overlaps with your arrival day. If your requested caddie is on another job, we will not pull them off a loop in order to fill a request. It is also possible that the caddie had multiple requests. When that happens the caddie has to choose which job to accept. Typically, they take the job that fits their schedule the best.  The good news is we have many great caddies here at Bandon Dunes and this is your opportunity to try another.

2. I had a great caddie that understood my game yesterday. How do I go about securing them for tomorrow?

Your caddie is scheduled with your group for the entire trip unless you request a new one. When you're a part of a big group it's a little different as it takes some serious logistics to make sure each group has the right caddies. As soon as you have your pairings assigned please notify us at 541.347.5875 so we can plan for the following day and communicate with the caddies.

3. I'd love to secure single bag caddies for our trip. Do I have to call earlier to make sure that is possible?

We have found over the years that a double bag caddie enriches your experience with your buddies. While you are more than welcome to request single bag caddies we cannot guarantee it, even though you requested it well in advance. Our caddies are very experienced carrying double bags and our main goal is to make sure we schedule every request we have on property before granting special requests for single bags.

Golfer: "I'd move heaven and earth to break 100 on this course."
Caddie: "Try heaven. You've already moved most of the earth."

4. You know my caddie is a Ducks fan and I went to Oregon State. Can I request a different caddie?

This is hypothetical but you get the point. Sometimes personalities clash and you want to know the best way to switch out your caddie. Check in with the golf shop or caddie supervisor on site for each course and we will do our best to find a proper replacement for you. In order to make sure we are improving our customer service please explain your reasoning so we can address the issue. We hope it's not only because they are a Ducks fan. 

5. Bummer, I left my wallet in the room and am not sure what to pay them? Can you help?

Yes, we can! Stop in the golf shop and ask for caddie cash. We can charge a requested amount to your room and give you the cash to give your caddie. All caddie fees are to be paid by the guest directly to the caddie. The caddie fee is $100 per bag, per round plus gratuity. If you feel that your caddie experience did not meet your expectations, please notify a caddie supervisor or one of our golf shop professionals.

6. My home course is not designed with the walking golfer in mind, hence the large cart bag. Will the caddie still carry my bag?

If you have a large cart bag, hard case, or a bag that doesn't have a strap we are going to suggest using a change out bag. Carrying golf bags is a way of life for our caddies. A tweaked back from an oversized golf bag can sideline a caddie for weeks. Check in with the caddie supervisor and they will help move anything you need over to the carry bag so our caddies can keep up. All of your extra equipment is left secured at the facility you changed it out at. Also, guest services will be there to help assist you once you have finished your round.

Golfer: “Please stop checking your watch all the time. It’s too much of a distraction.”
Caddy: “It’s not a watch – it’s a compass.”

7. I am not sure I want a caddie but if I change my mind on the arrival day can I still get one?

It is possible but we can't make any promises. It is best to reserve a caddie as soon as you know you would like one. We recommend you decide at least a week or so before your trip. If you decide to wait we will do our best to field the request but it is dependent upon the number of free agents in the caddie yard that particular day. 

8. I've never taken a caddie and not sure where I need to meet them?

If you requested a caddie in advance, one of our caddie supervisors will be at the first round course to answer any of your questions and introduce the assigned caddies. This typically happens 15-20 minutes prior to your tee time. If you have any follow up questions you can find a caddie supervisor at the course you are playing by calling the caddie shack.

We hope these helped dispel some questions about our caddie program but we are here to help if you have more. Feel free to leave us a note in the comments below, visit our caddie services page or give our caddie request line a call! Don't forget to #EnjoyTheWalk!

Request a Caddie

541.347.5909

 

Bandon caddies help win championships. Want proof? Bandon caddie, Gerard Percy, helped lead Liu and Mitsunaga to the USGA Inaugural Women's Four-Ball Championship last May.

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