Cad­die to the stars

OLIVER HOROVITZ

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY SI­MON ROUND

TEN YEARS ago, Amer­i­can teenager Oliver Horovitz de­cided to spend his gap year study­ing at the Univer­sity of St An­drews be­fore start­ing his de­gree course at Har­vard. A mas­sive golf fan, he had such a good time that he de­cided to stay on for the sum­mer and try his hand as a trainee cad­die on the town’s fa­mous cour­ses. He has come back ev­ery year since and his mem­oir about the ex­pe­ri­ence, An Amer­i­can Cad­die in St An­drews, made the New York Times best­seller lists and he has been nom­i­nated in the gen­eral sports writ­ing cat­e­gory of the Bri­tish Sports Book Awards.

Re­turn­ing for an­other sum­mer of cad­dy­ing, Horovitz says the book has in­creased his recog­ni­tion among play­ers. “The book came out in the US in 2013 and since then it has been dif­fer­ent for me at St An­drews. I’ll be out on the Old Course and there are Amer­i­can golfers who have read the book who run over to say ‘hi’. It’s weird be­cause St An­drews has al­ways been the place I where I could get away from it all. But now I have to be care­ful be­cause I don’t want to be seen as the big shot.”

Af­ter a decade of haul­ing golf bags, he is ac­cepted in the place he calls the cad­die shack — home to a group of hard-bit­ten Scot­tish cad­dies, many of whom have worked on the main tour. One has cad­died for Tiger Woods and they all know ev­ery un­du­la­tion of the Old Course.

But go­ing back 10 years, to say that Horovitz found the at­mos­phere in­tim­i­dat­ing in his first weeks would be an un­der­state­ment. “I was Amer­i­can, I was a stu­dent and I was a trainee cad­die so pretty quickly I re­alised that I was the scum of the world. They hated me. They were like, you’ve been here 10 sec­onds, who the hell are you?

“I was be­ing screamed at on a daily ba­sis for mak­ing all the cad­die mis­takes I didn’t even know ex­isted. You’re not meant to cor­rect the older cad­dies, you’re not meant to be loud, you’re not meant to hold forth over the rest of the group. I was do­ing all of those things.”

But, slowly, his hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion to learn ev­ery nook and cranny of the course won over his col­leagues — and a very scary cad­die mas­ter called Rick. And Horovitz came to ap­pre­ci­ate that there might just be a com­ing-of-age story to be told. “The funny thing is that ev­ery­one has these life ex­pe­ri­ences — your first suc­cess with girls, the first time you stood up to a bully, the boss who scared the hell out of you. Yet for me all these dra­mas were played out at St An­drews.”

His re­la­tion­ship with his English un­cle Ken — a town coun­cil­lor who lived in St An­drews for years — also plays a big part in the book. In­deed, it is fair to say that Horovitz has an in­ter­est­ing fam­ily his­tory. His fa­ther, Is­rael, is an ac­claimed play­wright. His mother, Gil­lian, was a Bri­tish-born marathon run­ner who com­peted for Eng­land in the 1998 Com­mon­wealth Games, fin­ish­ing fourth. And his half-brother is Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz of the Beastie Boys.

But he did not feel pres­sure to suc­ceed. On the con­trary, the fam­ily phi­los­o­phy seemed to be to go off and try new things. “You can go and do what you want. I come from a very hard work­ing fam­ily who have done some cool stuff.”

He soon be­came known as the golfer in the fam­ily, an in­ter­est he in­her­ited not from his ath­letic mother but from his lit­er­ary fa­ther. “My fa­ther cad­died in a very Waspish area when he was grow­ing up. It was a big course where no Jews were al­lowed. Yet all the cad­dies were Jewish and were given Chris­tian saint names. So in­stead of Bernie or Is­rael, you be­came Ed­ward or Paul.”

Be­ing Jewish has never been a prob­lem for him at St An­drews. There is a cad­die from Zim­babwe who has spent time on a kib­butz who wishes him Shabbat Shalom ev­ery Fri­day and he once re­ceived a text from an­other cad­die while out on the course ask­ing him if he knew “what mossle­tov means in Jewish”. Horovitz fol­lowed in his fa­ther’s foot­steps and started cad­dy­ing on his lo­cal course to make some money. He also be­came a good enough player to be re­cruited to play on the Har­vard team but his year at St An­drews made him re­alise that he was not go­ing to be a pro­fes­sional. “I played on the St An­drews team. There was no pro­fes­sional su­per­vi­sion, just 25 play­ers who were all pretty much good enough to turn pro. The stan­dard was in­cred­i­ble — they would de­stroy any Amer­i­can golf team so for me it was a test. At the end of it, I had had an amaz­ing time but I knew I was not go­ing to make it as a pro.”

How­ever, be­ing out on the course as a cad­die is an ex­cel­lent con­so­la­tion prize. “In the shack, what I found out was that most of the guys had dreamed of be­ing pro golfers but this was the next best thing. They are liv­ing the life of their dreams, they are cad­dyng in big tour­na­ments and they have made golf their life. That is so cool.”

‘I WAS SCREAMED AT ON A DAILY BA­SIS’

Dur­ing the course of his ca­reer, Horovitz has car­ried bags for some big names, in­clud­ing his hero, Larry David, plus Michael Dou­glas, Andy Gar­cia, Ian Botham, Rory McIl­roy and singer Huey Lewis, for whom he now cad­dies ev­ery year in the pro-am Dun­hill Cup.

Hav­ing gained so much ex­pe­ri­ence, he knows in­stinc­tively what kind of round he is in for. Cad­dy­ing for a good golfer means there will be con­sid­er­ably less walk­ing and hunt­ing for balls, but es­sen­tially he likes a golfer who wants to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence. “If you’re a nice guy and ex­cited to be at St An­drews, that’s all we want. It doesn’t re­ally mat­ter how you play. The coolest thing about the job is that the men and women we cad­die for are ba­si­cally hav­ing the best four hours of their lives. These are people who have dreamed about get­ting to St An­drews. I have had 70-year-old men break down and start cry­ing on the sec­ond hole.”

But the sight of a huge bag makes him groan. “There’s a say­ing in the shack, the big­ger the gear no idea. I’ve never met any­one I liked who had head cov­ers on their irons.”

Horovitz also works as a film pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant in the US. But he in­tends to con­tinue spend­ing his sum­mers car­ry­ing bags for £45-a-round plus tips. “You might be a world leader or the pres­i­dent of IBM but for four hours out there on the Old Course, the cad­die is in charge.” ‘An Amer­i­can Cad­die in St An­drews’ is pub­lished by El­liot & Thomp­son, £8.99

On course with star play­ers: Oliver Horovitz ( front) and a fel­low cad­die with Andy Gar­cia, Michael Dou­glas, Bon Jovi drum­mer Tico Tor­res and Huey Lewis at St An­drews

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