• Image about Sankaty Head Golf Club
Spending summers as a caddy on picturesque Nantucket Island is educational and rewarding.
Photography by Jensen Larson

Caddying in one of America’s most scenic summer locations also has plenty of other benefits for the caddies.

“Who wouldn’t want to live in Nantucket for the summer, especially with how much it costs you to summer here?” Donovan asks. “Plus, you get to play the course at night [after 5:30 p.m.], and you get one day off a week to go into town, hang out at the beach and hit up the local girls.”
But even well into the 21st century, the camp’s strict rules still hold strong with no alcohol, no drugs and no cars in the camp. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of pranks, a little rookie hazing and plenty of high jinks. “When it rains, there is absolutely? nothing to do,” Donovan admits.

But they also learn to work as a well-oiled team. As golfers head down the 11th fairway in the afternoon, a caddy stands watch in the fairway. Caddies who have been working and haven’t had a chance to eat lunch will dash inside the cabins, while another caddy will take his bag; after a quick meal, the original caddy will return by hole 13 — all in a convenient loop.

Despite the camp hanging on to its traditions, there have been some changes. College prep is now a big part of the summer circuit, with several computers on-site for college research and registration, as well as on-site SAT tutoring. And, some cellphone usage is allowed, along with Wi-Fi and a big-screen TV that’s available. But, every season, there is still the Caddy-Member tournament and an annual caddy banquet hosted by the members. It’s here that the summer awards and thousands of dollars in Sankaty Head Foundation college scholarships are handed out.

“My brother caddied there for three years, and I only did two. I wish I had done more. It’s really special,” Donovan says.

As you read this, the island is once again being flooded with part-time residents and guests, the Sankaty Lighthouse is still standing guard on the Atlantic, the newly rebuilt cabins have been opened and one of the last remaining resident caddy camps is operating yet again, having held at bay the advances of the new golfing century for one more year.