Kansas City Country Club is a posh place in the middle of the posh mansions of Mission Hills, Kansas. You remove your hat in the clubhouse, don’t disturb anyone by making calls on your cell phone and if you don’t have socks that come up at least to mid-calf they’ll kindly sell you some in the pro shop.
Tom Watson’s name and/or likeness adorns very nearly every wall inside the clubhouse (and they graciously include one-time PGA Tour winner and fellow KCCC member Matt Gogel in a few places as well). So proper decorum is expected.
Amidst all the customs and tradition you’d expect to find at KCCC, there also are “Stalker Caddies.”
Club Car actually calls them Tempo Walk hands-free caddies, but the folks in Kansas City call them stalkers. And they have names for all 10 of them corresponding to legendary caddies living, dead and fictional – Bones, Fluff, Fanny, Angelo, Stevie, Tip, Alfie, Big Mitch, Bruce and Noonan.
I chose Bones, having played with and written about the real Jim “Bones” Mackay. My college friend and host, Adam Sachs, grabbed Fanny (Sunesson). With a brief tutorial and a small transmitter with an on/off switch attached to our belts, we were off with our stalkers in close pursuit.
And it was awesome. With the exception of a veteran looper named Amp at Augusta National in 1999, it was the best caddie experience I’ve ever had. It checks off all the basic caddie rules – show up, keep up and shut up – without any judgment of your swing.
In short, it was perfect. Bones carried my overstuffed bag, drink cups, cooler of water, divot sand bottle and scorecard without complaint. Its display screen offered up GPS yardage to the front, center and back of every green. It socially distanced about 6 feet behind you, unless you stopped it. Helpful user note: It will follow you across greens, tees or into creeks and bunkers if you forget to flip the switch on your belt to park it.
No, it can’t coach you out of the nervous shanks or tell you precisely where to land your bump-and-run pitch to get you an eagle on No. 2 at Augusta like Amp did, but you don’t have to tip it either.
All the stalker caddie does is allow you to play the course the way it’s meant to be played – walking – without the added burden of slinging all your clubs over your shoulder or pushing a trolley that you inevitably will spill over several times a round. (Or is that just me?)
If this is the future, count me in.