Excerpt from the Spring 2022 issue of the GAP Magazine
By Joe Juliano
Abby McNamee wanted to find a summer job somewhere before leaving her home in West Chester, Pa. and enrolling at Duquesne University. A chat with an Academy of Notre Dame classmate led McNamee to take on an occupation that she never thought of previously.
She became a caddie at Llanerch Country Club.
“[My classmate Jackie Lanzalotto’s] family are members at Llanerch and she was a caddie,” McNamee, 21, said. “She was telling me about her job. I was looking for a summer job, and I had never even really considered this as a path. I never really played golf before. So I was like, ‘OK, I’ll just try it out.’ I went with her and it went really well.”
Coming from what she called “definitely not a golf family,” McNamee joined the caddie ranks in 2018. She acclimated herself to her new job with the help of Llanerch Caddiemaster Chris Wright and many of the club’s veteran caddies. She learned about the sport and the business quickly.
Her new line of work offered her a number of benefits – being outside all day, meeting new caddies from other schools, and networking with members willing to help her as she prepares for a career in forensic science. But arguably the best advantage was receiving an award from the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust.
The grant has helped McNamee, who carried a 3.65 grade-point average, into her last semester at Duquesne, where she also plays on the lacrosse team. She will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in biology and remain on course for a master’s degree in forensic science next year.
“At its core, it’s helped me with my education,” McNamee said of the Platt Scholarship. “It’s not easy. I go to a private university that’s pretty expensive. I have multiple scholarships and this one on top of that has been even more helpful, especially with getting my master’s in my fifth year because I have that extra year. The whole experience has been very positive.”
Added Wright, 45, of Havertown, Pa., who is also Llanerch’s Director of Outside Operations, “She has been a go-getter from her first day. She was always one of the first ones here [in the morning] and enthusiastic to learn. She knew nothing about golf [at the beginning], but learned what she could as fast as she could. She was easily promoted within a year, which is uncommon. She has a ton of energy on the course and has been a big asset to the caddie program.”
McNamee said she would like to see more girls who become caddies get involved with Platt.
“I don’t know how many J. Wood Platt females there have been, but I wouldn’t imagine there weren’t that many just knowing how many female caddies there are in general. So hopefully that just brings more awareness to it because I didn’t really know that this was a career option for me until I heard about it through a friend.” There are six females currently in the program.
Of the Llanerch members she has met through her job, McNamee said “a lot of them had really great connections for me with networking.”
“They were open with hearing about my school and what I’m involved in and any little connection they could think of,” she said. “They’ve all been really helpful, like ‘Let me give you this name’ or ‘Email this person.’ So that’s been really awesome, too, something I really didn’t expect to get out of it.”
“She is very driven. She is a hustler,” said Nick Kusturiss, 65, of Newtown Square, Pa., a 28-year member of Llanerch. “She’s done well from the beginning. There are young men [in the caddie yard] who couldn’t keep up with her. She is very strong.”
McNamee committed to Duquesne when she was a sophomore in high school to play lacrosse, but she also was attracted by the university’s accelerated forensic science program.
“I honestly have always loved crime shows like ‘Forensic Files’ and all that stuff,” she said. “And I thought this could be interesting. It’s really fun because there’s always something different, like with new cases you do a bunch of different things in biology and chemistry and physics, so you kind of get to do a little bit of everything.”
She said being a caddie has helped her learn about golf, “more than I probably ever would have learned because it’s not something that my family is too involved in.” Her best memory of her time on the course came in a member-guest.
“It was the first time I was in this tournament, and the pair I was caddying for actually made it to the finals, which was really awesome,” she said. “We were there playing all day from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. They were so excited because they had never made it to the finals before. So that was probably one of the most fun days there I’ve had.”
She said she intends to return to Llanerch to caddie this summer, but she’s also exploring internship opportunities, possibly with a private laboratory, that may reduce her workload on the course.
Read the magazine article here!
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 288 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust
The J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust was created in 1958 by the Golf Association of Philadelphia through the efforts of then President Walter A. Schmidt; Leo Fraser, President of the local section of Professional Golfers Association of America; and Albert Keeping, Golf Professional at Gulph Mills Golf Club. It was named in honor of Philadelphia’s premier golfer of the era, J. Wood Platt. Not only was Mr. Platt an accomplished player, but he was also the Trust’s co-founder and first contributor. To date, more than 3,800 young men and women have received $23 million in aid from the Trust.