Excerpt from the Fall 2022 issue of the GAP Magazine
By John T. Iswalt
Most of the operations that take place inside the gates of famed Pine Valley Golf Club are reserved for members and honored guests. Here’s a bit of information that needs no privacy.
Gage Wolfle, a Pine Valley caddie and J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship recipient since 2019, enjoys walking the club’s pristine fairways and caring for its members.
“Nothing is ever going to be given to you so you have to be willing to adapt,” Wolfle, 21, of Sewell, N.J. said. “What I have done every day out here is learn, try to keep learning and just be able to adapt to whatever I’m given.”
Before looping at the historic George Crump masterpiece, Wolfle worked outside operations at Pitman Golf Course. By chance, he was paired with Pine Valley’s Caddiemaster, Todd Baron, during a tournament there.
“We had a great time out there. He liked the way I carried myself, and offered me a job for the next season,” Wolfle, who graduated from Clearview Regional High School in 2019, said.
“You could tell that there was potential for [Gage] to be a good player. You could tell with his demeanor that he knew a great deal about the game,” Baron, 44, of Mullica Hill, N.J. said. “I asked him what he was doing and he said that he was going to school and working at Pitman during that time. At the end of that round, I got his info and asked his mom if it would be OK [for Gage to caddie at Pine Valley]. They were both for it.”
It was Baron who introduced Wolfle to the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust after a conversation about college finances.
“[Todd] asked me if I was looking to get any scholarships in caddying, and I said that I didn’t really know that was a thing,” Wolfle said. “He introduced [me to] the Platt Scholarship and when I did my own research, it seemed like it was very easy for me to apply and get my name in the door. It’s been great ever since.”
“[Gage] embodies everything that the Platt looks to achieve: good character, good golf knowledge, good caddies, and the determination to get better at his game,” Baron, who also serves as a J. Wood Platt Trustee, added.
After learning more about the scholarship, Wolfle began to notice J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust donor tags on some of the players’ bags. His understanding of the support that these donors provide made Wolfle want to impart an even greater service to them.
“It definitely has made me want to become a better caddie out here just because I know that a lot of these people are putting money toward kids going to school,” Wolfle said. “If I’m doing my best job out here I think it just looks good on me as a person and as a caddie.”
Wolfle studies finance at St. John’s University, where he is a senior. While he has not yet had an opportunity to complete an internship, Wolfle is optimistic about his future given his network with Pine Valley’s members and his school’s proximity to New York City.
“Being at St. John’s and in New York is a good spot to be for finance. I definitely have learned a lot being there, I am getting a bit more in depth with [finance] now,” he said. “If you’re looking to go to school, [the scholarship] definitely helps remove some stress off your shoulders. They offer you programs to go and meet more people and meet other caddies. It’s just all around perfect.”
Wolfle is also a member of the St. John’s golf team. As a junior, he competed in 12 events. Wolfle’s best performance occurred in the Wildcat Invitational, where he finished eighth.
“I stuck with [St. John’s] because I met the team, I visited the school and I knew it was a good spot to be just being close to the city and close to Long Island golf. It’s worked out pretty well,” Wolfle said.
Before golf and caddying came into Wolfle’s life, wrestling, baseball and football occupied his time. A major health complication caused his plans to change at the age of 12.
“I had a bone cyst in my femur [that] I had three surgeries on [when I was] in seventh grade,” Wolfle said. “That basically took me out of all the contact sports that I was playing. I started recovering from those surgeries in the ways I had to, which was staying off that leg and just taking the medicine that I had to take [to get better].”
After a year and a half of recovery, and realizing that he would no longer be able to compete in sports that involved running, Wolfle decided to pick up golf. It was a decision largely influenced by his brother, Shea, who at the time played as a freshman on Clearview Regional’s golf team. Seeing his brother’s progression and success in the game motivated Gage to push himself to improve his own golf skills. By the end of his high school career, he had five individual tournament victories.
Golf is Wolfe’s past, present and future.
“[Turning professional is] definitely a dream of mine,” he said. “I’ve always had this passion with any sport I’ve played, but golf especially. It’s a game I’m going to play forever, so I definitely want to keep going at it.”
While exclusivity is a value associated with Pine Valley, the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust continues to be granted admission past the club’s gates to continue helping college students and caddies just like Wolfle.
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.