Something always stood out to Geoff Rice when he attended the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust’s annual Caddie Brunch.
Not the caddie workshop portion of the event, though it did afford a chance to connect with professionals in the workplace firsthand. Not the exquisite buffet, though it did appease the appetite of a perpetually hungry young man.
“I always remember the [Francis C. Poore] Caddie of the Year giving a speech. It was always some super accomplished caddie who had a great job lined up,” Rice, 22, of Malvern, Pa., said. “I just always thought, ‘Wow. That kid’s got it going for him.’ I never really considered myself in the same league as those winners. And four years later, I guess I did do a lot for myself and to prove myself.”
Rice, a Waynesborough Country Club caddie since 2010, delivered his own speech – a heartfelt “two-minute drill” – after accepting the 2019 honor during the Caddie Brunch Dec. 21 at Llanerch Country Club. The Francis C. Poore Caddie of the Year is selected based on three factors: academic excellence, a high level of community involvement and a long and distinguished record of service as a caddie.
“I would need five notebooks to keep on going about Geoff. He truly was just someone who understood member service, understood what Platt is and what it will be for him down the road,” Ryan Plower, Waynesborough’s caddiemaster of four years, said. “Geoff was always all-in, all of the time for me and our members. He would run through a wall for us here. We would do the same for him.”
Rice’s timeline at Waynesborough reads like a true coming-of-age story. Kid frequently passes the golf course and marvels at its beauty. Curiosity leads to a job opportunity at age 12. Teenage years yield personal and professional growth.
“Caddying has made me feel more comfortable talking with adults. Growing up, I saw that difference,” Rice, a senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, said. “I was 15 years old and I could hold a conversation with an adult pretty well. My friends who maybe worked a restaurant job in the kitchen and didn’t have any interactions kind of struggled with those things. As I got older, I was able to form good relationships with some of the members and to use them as mentors.”
Among that Waynesborough counsel is Jim Wright, a member of 16 years. Rice caddied for Wright and his brother Michael in the Waynesborough Invitational three of the last four years. A bond forged.
“I always like taking caddies, and Geoff has been one of my all-time favorites. He’s prompt, courteous and respectful,” Jim, 56, of Berwyn, Pa., said. “He’s always a step ahead of me, but that’s not hard given the quality of my golf game. Geoff does all of the work, but occasionally he’ll come to me for advice on job situations and things like that. He’s just been someone who I have been very happy to provide whatever advice and guidance I can outside of golf because he’s been very helpful providing me guidance on the golf course.”
“Jim Wright has helped me a lot. He’s been another voice of reason and opinion to go to,” Rice added. “It’s good to have another opinion besides your dad and a few professors.”
Not to say the elder Rice doesn’t offer sound advice. After all, Kevin Rice plays golf and thereby introduced his son to the sport. Geoff competed on the golf team at Great Valley High School, finishing as runner-up in the 2015 PIAA Individual State Championship. Personal rounds enhanced his development as a caddie.
“There are a lot of things you can do really well if you don’t have playing experience, but I think at the end of the day, what sets people apart is their ability to read greens, their ability to properly judge uphill and downhill and how much wind is going to impact a shot,” Rice, a finance major, said. “Everyone can do the basics. That’s pretty much implied. The separator is golf knowledge and golf experience.”
Through hard work, dedication and gratitude, Rice separated from the Waynesborough caddie yard – so much so that his role expanded to outside services in 2015.
“He was someone who I felt was being underutilized. He would fill in and run the tee sheet when I wasn’t there,” Plower, 34, of Lafayette Hill, Pa., said. “I could rely on Geoff and know that everything was going to be fine.”
In turn, Rice, a Platt Scholar of four years, relied on the Trust throughout his college education.
“It’s been huge for me personally because it’s helped me manage my student loans. My parents would echo that even more and say it’s helped them a ton in sending me to college,” Rice said. “Knowing I’ve been able to help my family and my parents a lot financially is the biggest thing that stands out. Not many 22-year-old kids can say that.”
“If Geoff saw a member with a J. Wood Platt bag tag, he always said, ‘Thank you for your contributions.’ He’s proud of being a Platt Scholar,” Plower added.
Finance, coincidentally, became a Rice focus inside the classroom. During his sophomore year at the UNC Wilmington, he took a required finance class and subsequently switched majors. Upon graduation, Rice will relocate to Charlotte, N.C. to work as a risk and financial advisory consultant for Deloitte.
His tenure at Waynesborough assuredly boosted Rice’s Deloitte appeal. But it’s an internship at SEI Investments that brings candidacy and caddying career together.
“I got a lot of practice, just like caddying, talking with adults and talking with professionals. I got a lot of practice with public speaking,” Rice said. “We did an internship-wide case study competition throughout the course of the summer. We presented it to 200 employees. That was nerve-wracking but it was great practice. Getting the speech across at the Brunch wasn’t as intimidating as it could’ve been.”
The awestruck becomes the awed.
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.