Q&A with this month’s #PlattProfile, Brandon Vattima.
Vattima speaks about his physical therapy experience which led him to become a physical therapist himself.
(This interview has been edited for clarity and length.)
Q: How old are you?
A: I am 24.
Q: What school are you currently attending?
A: I am at Quinnipiac University.
Q: When did you graduate?
A: I graduated on May 8th but my official graduation date is August 31st of this year.
Q: What was your major?
A: Physical Therapy.
Q: How did you decide on that major?
A: I had a really transformative experience myself with the PT world. I feel like everybody who has firsthand experience is able to kind of speak upon that a little bit more. A good experience myself, helped me reach my goals really quickly, and I wanted to give that back and do the same for other people.
Q: What did you go to physical therapy for?
A: I had wrist surgery in 2013, the club hockey team I was playing for at the time was going to the national championship and I ended up breaking my wrist four and a half weeks before. So, I needed to get surgery and my surgeon was like I probably wouldn’t go out and play but my PT said, “Hey, if you stay diligent with this and do XY and Z in that time, it’s not going to be 100%, but I think if we tape it up and we get all of the hardware out of you, you should be good to go.” I ended up coming back, played perfectly fine, and you know, that meant so much to me, as a 17-year-old, that I had somebody who listened to me and was like, “Yea, we may be going a little bit against the grain here but in my professional opinion, you should be good to go.” And again, that was really a transformative experience for me that I was hoping to give back to others.
Q: Do you participate in activities at school?
A: I was a part of Greek life. I was the president of the club hockey team. I was on student government as a sophomore and junior class representative. I was an orientation leader as well so I was there over the summers. And I was a tour guide as well.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I play golf and work out here and there.
Q: What golf club do you caddie for?
A: I am currently at The Springhaven Club.
Q: How long have you been caddying?
A: Since 2016, so 5 years.
Q: How did you start caddying?
A: Well it was summer, I was 16 years old, and I needed a job. I was starting to drive and going to Applebee’s four times a week. I ended up reaching out to a friend’s dad who actually knew one of the bartenders at Springhaven. I was under the impression I would be waiting on tables or doing banquets or something like that. So I go in for my interview and I had asked if there were any positions open in the golf operations and they were like yea. So, they took me down there. I ended up working in the bag room at Springhaven for a year then I started caddying later that summer and I haven’t looked back since.
Q: What is your favorite thing about caddying?
A: I would probably say the team approach that comes along with it especially if you’re carrying for somebody who values your input. Not only does that make the rounds go by quickly but it makes the rounds that much more enjoyable. You are dialed in the entire time, you’re watching balls so much closer, you’re getting more accurate numbers. The amount of engagement I am getting from the person I am carrying for in turn is what I give to them in reciprocation. And I think that is definitely my favorite piece of it, that team approach, and how I am just as much dialed in as the person hitting the shots.
Q: How did you hear about J. Wood Platt?
A: A senior caddy, that was working at Springhaven. He had applied and he said to me, “Hey man, keep your eye out for this. You’re really involved in school, I am sure they would be more than generous to you.” I’ve only done it the last two years but the first time I got my scholarship and it was for x amount of dollars, it was way more than I was expecting. I actually got the phone call from my dad on a Saturday night while I was studying by myself, it was like 10:30, I had a crazy week the next week and I was studying lines and tubes for my cardio exam on Monday. So, my dad called, “J. Wood Platt just gave you ten thousand dollars.” I broke down crying. I was like WHAT! I just got chills talking about it because it is so wild to me that such an organization exists to give back when I feel like caddies are very giving people. It’s give, give, give, and just to get a little bit of recognition and even have banquets put together. At the banquets, I just felt like all of the boys we were hanging out with were awesome. It is such a good group, such a good environment, and the fact that J. Wood Platt is able to help people along in this crazy college journey and people are coming out with little to no student debt, is fantastic. I am really fortunate to be part of this bigger community here and carry golf bags while doing it.
Q: What are your long-term goals? Think 5 to 10 years
A: As a recent graduate of Quinnipiac University’s Physical Therapy program, I hope to pass my board exam and begin practicing by the end of this year. Moving forward, I would love to continue to caddie in the GAP, build more connections, and allow my expertise in other areas to leak into my caddying. I intend to program exercise and mobility routines for golfers to enhance their performance as well as improve their overall quality of life. There are so many different areas of wellness that I would love to get into, and I foresee the golfing community to be my outlet.
Q: What is something that happened to you while caddying that you will never forget?
A: In my first year caddying at The Springhaven Club in 2015, I was just getting into golf. I had a “rinky-dink” set that was so bad you would have thought that it came with chicken nuggets, small fries, and a coke. Being left-handed makes things that much more difficult because I had friends with old sets of clubs, but no one was a lefty. A member at Springhaven that I began to caddie for quite regularly had just gotten a new set of irons… he was left-handed. When we get to the first tee, I completely messing around with him say: “ Hey _________, how about this… rather than paying me for the loop today, you can just give me your old sticks and we’ll call it all square? Deal? Ok good”. I slapped him on the shoulder and started laughing… he wasn’t. “They are just sitting in my garage collecting dust. I’ll bring them tomorrow”. This member shows up the next day with a 3 iron through 60deg wedge and a 3 wood for me… blown away. I thanked him up down and around, and on top of that, he slipped $60 into the bundle of clubs when I opened it … “Don’t think I forgot to pay you yesterday”.
Q: What advice would you give your younger self as a caddie or a new caddie just starting?
A: In my experience, what made me a good caddie was not my knowledge of the game, but more my punctuality and professionalism. If I could go back and give my younger self advice, or give a new caddie any advice, it would simply be to take pride in what you do. Your performance is a direct representation of the club you work for as well as the person that you are. You don’t need to know how to read greens or suggest clubs, but hard work and attention to detail is what impresses someone you are carrying for. The way you do anything is the way you do everything.
Q: How has J. Wood Platt changed your life?
A: JWP showed me that a community can be formed and thrive seemingly from nothing. Caddies are very giving people in nature, and we always want to go above and beyond for those we are carrying for. Knowing that there is an organization that has gone above and beyond for us truly makes me feel special. In GAP, with such elite clubs and memberships, it could have been easy to let the caddies fall to the wayside. Incredible awareness and initiative from the group at JWP to help change the lives of so many young men and women. Moving forward I would love to see JWP/GAP continue to make this beautiful game as accessible as possible for anyone that wants to play. I’m sure there are plenty of other members who let that old set continue to collect dust in their garage when it could go to someone who wants to get into the game.
J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust
The Trust’s mission, which has remained constant since its inception in 1958, is to financially aid deserving caddies in their pursuit of higher education. The J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust was created by GAP 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.