Tales From The Trail: ‘Old Broke Down’ Gets His First Flag

July 03, 2012 | Evan Vollerthum

In my five years as an aspiring PGA Tour caddie, I have been to a lot of places and met a lot of people.  Tales From The Trail is a series of short stories about my travels on the minor league golf circuit formerly known as the Nationwide Tour.

A tour caddie’s career is judged by his results, more specifically wins.  After a golf tournament is completed, the winning caddie traditionally keeps the flag used on the 18th hole and has his player sign it for him as a keepsake.  Last week, a good friend of mine, 48 year old Roosevelt Richardson III aka ‘Old Broke Down’ got his first flag.

The first time I met Rosey was during my tenure as a club caddie at Bel-Air Country Club in Beverly Hills.  After speaking to this loudmouth, gold-chain wearing fool from San Francisco, I thought he was a little nutty.  I soon came to find out we had a common passion for caddying in professional golf tournaments.  We lived close to each other, so I began giving him rides into Bel-Air every morning.  I would pick him up at 4am, at the Van Nuys 7-11 near his house, so we would be ensured of having a good chance of working that day.  As months went by of socializing with each other in the caddie yard and on our way to work, we both made plans to start our season on tour.  Logically, we decided to travel together in order to cut down on the cost of travel expenses.  Our friendship evolved as a result of being stuck with each other on the road.

Caddying on the Nationwide Tour was not a flashy lifestyle.  Our weekly pay was averaging $750 and a small percentage of our players earnings.  Some weeks if we had to fly to the next city, rent a car and pay for a hotel room, we would end up losing money.  This formula caused a lot of struggling tour caddies to go broke and dig themselves into debt.  I myself retired in large part due to not having enough funds nor earning enough to support my career.

Finally, after fourteen years of caddying on tour, Rosey finally struck gold this past week in Evansville, Indiana.  Having had an unsuccessful first half to his 2012 season on tour, Old Broke Down was back in the parking lot looking for a bag in Evansville.  He approached a familiar face in PGA Tour pro Peter Tomasulo.  Pete was looking for a caddie and Rosey was the guy.  Pete had known Rosey prior from seeing his face at tournaments and always saying hello as they are both residents of southern California.  Rarely do you find a player that good in the lot, but Pete was only playing Evansville as a rehab start.  He was recovering from a torn labrum he had suffered at Torrey Pines earlier in the PGA Tour season.  After the first 2 rounds in the sweltering hot 108 degree Ohio River Valley heat, which took down at least a dozen caddies with heat stroke, Pete & Rosey were sitting at two under par in the middle of the pack.  On saturday, Pete really got going and posted a seven under par 65.  He made ten birdies on the day and clinched a spot in the final pairing for sunday’s final round.  Sunday was going smoothly and Pete had a one stroke lead headed to the final hole.  Unfortunately, Pete blocked his tee shot dead right, landing in the middle of a water hazard.  The years of frustration came out as Rosey threw his hat to the ground turned and walked towards the back of the tee box muttering to himself in disbelief.  Pete was now scrambling to make bogey and force a playoff.  Somehow, Pete squashed the negative vibes of the previous swing and salvaged bogey by getting down in three off his second tee shot.  After a 4-hole playoff against young swedish counterpart David Lingmerth, Pete arose victorious and Rosey had achieved a career goal of his.  Fourteen years of hard work and sacrifice had finally paid off for Old Broke Down.

'Old Broke Down' congradulates his pro, Peter Tomasulo, after their victory in Evansville, IN.

Rosey returned to Bel-Air on tuesday morning with his head held high.  He can now say he has done something a lot of talented tour caddies haven’t including myself.  Rosey had obtained a flag as a winning caddie.  Noone will ever be able to take that achievement away from him.  He now falls into the category of successful tour caddies to win a golf tournament.  I’ll be pulling for Rosey and will be forever jealous of his success.  After fourteen years of sacrifice on the minor league circuit, a man deserves a good break once in a while.  This story is why being successful as a caddie on tour, has to do with being in the right place at the right time and persevering through the difficult stretches.