Dave Bart The Last Caddie

51470992_1601096195251366_r.jpegI do not know Dave personally, but after reading this article, I felt compelled to do something for him.  Let's help Dave get the apartment he dreams  of and deserves.  Hopefully he has enough for a new radio and maybe an inexpensive car.  

By Mark Patinkin
Journal Columnist

He’s the last of them at the Metacomet Golf Club.

The last caddie.

As the club approaches its final day after 120 years, I drove there to meet him.

Dave Bart is 58, and he has made these 18 holes, opposite the harbor stretch of the East Bay Bike Path, his second home since 2005.

He’s been a caddie 30 years.

That likely makes him one of the state’s most veteran “loopers,” as the job is called.

Now that the course is closing as a developer plans commercial and residential there, Dave isn’t sure where he’ll go next.

I found Dave this week standing by the Metacomet pro shop, looking to be picked up for a “loop.”

On lucky days, he’ll find half a foursome wanting to walk while Dave carries their two bags, one on each shoulder.

That’s usually a four-hour job and good for $60 or $80 from each — and a bit more from the two others in the foursome for helping with divots and finding balls.

But more often lately, because membership has dwindled, Dave is hired as a fore-caddie, standing down-fairway to keep an eye on balls. That pays less.

Still, Dave is happy to get every dollar.

He lives lean, in a one-room apartment on the Pawtucket-Central Falls line. It’s really a rooming house with 23 guys sharing bathrooms and a kitchen. But it’s affordable — $520 a month.

Often, to save money on bus fare, Dave walks almost two hours from his home to the course. On the way, he listens to WHJY on an old-school transistor radio he bought for $5 at the Dollar Store.

He can’t stream on his phone because it’s a beat-up flip. But that saves money too.

On colder days, he’ll take a 6:45 a.m. bus to get here, but with walking time from the stop, that still takes an hour.

It’s worth it, though. Dave says his is a tough neighborhood, so he loves days in Metacomet’s beauty and nature.

Sometimes, he gets to see coyotes.

Unlike student summer caddies — basically all gone now — Dave has decades here that give him deep knowledge of the course. That’s why folks like to hire him for a loop around the 18.

He knows the subtle breaks of the greens, and whether a 7-iron from a particular lie is better than a 6. When shots go askew, he can tell from their flight where they landed. That’s a big part of the job — watching the ball.

Dave grew up in Pawtucket, his mom a Fleet bank teller, his dad working floor machines at Davol Rubber.

Dave was an Army guy for almost eight years, Military Police in Germany twice, and at Fort Hood in Texas.

Afterward, he stocked shelves at Family Dollar. But his brother worked at East Providence’s Wannamoisett Country Club, so Dave went for a job there and got one as a locker-room attendant. Then he started as a caddie, later switching to Metacomet, and that’s been his life.

As we chatted, I looked down at Dave’s left hand.

“I don’t see a ring,” I said.

“No,” he told me, “there’s no Mrs. Bart.”

There was once. While a soldier, he married in Texas in 1983. But soon after, he got orders to go to Germany and the marriage didn’t last. He said his heart’s still a bit broken. He hasn’t had a serious relationship since.

There used to be a caddie-master at Metacomet assigning dozens, but no longer. Occasionally lately, there has also been a teen caddie, but mostly it’s just Dave.  

He comes Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, usually landing one job a day. He’s done two at times but that’s a lot. It means going out at 8 a.m. for four hours, then another round at 1 pm. With his commute, that would be a 12-hour day.

I asked Dave what he likes most about the work.

The people, he said. The folks at Metacomet are his main community in life.

“They treat you like one of theirs,” he says.

He meant people like Lewis “Bruzzy” Wintman, now 72, retired beer and wine wholesaler and 40-year Metacomet member. His dad was a member, too, starting in 1952.

Lewis, who recently left the club because of the plans to sell and develop, put it this way about Metacomet’s last caddie:

“He was Dave and I was Bruzz.”

Most members, he said, liked to walk the course, and Dave caddied for him hundreds of times.

“He’s a character,” said Lewis. “A hot ticket. Fun to be around. He was part of the group.”

When Lewis thinks of caddies there, Dave Bart stands out as the main long-timer, certainly now.

Dave knows the development plan remains a fierce controversy, but Wednesday, Sept. 30 has been declared by the owners as the club’s final day.

So the world of this last caddie is truly about to come to a stop.

Dave is hoping to find another course — he’s carried clubs on almost all of them in Rhode Island during tournaments.

But he hasn’t explored that yet. And he’s got a bad wrist that makes other jobs he’s done, like dishwasher or janitorial work, tough for him.

If nothing comes through, he worries this will make it harder to achieve his dream of an apartment with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Dave plans to be at Metacomet on the final day. He’s sure many of the long-timers will be there too, and he’ll definitely be hired for a “loop.”

As he walks it, he plans to take a picture of every hole, so he has the memories.

Then, at day’s end, he’ll head home, walking up Lyon Avenue along the 13th hole toward the bus stop on Taunton Avenue.

He’ll look over his shoulder one final time and check out the course.

Because Metacomet was home.

And Dave Bart the last caddie.


 


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