"The pros out here are pretty cheap," explains Mark O'Meara.
"They may be multimillionaires, but you know the saying, If it's
free, I'll take three."
But although the players can get a free lunch--and often
breakfast and dinner--in the clubhouse during tournaments, many
instead opt to pay at the Caddie Wagon, a diner on wheels
operated by the Professional Tour Caddies Association.
Before the PTCA was formed eight years ago, loopers were forced
to catch a bite just like fans--on the run at usually overpriced
concession stands. Now caddies, and some pros, too, eat in the
wagon. A full kitchen provides snacks, sandwiches and hot meals
at prices even a Tour pro can handle: anywhere from 75 cents to
$3.75, with a 25% discount for PTCA members.
Good, inexpensive food is just one of the reasons the players
like to hang at the wagon. Almost as important: Neither the
media nor the public is welcome--unless invited by a member.
The wagon's $100,000 budget is subsidized by the Tour, and there
are three employees: driver and afternoon cook Jim Medziak, who
used to caddie for Roger Maltbie and John Inman; and the wives
of two caddies, Karen Hippenstiel, the waitress, and Joanie
Nucara, who cooks, does the shopping and keeps the books.
Nucara took over from "Gypsy" Joe Grillo, one of the founders of
the PTCA, who caddies for Steve Elkington. Tour pro Jim
McGovern, who eats in the wagon as often as five times a week,
thinks the change in management has been for the best. "The
food's better, no question," he says. Not everyone agrees. Brad
Faxon, for one, fondly remembers the now-departed Egg McGypsy.
The wagon operates at 26 Tour events, taking a pass when there's
too much distance between stops, the employees need a vacation
or the pros are at the Masters, which has never tendered an
invitation. There's time off this week as well. The Caddie Wagon
is not welcome at the Memorial.