Operating out of Orange County National in Horizon West, Kiddie Kaddie aims to offer local youth and teen golfers a leg up on the competition with professional caddies to work junior tour events.
HORIZON WEST For most junior golfers navigating any of the ultra-competitive circuits that run through Central Florida, the term “caddy” is usually synonymous with either “Daddy” or “Mommy.”
And, although having one’s parents caddy for him or her is certainly cost effective, it can lead to some strained relationships and some tense car rides home depending on how that day’s round goes.
That problem is the opportunity Maria Castellucci recognized leading up to the launch of Kiddie Kaddie, her service operating out of Orange County National that provides professionally trained caddies for junior golfers.
“We started noticing that kids that we were instructing wanted to have us on the bag,” Castellucci said. “And we started to notice a gap, in service, of the different things that a caddy could provide that no one else could.”
Those observations led Castellucci — who herself was once the top female junior golfer in the country before a collegiate career at Florida State and three years of professional golf — to do some research.
“I started asking parents questions about how nervous they got when they caddied for their children and how much pressure they felt,” Castellucci said.
The golfers and their parents weren’t the only ones who stood to benefit, either. Castellucci reached out to two high-level staffers within one of the national junior tours and discovered the events, themselves, could be improved with professional caddies.
“A lot of the (pace of play) problems they were experiencing on the course were due to parents not knowing the rules, as well as getting over-involved and taking five minutes for a five-foot put,” Castellucci said.
Kiddie Kaddie launched in February 2016 and, among other professionals, has brought on Michael McMillan as its director of instruction. McMillan said having the same person who gives a junior golfer his or her lesson out on the course during an event can be a tremendous benefit.
“When you go out there, you’ll see things you didn’t see in the driving range (for a lesson),” McMillan said. “You just get to learn more (about the golfer) by being out there with them.”
After several years of working within the field, McMillan said it also can be a more effective way of getting advice across to a youth or teen than from his or her parents in that moment.
“(Parents are) having to tell these kids all week, ‘Do your homework, make your bed,’” McMillan said. “And then you go out there and try to adjust their grip, and there’s automatically a tension already built up.”
Already, feedback has been positive as several of Kiddie Kaddie’s clients have seen dropping scores.
Castellucci, who has a doctoral degree in mental-health counseling and works with at-risk children as part of her “day job,” said having a non-family member on the bag can be beneficial from a psyche standpoint, as well.
“Our caddies interact with the kids — they keep them laughing, keep them loose,” Castellucci said.
Castellucci also is excited to partner with McMillan and some of the other professionals to launch her Castellucci Golf Center — a coaching service that will also operate out of Orange County National — in January.
A website for both is under construction, but for now, those interested in getting more information can search for Kiddie Kaddie on Facebook.
And although the services may be an added expense some families may not have in their budget, McMillan said those who do are getting more than just an improved golfer.
“We cover every angle, and then we’re a family unit on top of that,” McMillan said.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].