“It was not difficult to pick Alex,” Kelly
continued. “He’s a nice kid. He gets good
grades. He works hard. He’s there all the time
and each year he’s gotten better and better.”
David Smondrowski, in his sixth year as
Whitemarsh Valley’s caddiemaster, offered
praise for O’Connor in the form of a Letter
of Recommendation submitted as part of the
“[Alex] is trustworthy, diligent, flexible,
smart, confident, and above all, willing to
learn,” Smondrowski wrote. “When he’s on a
loop, he’s totally engaged with his players and
As those at Whitemarsh Valley will tell
you, O’Connor, who graduated from nearby
Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, has made
a resoundingly positive impact at the club.
He is not, however, the first in his family to
do so. That honor belongs to Nick O’Connor,
the oldest of four O’Connor boys. It was Nick
who played an integral role in bringing Alex to
Whitemarsh in the first place.
When Alex started grade school, Nick was
already imprinting his footsteps on Whitemarsh Valley’s pristine fairways. After several
years on the job, Nick was named a Platt
Scholar. With the scholarship, Nick, who
is now a police officer in Cheltenham, Pa.,
earned his associate’s degree from Montgomery Country Community College. Alex recalls
the impact of his brother’s caddying days.
“I just remember dropping him off [at
Whitemarsh] and wanting to [go with him],”
Alex said. “But I was really too young.”
Eventually, however, O’Connor received his
chance. During the fall of 2013, O’Connor
donned a caddie bib for the first time. Since
then, he’s seldom taken it off.
There were, inevitably, challenges at first.
O’Connor still remembers the days when he
arrived at 7 a.m. to caddie at Whitemarsh
Valley, only to sit around waiting for a chance.
There were times when, after hours of waiting,
O’Connor would be forced to return home
with nothing to show for his efforts.
Even when he did get out on the golf
course, O’Connor faced his share of struggles.
Double-bagging specifically proved challenging for the thin middle-schooler. O’Connor
recalls the seemingly endless rounds during
which he counted each and every hole completed, longing for No. 18 to arrive.
Upon its commencement, the job was not
only physically taxing but also difficult for
O’Connor to fully understand. Although he
had some knowledge of the game from watching it on TV with his grandfather, O’Connor
will admit many of golf’s subtleties were
originally lost on him.
Almost seven years after his first loop, the
job has become much easier. The physical
demands are rarely a problem, although he
doubts he will ever enjoy walking up No. 16’s
steep incline. His grasp of the game is more
Nowadays, O’Connor and his golf acumen
have increased visibility at the club. In
addition to caddying, O’Connor also works
in the bag room, assisting members at both
the beginning and end of their rounds. In the
summer, there are days when O’Connor will
be at the club from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., picking
up a loop in the morning, before heading to
the bag room to work until darkness.
O’Connor began to play more golf
himself, frequently taking advantage of the
playing opportunities afforded to caddies at
Whitemarsh Valley on Mondays. He is even
considering trying out for the golf team at
Cabrini next fall.
With math as an academic strength,
O’Connor intends to focus his studies toward
risk management. The J. Wood Platt Caddie
Scholarship Trust continues to aid this pursuit.
“It really helped me out because now I have
no debt after freshmen year,” O’Connor said.
“[The scholarship] covered the rest of my
debt. It definitely saved me a lot of money in
Now, with two Platt Scholars in the family,
the award undoubtedly holds a special place
in the O’Connor hearts. Perhaps Max, the
youngest of the O’Connor boys at age 15, will
follow suit. He began caddying at Whitemarsh
this past fall. m
Greg Welsh is a junior at Villanova University, where
he is majoring in Communication with journalism and
media studies concentrations. He serves as the GAP
Communications intern. A Talamore Country Club
member, Greg resides in Ambler, Pa.
“I like to work a lot. I’m not really a person to sit still very much.”