Golfers hoping to improve their golf game may want to consider hiring a caddie. And not just any caddie — Theodore Batkin.
“He’s like a good luck charm,” said Batkin’s grandfather, Jeff Hoops, who had a hole-in-one on Aug. 31 on the 10th hole at Rockville Links Country Club as Batkin caddied for him.
Hoops, 65, a longtime Rockville Centre resident who has been a member at Rockville Links for over 30 years, had hit two holes-in-one on the course before, but his lucky grandson got to witness his third.
“I think I hit a seven iron,” Hoops said. “We saw it land on the green and then roll into the cup.” As the third noteworthy event Batkin had witnessed in his first five times out as a caddie, the ace confirmed that the teenager was not just hauling bags, but bringing good fortune to those around him.
Batkin, 14, a freshman at South Side High School, said he began playing golf at camps at the Rockville Links when he was 6. “I saw the older caddies doing their job and it seemed pretty fun,” he said. Of age this summer to begin caddying at the club, Batkin was excited to get started, and his grandfather would invite him out when he hit the course.
On July 8, during Batkin’s first round as a caddie, Frank Falanga, who was playing in a foursome with Hoops and Batkin, hit a hole-in-one on No. 10, the hole Hoops would ace less than two months later.
“I hit the shot, it felt good,” Falanga said. “It hit the front of the green and I just picked up my tee and walked away.”
Batkin said the group was not sure Falanga’s shot went in the cup until they looked through a rangefinder to get a closer look at the green. “We couldn’t see the ball around, so it was pretty exciting,” Batkin recalled.
That day, Falanga shot a 79. It was the first time he had ever broken 80.
A month later, on Aug. 10, Batkin once again caddied for his grandfather. John Guyton, a PGA professional, was playing with Hoops’ group that day, and broke the course record. He sunk a putt on the 18th hole to notch a 62, according to Batkin, breaking the Rockville Links record by a stroke.
“We were all just lined up holding hands, staying really quiet and just staring at the ball,” Batkin said. “When he made it in, everybody just shouted and was so excited.”
Batkin has caddied about a dozen times, and witnessed the two holes-in-one and the course record in his first five times out. Though the school year has begun, he continues to accompany his grandfather on weekends.
He enjoys his job, which in addition to assisting golfers for 18 holes includes carrying bags for members from the parking lot into the clubhouse and cleaning clubs after the rounds.
As Falanga recently remembered the best round of his life, he said a few months later he now knows where his luck came from. “I was wondering who it was that day,” he said, “and after we heard [about] the course record and the other hole-in-one, I was like, OK, it’s Teddy.”