From caddie to pro golfer

Justin Kadin hopes to play pro golf after looping at Tetherow

By Zack Hall / The Bulletin / @cogolfguy

Published Jun 26, 2014 at 12:01AM

Justin Kadin looks like any other caddie.

Dressed in white coveralls adorned with the logo of Tetherow Golf Club, where he has worked for three seasons, Kadin scrambles to clean up after helping a twosome make its way around the diabolical golf course in southwest Bend.

He cleans their cart and wipes off their clubs — just another day at the office.

“It’s good money and it’s second nature for me, doing everything that I would do for myself in a tournament round,” Kadin says. “I’m friendly and give them my knowledge and it saves them, especially at this golf course, so many strokes.”

Kadin, a 24-year-old who grew up in Corvallis and is now a part-time Bend resident, has dreams of being on the other side of the caddie-golfer relationship.

He is an aspiring golf professional with an impressive amateur resume that includes a trip to the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship and a planned appearance in the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship next month in Kansas.

In just the last two weeks Kadin finished in a tie for fourth in the Oregon Open Invitational at Black Butte Ranch, earned the No. 3 seed at the Oregon Amateur Championship before being upset in the second round, and this past Sunday earned a spot in the U.S. Public Links in a qualifier at Salishan Spa & Golf Resort in Gleneden Beach.

After a week off from tournament golf, he will be back at it again on July 7 at a U.S. Amateur qualifier at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond before heading to Newton, Kan., for the Public Links.

That is no ordinary summer for a caddie, but it is precisely why he wanted to become one after spending two seasons working outside services for Tetherow.

“I was gone all the time; with scheduling it was much easier for me to (exclusively) be a caddie,” says Kadin, adding that caddies enjoy flexible schedules. “I’ve been playing golf nonstop for a month and a half since I have been back (at Tetherow). I’ve had a tournament every week, it seems like.”

Long attracted to the lifestyle in Bend while growing up in the Willamette Valley, he finally got his chance to move here after graduating from the University of Idaho in 2012.

His childhood friend Brandon Taylor, another high-level amateur golfer working as a caddie at Tetherow, recommended Kadin to then-Tetherow head professional Caleb Anderson for an outside services job at the club.

The position entailed much of the grunt work on a golf course, such as washing golf carts. But Kadin also would get his first taste of caddying.

Not wanting to end his competitive golf career, either, he found that the job at Tetherow was a perfect fit for someone not “ready for a nine-to-five, sit-behind-the-desk-all-day kind of job,” says Kadin, who also spent last winter as a caddie at the posh Vintage Club in Indian Wells, Calif.

“I just fell in love with (caddying) right away,” he adds.

He loves playing even more, and he found support at Tetherow.

Chris van der Velde, Tetherow’s managing partner and a former European Tour player, knows well how hard it is for a young golfer move up the ranks, which is why he tries to be flexible with Kadin.

“Anyone who puts in the work, time and energy to make it, I’ll gladly support it,” van der Velde says.

Plus, van der Velde notes, the characteristics that help Kadin compete also serve him well as an employee.

“The difference (for pro golfers) is a desire and drive to play and get better, even when it is not going well,” van der Velde says. “Justin has that.”

A late bloomer who only began playing competitively as a sophomore at Crescent Valley High School, Kadin was quick to become an accomplished golfer. He won the Class 5A state championship in 2007, outdueling the likes of Bend High’s Andrew Vijarro.

He played three seasons at Idaho, where he was a significant contributor in his senior year.

But only after he started working at Tetherow did he find himself competing at an elite amateur level.

Last year at a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifier at OGA Golf Course in Woodburn, Kadin shot a final-round 65 to win medalist honors at 10 under par. That sent him to the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., where he missed the cut to enter match play by two strokes.

Still, playing against the nation’s best amateurs only strengthened his resolve.

“The last couple years when I started putting up consistent under-par rounds in tournaments is when I started thinking that I legitimately have a shot (of going pro),” says Kadin, who was in the varsity lineup only sparingly at Idaho until his senior season. “Especially shooting 69-65 last summer to make the U.S. Am, that was big for my confidence.”

Now he plans to play in the Welcome Tour’s National Qualifying School this fall. If he falls short there, Kadin will play on the mini-tours, if he can find the sponsorship to pay for the run.

One thing he does not lack is confidence. For him, caddying on the faded fescue of Tetherow is merely his start.

“I’ve been to a lot of professional events,” Kadin says. “They don’t hit it any better than I do. It’s all about the short game. That’s all it is at the highest level. Having the sponsors and the financial backing is what I need.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7868, zhall@bendbulletin.com.