Jayda Dookie didn’t quite know what she was getting into when her high school coach reached out about a caddying opportunity at Seminole Golf Club.
Ranked the top course in Florida for the last 35 years by Golf Digest, the Club has a rich history of hosting the corporate elite along with a couple of high-profile events in the past. But Jayda was about to make her own history. When Jayda, a First Tee – Florida Gold Coast participant, signed on as caddy, she was unaware that she would become the first female caddy in the history of the storied club. As a freshman, she was also the youngest caddy in the yard when she took the job four years ago.
“A lot of the caddies were excited to see a girl come and do this job, not only because you have to engage with a lot of important people, but it’s also a physical job,” she explained. “I quicky had to get out my shell. I had to make sure my players were comfortable, and I definitely only succeeded because of the mentors I had in the caddy yard.”
She said planning ahead is an important part of caddying at Seminole: “First we have to forecaddie. We must get to the ball before the players do to get all the numbers like distance from the hole, wind speed and direction. At Seminole, we really place an emphasis on pace of play, and the only way we’re able to do that is if our caddies are two steps ahead of our players,” she said.
Jayda said it was intimidating to start her job at Seminole, but now she loves it because of the network she’s forged.
“I have learned so much through the other caddies and members,” she said. “Many are prominent CEOs and business leaders, and it’s good for me to watch how business deals are negotiated the golf course.”
That’s especially true since Jayda plans to have a career in international business – even though she’ll be sad to leave Seminole when she attends college in the fall. “I’m definitely going to miss it, but I know there’s an invitation extended for me to come back because they’ve become my second family now,” she said.
Jayda credits First Tee’s John Deere Drive Your Future Academy with helping her select her future career path. She attended the event in San Francisco last summer. “It was amazing to see girls from all over the country gather to learn about business and leadership and play golf,” she said. “We didn’t know each other at first but by the end we all felt like family.”
Jayda said First Tee has not only given her lots of impactful opportunities – including a recent behind-the-scenes visit to The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens – but also a supportive community.
“I’m probably not going to remember all the stress and heartbreaks of different tournaments but I’m definitely going to remember the people and the family that has gathered around me thanks to golf.”
Jayda was recently named Participant of the Year by First Tee – Florida Gold Coast.
She credits the sport with teaching her discipline and giving her confidence and recommends golf for any girls who are looking for a new hobby. “I think they should definitely do it,” she said. “Golf is a sport you can play for life. Golf gives you a community and opportunities and people to lean on if you ever need help.”