Caddie Scholarship Success Story: Baltusrol's James Musson
In the span of seven years, James Musson has gone from novice to championship caddie.
In 2012, the 14-year-old arrived at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield with barely any knowledge of the sport. Fast forward nearly eight years and Musson has emerged as one of the club’s top caddies.
It came full circle in 2018 when - by chance - he was placed on the bag of Michael Thorbjornsen of Massachusetts, who would go on to win the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Baltusrol.
“I was lucky enough to be paired with Michael Thorbjornsen at the U.S. Junior Amateur. It was a very humbling and amazing experience to caddie for someone on that level and to see firsthand what it might be like to be on the bag of someone who plays like a PGA professional,” said Musson, a senior-year electrical engineering major at New Jersey Institute of Technology. “None of this would have happened if I hadn’t become a caddie, and I hope that other caddies can share similar experiences.”
It was Musson who steered Thorbjornsen through Baltusrol’s Lower Course, calling upon the caddie for club selection and reads on greens. The two developed a comfortable rapport.
“We clicked because we were both young. He knew I knew what I was talking about. He always asked for a second opinion on the greens. On the par 4, 14th hole, the tee was moved forward and it was drivable. I took out his driver for him and he put it on the green. It was one of the greatest shots I’d ever seen – and he went on to win by one stroke.”
When Musson began at Baltusrol, he was forced to wait his turn like any other new caddie in hopes of being called upon to carry the bag of a member. He took a patient approach, which served him well.
“Caddieing has shaped who I am as an individual. I remember having to wait long days before being called out in my early years which tested my patience and discipline. I knew the more I went to the club, the more the caddie master would get to know me, and thus the earlier I would go out.
“That simple logic gave me the motivation and taught me to be disciplined in my day-to-day life. As time went on, I became more confident in my abilities such as reading greens and knowing the course like the back of my hand,” Musson said.
A graduate of Seton Hall Prep where he earned a varsity letter as a distance runner, Musson enjoyed the perks of the caddie life: a beautiful working atmosphere, meeting new friends and conversing with members. He did all of this while honing his skills as a caddie.
“When I started meeting people, I knew I would stick with it. It was nice to be making money, making connections, and working outside, where I could also get in a little exercise,” he said.
Musson later became a regular caddie for Baltusrol member Peter Feeney and eventually met Anthony Guzzi, another member, who had joined Feeney’s foursome. Through Mr. Guzzi, Musson secured an internship at Hubbell Wiring in Shelton, Conn., which has offered Musson permanent employment upon his graduation from NJIT this spring.
But Musson first wants to complete a master’s degree at NJIT, where he is already accruing credits for the advanced degree.
“I am focusing on working in the power industry. I was incredibly fortunate to meet Mr. Guzzi and to have that happen to me. My brother, Hunter, who is two years my junior, had a similar experience. He met a physical therapist, which is his field of study, and he now has a contact for a future internship or employment.”
Musson is very thankful for his NJSGA Mary Stackhouse Foundation Scholarship, a $6,000 award to eligible Caddie Scholars with a GPA of 3.5 and above. In combination with two other academic scholarships, he is attending NJIT free of cost.
“From caddieing, I definitely learned a work ethic of grinding and focusing on the end result. If you put in the effort it will pay off. Caddieing built my self-esteem. I was able to show people I could do what people didn’t think I could do,” Musson concluded.