Playing out the string
Easton Paxton hired a unique caddie at this week’s season-ender
September 18, 2022
By Laury Livsey , PGA TOUR Canada
- September 18, 2022
- In Thursday’s first round, during an in-between-shots conversation with Easton Paxton, caddie Lance Ouellette explained how the sap from the trees they were looking at, mixed with a little beeswax, makes ideal bow rosin.
KITCHENER, Ontario—As caddie Lance Ouellette and his boss, Easton Paxton, strolled down the Deer Ridge Golf Club fairways earlier this week during the Fortinet Cup Championship, as usual, Paxton took a look at the trees lining both sides of Deer Ridge’s fairways and saw nothing but trouble. Ouellette, on the other hand, gazed at the white pines and the red spruces on the property and thought about . . . violin bow rosin?
It’s the kind of thing concert violinists think about.
Usually, Ouellette, the associate concertmaster for both the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, who also plays for the Toronto Symphony, would be preparing for Monday night’s rehearsal for this coming weekend’s concerts at Roy Thomson Hall, where the Toronto Symphony is playing Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (when was the last time you saw a Russian composer’s name in a golf story?). Instead, Ouellette is keeping his prized Italian violin, created and assembled in 1832, in its case in favor of a bag full of golf clubs. No tuxedo either. A caddie vest has had to suffice.Lance Ouellette, is the associate concertmaster for both the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. He also plays for the Toronto Symphony and and teaches violin at the University of Waterloo.
In Thursday’s first round, during an in-between-shots conversation with Paxton, Ouellette explained how the sap from the trees they were looking at, mixed with a little beeswax, makes ideal bow rosin.
Hey, it’s not just Ouellette, a first-time caddie, learning something new.
“We’ve had a blast,” says Paxton, a Wyoming native tied for 48th in the tournament with 18 holes to play. “There have been times where I feel like I’m getting mad, and we just start talking about whatever walking down the fairway.” Fly fishing, hunting, bow-rosin-making. Anything but golf, which is how Paxton likes it.Ouellette, a first-time caddie, helps Paxton stay loose by making small talk on the golf course.
Earlier this week, once Ouellette learned his friend Eric Horn would be caddying for Canadian pro Brendan MacDougall, Ouellette says he became a little envious. “Talk to the caddie master and put my name on the list,” Ouellette asked Horn, who complied. A couple of days later, Paxton, who has not employed a regular caddie all season, called the 44-year-old musician and hired him.
While it’s been a disappointing week for Paxton, Ouellette has been soaking everything in. He also sees parallels between his two “jobs.”
“I wouldn't say that caddying and playing violin are all too similar. But in my job as second chair (violinist), there's the concertmaster and associate concertmaster. The thing is, the associate takes care of the concertmaster. So, it's almost like caddying in the violin world,” Ouellette explains. “The only problem is, is when the concertmaster is sick, the associate has to take over. And I’m really glad in golf that is not the case. Because if Easton is not feeling well—”
Ouellette’s voice trails off and the plus-6 handicap violinist gives a wide grin, thinking of the 10-handicap he is on the golf course.
“I’m just happy to have somebody carry the bag. When he mentioned that he was a violinist, I was like, I can't wait to talk to this guy. It’s gonna be interesting, right?” Paxton says. “I still don’t know a lot about what he does, but I think the dude can shred, and he’s pretty humble. I’m getting little bits and pieces here and there of how good he is as a musician, but he’s not telling me fully.”
Yes, he’s good, although Ouellette having someone describe him as a guy who can shred may be a first. The native of Saint John, New Brunswick, began playing at age four, graduated from the University of Toronto in violin performance, has performed in Europe, Asia and throughout Canada and teaches violin at the University of Waterloo. He can now add PGA TOUR Canada caddie to his Linkedin page.It’s a family of musicians as Ouellette’s wife, Justyna, who is an osteopath, is also a concert pianist.
The two new friends will part ways Sunday afternoon once the tournament concludes, Ouellette returning to his day job and Paxton getting in his car and driving to Illinois, where he will play in the first stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament in Naperville. Paxton will likely carry his own bag all four days outside Chicago.
For Paxton, in what wouldn’t ordinarily be a memorable tournament surprisingly turned into one because of who he worked with. Now, it was Paxton’s turn to smile. “Lance is a really good caddie. He pays attention to things that sometimes I don’t, so I think we make a good combo. He’s very in tune with what’s going on around him.”
See what he did there?