Cali brings caddie pedigree to Ford City
By Bill West
Published: Monday, Aug. 13, 2012
Joe Cali has spent the past four summers helping golfers navigate one of the country's most challenging and celebrated courses.
Now he'll take a shot at guiding Ford City's boys golfers around the links when they compete in WPIAL Class AA matches this fall.
Cali, 31, enters his first season as Ford City's boys golf coach with a background that includes part-time caddie experience at Oakmont Country Club.
He's not a longtime golfer — he started playing seven years ago. But he became a serious student of the game in a short amount of time. And he's grown eager to educate the Sabers, some of whom are also in his world cultures classroom.
“It's a lifelong sport that I wish I had picked up when I was younger,” said Cali, who was hired in July. “It's not just swinging the club. … Sometimes I come out of a round of golf, and I'm mentally more than physically tired.”
Cali, a 1999 Kiski Area graduate, hit balls a couple times in college, he said.
But his enthusiasm for the sport took off shortly after he befriended fellow Ford City teacher Jim Simmons, who agreed to teach Cali some basics.
They started going to local courses, including Ford City's home site, Lenape Heights, on a weekly basis. Like most newcomers, Cali struggled. But he consumed every tip Simmons offered and still craved more.
“He just picks up on everything,” Simmons said.
“He goes to golf shows. He researches golf a lot. … About all I could do was give him some basic swings and shots. He's taken it from there.”
When he learned about caddie opportunities at Oakmont, Cali jumped at the chance.
“I did it on a whim,” he said. “I never thought I'd get the job.”
His hiring put him in position to study some of Western Pennsylvania's top golfers.
It also gave him a chance to play the course — caddies tee off after 4 p.m. Mondays.
Cali shoots in the mid- to low-40s for nine holes these days. He's well-versed in course-management strategies and inclement-weather adjustments.
What Cali learned as a caddie will no doubt help him as a coach. But there are challenges that are unique to the latter, he cautioned.
“The difference (in being a caddie) is most of the guys there have played golf their whole life,” Cali said.
“Most of these kids still have the grip-and-rip mentality. … It's all about length for them right now, and I want to get them to manage their game.”
Cali acknowledges he can only advise the Sabers. He can't take the swings or even choose the clubs, and the new coach said the possibility of his guidance going unused makes him a little nervous. But, as a savvy caddie, he knows better than to try to control his golfers.
“When I first sat down with my guys,” Cali said, “the first thing I said is, ‘Your golf game is your golf game. I'm not going to try to change that. My goal is to knock strokes off your score. But you know your game better than I do.'”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1321.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Panthers free agent safety headed to Steelers
- Orpik rises to occasion in Penguins win
- Can Pirates star outfielder McCutchen be even better in 2014?
- Penguins notebook: Letang skating, but no return set
- Robert Morris dominated by Mount St. Mary’s in NEC title game
- Mason chasing history at Duquesne
- Hempfield girls harass way to win over Fox Chapel
- Upper St. Clair man dies in crash of experimental airplane at Washington County Airport
- Monroeville Council adopts 2014 budget, raises taxes
- PIAA girls basketball roundup: Seton-La Salle again ousts Greensburg C.C.
- WPIAL flavor fuels Point Park women