Par Mate, Anyone?
Monica Echazabal (center) and colleagues strike a pose.
Royal links golf club is supposed to look familiar.
The course is a collection of holes based on the British Open rota and also features a statue of Old Tom Morris, a tribute to the Swilcan Bridge and a massive claret jug. But don't be surprised to see some less-familiar sights, too--like a leggy brunette in a short skirt and tight shirt.
Monica Echazabal, 32, has been a Par Mate since 2009.
For $225 per Par Mate plus tip (generally another $100), the caddie promises to shave five strokes off your usual score. "But only if you listen to me," Echazabal says. "And sometimes it's difficult for men to listen to women."
Echazabal is one of 50 Par Mates working at Royal Links, Bali Hai and Desert Pines, all owned by Walters Golf. "We're your ambassadors of fun," she says, "and we take that seriously." Which is what you'd expect for almost $100 an hour. (The nearby Rio Secco Golf Club offers a similar service. Its T-Mates charge $200 per caddie, plus tip.)
Par Mates perform most of the typical duties of a caddie. They don't carry your bag--that goes on your cart--but they do clean your clubs, read greens, rake bunkers, repair ball marks and replace divots. Late in the round, when money is on the line, they have been known to strike provocative poses to distract your opponent. Says Echazabal: "We keep the energy up, change the dynamic of the group, and we realize there's an entertainment aspect to it."
She gets the occasional golfer who assumes the course is basically a brothel with bunkers. "Some guys ask me how much it would cost to see my chest," she says. "I tell them this is the town to see bare chests, but right now we're here to play golf. It's a golf course, and there's etiquette. One guy asked if he could climb down into the bunker with me. I said, 'Dude, I will beat you with this rake.' "
As for her game, Echazabal says she can break 100. "Most of my good rounds are at Royal Links," she says, "because I know the shortcuts and the greens."
Want to hire a Par Mate? Sign up at waltersgolf.com 72 hours before the round.