This fall, Chris Raggo completed one of his goals; to win the club championship at Bonnie Briar Country Club. A triumphant 2 up win on the 18th green gave Raggo the win at a course he has come to know very well over the years. Though he is now a member at the club, years ago Raggo was introduced to golf, and Bonnie Briar, when he first stepped onto the course as a teenage caddie.
“I didn’t have much interest in golf until I was about 15 years old,” said Raggo. “I was looking for a summer job and my uncle was the Caddie Manager at Bonnie at that time. They had an opening, I got my work papers filled out and started shortly after.”
Raggo’s expectations at the start were reserved. Knowing little about golf and caddieing, he figured he would get a few loops every weekend to make some money.
“Before I knew it, I was doing everything at the club,” said Raggo. “I got experience in the bag room, I was working on the range and I was cleaning clubs in the off hours. When the club got busy I was out on the course working as a caddie.”
Despite being fully immersed in all aspects of the club, Raggo admitted he still didn’t fall in love with golf immediately; that came later when he started to work the range.
“I think I really started to get interested when we had those quiet nights on the range,” said Raggo. “I would take a few demo clubs and go to the back of the range and hit balls back towards the hitting areas. I realized how fun it was and I started to teach myself that way.”
Three years after Raggo started working at Bonnie Briar, he got his first set of clubs. From there, it was impossible to get him off the course.
“I would play every Monday with some friends from work when our course was closed,” he recalled. “From there, it turned into traveling all over the area to play as many public courses as we could.”
By the time Raggo headed off to college at Villanova University, golf had blossomed from a summer job into a full-blown passion. Over the four years he played golf as much as a college student could, while also studying Economics. After graduating in 2012 with a degree in the aforementioned field, Raggo jumped into the Real Estate business.
“I remember after college the job market wasn’t the best,” said Raggo. “I was still in touch with a good amount of people from Bonnie Briar and I would fling my resume over to anyone who would pass it along. My current boss was a member there and even though I didn’t have a strong real estate background, he was willing to give me a shot. That’s how it all started.”
Like many who have worked in the golf industry, Raggo said he wasn’t aware just how many valuable connections he could make when he started. However, he says that now anytime he is playing at Bonnie Briar he encourages interns and young employees to talk to as many people as they can.
“I just know how much it helped me when I was younger so I want to pass that along to as many people as I can,” said Raggo. “I love to chat with the younger caddies and get to know them because if there is anyway I can help I want to be able to pay it forward since everyone was so willing to help me.”
Now that life has come full circle for Raggo and he is an active member at Bonnie Briar, he says it isn’t lost on him just how lucky he is. From getting his first job at Bonnie, to getting his first post-college job through a connection there, the club has meant much more to him than just a place to golf.
“I think a lot of people really like my story. I still see a lot of those same members who I used to caddie for,” said Raggo. “I didn’t start with nothing, but starting from a bottom rung and working my way up so that I can now be a member myself is a rewarding feeling. To be able to do that at Bonnie, which has meant so much to me, makes me feel grateful to be able to be a member there.”
The caddie scholar connection runs deep at Bonnie Briar and Raggo hopes that the club can continue to foster great relationships between members and young caddies. Raggo’s story has come so full circle in fact that the caddie on his bag when he won the club championship was Jack Haley, a current WGACSF scholar himself.