I had the opportunity recently to play in my clubs Caddyshack Open. It is an event where the caddies and staff have the opportunity to play in an organized event with their colleagues and club members. This is the first year I have had the opportunity to play in the event and had a wonderful time. It was great to see everyone so relaxed and enjoying themselves. Only in Western PA would the caddies warm up before the match by throwing around the pigskin on the driving range instead of hitting balls or practice putting You have to love it.
We are fortunate enough to still have a caddy program at our club in a time when most golf courses do not. Golf clubs have been eliminating caddies since the seventies when the golf cart burst onto the scene. Golf Clubs around the world cite many reasons for this trend such as; carts speed up play, there are longer walks between greens and tees, carts are less expensive, golfers would rather ride than walk, etc. That is sad because most of us could use the additional exercise and many potential caddies will never be exposed to this great game because of a "cart".
As a young person I had the opportunity to be a caddy and so I really appreciate all they do to help our game. I learned so much about the game as a young man lugging those bags around. I learned the etiquette of the game, important life lessons and had the opportunity to watch some great players. When I was a caddy, the members always used to tell us to fix two ball marks when you walk onto the green. That simple act seems like a small task but it is really a sign of respect. By doing so you are respecting the golf course, the players in your group and future players who will play the hole. You want to leave the course in better condition than you found it. Without having been a caddy it would have probably taken me a long time to learn those basic golf etiquette lessons.
Wikipedia defines a caddy as; In golf, a caddy (or caddie) is the person who carries a player's bag and clubs, and gives insightful advice and moral support. A good caddy is aware of the challenges and obstacles of the golf course being played, along with the best strategy in playing it. This includes knowing overall yardage, pin placements and club selection. A caddy is not usually an employee of a private club or resort. He is classified as an "independent contractor," meaning that he is basically self employed and does not receive any benefits from his association with the club. Some clubs and resorts do have caddy programs, although benefits are rarely offered.
I define the caddy a little differently; A caddie is a person who does carry the player(s) clubs throughout the round. However, he or she is also a friend, confidant, psychiatrist, critic, assistant, instructor and teammate.
We watch the Professional caddies on TV each week assist the professional players during the round. Unfortunatley, because of TV coverage we rarely hear the dialouge between touring pros and caddies. The announcers believe their commentary is much more important than what is being said between caddy and player. However, I believe most fans watching the telecast would much rather hear what is being said on the course in the heat of battle than what a "talking head" has to say. If you think about it what other sport can you watch on TV and you hear what a player is thinking about in the heat of the moment. Without the caddy that would not be possible as the instructors are not allowed to instruct during competition play.
To close, the Caddy is an importnat part of the history of the game. Caddies have been an important part of the history of the game for instance, Eddie Lowry caddying for Francis Ouiment when he won the US Open at age 19. Bruce Edwards caddying for Tom Watson for many years and in the end providing inspiration to all of us. To the favorite caddy at your club who reads the proper break or tells you to hit the extra club. The role of the caddy cannot be overstated and for some of us we wish the "Caddy Program" would come back into vogue and the carts would play less of a role in the game we love.