As a fan of the PGA Tour, I’ve always assumed that caddies who work for pro golfers in this modern era were well taken care of.

After all, according to the Association of Pro Tour Caddies website, they receive a decent salary ($1200-$3000/week), and get a cut of the golfer’s winnings to boot (5-9% of the purse; 10% when the golfer finishes 1st).

But, earlier this month, more than 75 professional caddies collectively sued the PGA Tour over compensation for advertising on the “bibs” they wear during pro golf tournaments. Complaint: (Golf-Caddies-v-PGA-Tour Complaint)

Specifically, the caddies claimed they have been “unlawfully” forced into wearing bibs with advertising chosen by the PGA Tour, and were precluded from receiving any of the $50 million generated by this type of advertising.

If they refused to serve as these “glorified billboards”, the Tour allegedly made attempts to “interfere” with their relationship with their pro golfers (by trying to get them fired) & engaged in “coercive conduct” as well as threatened retaliation.

The caddies also claimed they were dealt with as “second-class” participants by the Tour on a regular basis and were even mistreated.  The complaint cited examples of how they are only allowed to use portable lavatories during tournaments & have been denied medical benefits and pensions.

When several caddies met with the PGA Tour in the past to discuss these complaints, they were rebuked.  One of the Tour’s executives told them that “the bib is off the table” and “it may not be right, but that is how it has been and how it will be”.

This is all very disappointing to hear.  In fact, that last comment really ticks me off.

It reminds me just how backwards the thinking still seems to be in this “gentlemen’s game”.

Even though caddies were historically treated as just bag carriers and very well may have been, they are essential to the success of pro golfers in this day and age. Many are former players themselves who have knowledge about course architecture, the greens landscape, club selection, and provide mental support to their golfers, among other expertise.

To keep treating these professionals as they had been during a by-gone era and then tell them “that is how it has been and how it will be” is an old-fashioned elitist way of thinking.

Further, if the allegations in the complaint are true, the reprehensible actions the Tour took in order to hoard the profits that were literally made on the backs of those same men is shocking.

I wonder why the Tour didn’t do the right thing and lead by example of how an honorable corporation should be run? Why does it choose to continue not to budge on this issue even in the face of bad publicity?

It certainly doesn’t seem coincidental that within days of the filing of this lawsuit the PGA publicized that St. Andrews had chosen its first seven female members after 260 years of being shunned.

Was it hoping this dispute would slip under the radar in the face of that good news?

Honestly, I don’t see why this isn’t a bigger public issue.

Hopefully, the Tour will come to its senses and do the right thing now & give the caddies the respect and compensation they deserve.

As far as the future goes, if the PGA Tour truly hopes to carry on the traditions of its “gentlemen’s game”, then perhaps it should be setting the ultimate example in how its business is run.



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