Preserving and Protecting Caddie Programs
Where have all the Caddie Programs gone?
Like many in the golf industry and the entire CaddieNow Executive team, I caddied when I was a teenager at Long Meadow Golf Club in Lowell, MA. Caddying taught me so many things I valued later in my professional career - too many to mention in this short article. Grit, determination, confidence, entrepreneurship, honesty, and the value of connecting with business leaders and friends on the golf course are just to name a few. Years ago I started reflecting on the benefits of walking the golf course with a caddie and started asking myself - why are there far fewer caddie programs today than when I was a kid?
Employee Classification Challenges
Today there are many challenges facing our remaining caddie programs from recruiting and training to efficiently matching supply and demand. We went from historically low unemployment rates to a post COVID-19 world with historically high unemployment rates. There are challenges around booking, scheduling, communicating and paying caddies but all of those challenges pale in comparison to the liability that clubs are exposing themselves to regarding their caddie programs.
Clubs in many states have been forced to react to lawsuits and class actions driven by personal injury lawyers and ‘miss-classified’ caddies. While these lawsuits have been focused primarily in half a dozen coastal states, many new laws and regulations are making their way across the country. So-called ‘ABC’ laws on the books in Massachusetts, California, New York and New Jersey have recently been followed with similar initiatives in States across the country. The focus of these new regulations (i.e. who is an independent contractor vs. employee) has been primarily focused on Gig Economy Companies like Uber or DoorDash - but caddie programs and many other businesses with their heavy focus on the use of IC’s have been caught up in the process.
How Can You Protect Your Club?
We started CaddieNow because we wanted to preserve and protect the tradition of caddying and bring caddies back to the game of golf. With the introduction of new technology, new insurance options, and new pools of labor we know we can keep caddies on the grass and decrease the barriers to clubs starting new caddie programs.
Perhaps the biggest thing we do for clubs - aside from offering more efficient technology options - is providing an umbrella of coverage options to:
Insure the Caddie
Indemnify the Club
Protect the Member
The clubs are presented with options to choose from on a case by case basis, based on the size of their caddie program, state laws, and the risk tolerance of the board. The umbrella includes:
Indemnification - For the Club
General Liability Coverage - For the Club/Members
Occupational Accident Insurance - For the Caddies
We decided when we started CaddieNow that the only way to support the tradition of caddying was to protect clubs, caddies, and members, and thus remove any of the barriers present to starting or maintaining a caddie program. While CaddieNow is not the only player in the market, we are the only player who combines great technology along with a focus on full protection for the clubs. We don’t want to operate in a gray area where you “probably won’t get sued”. We are investing in the partnership with the club - not just providing a tech solution.
What's on your horizon?