To: Golf Industry
From: Caddie Coalition

Caddies Will Continue Carrying the Game Post COVID-19

In these unprecedented times, several of the leading organizations representing caddies have come together to form a coalition to help grow golf, assist caddies and assure new best practices towards health and safety.   We know that social distancing is a mandate – but we continue to strongly believe that the game of golf with a caddie or forecaddie is simply a better game of golf. Now, caddies across the country need more support than ever. 

While the country is reeling from the global pandemic known as Coronavirus, the golf industry has been struggling.  While many golf courses have remained opened and become a refuge for golfers in a time of national crisis, most if not all caddie programs have been temporarily disbanded.  Tens of thousands of caddies have abruptly been thrust into the unemployment line with no apparent end in sight. The members of some clubs have stepped up with donations and support for GoFundMe pages but many caddies are still struggling.  

While many jobs in golf come with the salary or fringe benefits of employment, caddying has traditionally been focused on self-employed adults, summer jobs for teens, or side hustles for gig economy workers.  During this time of high unemployment, caddying provides an incredibly important opportunity for teens and adults to earn money while being outside in wide-open spaces getting exercise and meeting great people.  

These challenges come at a time when golf is expected to see a dramatic increase in walking and a focus on health and wellness.  Taking a caddie improves the quality of the golfer’s game, promotes walking and exercise, helps speed the pace of play, but most importantly it puts the golfer in a position to help people: whether it is a young person or a member of the club community.   As social distancing begins to wind down, our coalition wants every golf course to seriously consider making the re-establishment of its caddie program a top priority. This coalition has come together to help every golf facility to find the right caddie program that works for the facility, their members or customers, their caddies and their community. 

 Some adaptive measures that should be considered:

      1) Electronic Payments – our society is quickly going cashless, so too will caddie payments to avoid both the need for cash, and the challenges associated

      2) Virtual Check-in – reduce wait time on property, and increase social distancing

      3) Wearing gloves – to ensure maximum protection against transmitting germs or exposure

      4) Forecaddies – support multiple golfers with yardages, finding lost balls and reducing common touch points on items like the flag, rakes, and divot mix.

      5) Group Caddie – A new concept championed by CaddieU in Minnesota, focused on providing one or two caddies stay with the group, may drive carts (no riders), maintain social distancing,  help find golf balls, shoot yardages, replace divots, repair ball marks, and may read greens.  Group caddies do not carry or clean clubs.

      6)  On course changes - Golf courses have removed rakes, divot mix, and ball washers from courses and strongly discouraged the use of golf carts with two players.  All carts must be given special cleaning before and after each round. 

      7)  Online Caddie Education - Better caddies mean better golf rounds.  The coalition will be working to provide complimentary online education videos to help all caddies learn new  procedures and review best practices from the past. 

These and other best practices will lead to a new view of the role of the caddie, and how he or she can add to the experience for the player and the group.

Here are two things you can start to do right now to support your caddies;

    • Start a GoFundMe or similar fundraising effort to support your caddies during the next few weeks or months without loops.  Several Clubs in LA have done as highlighted in the following article.  
    • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a new provision in the CARES act recently passed by the US Congress and signed into Law last week.  The program allows for “GiG” workers of self-employed individuals (i.e. caddies) to apply for unemployment benefits at a federal and state level despite not being “employees”.  You can find more information on the program in the following article.

If you have questions on how to implement any of the actions or best practices listed above, please contact any of the caddie organizations listed below.

David Cavossa
703 380 0589

Mark Haugejorde