UN­DER­COVER TOUR PRO

MY CAD­DIE HAS MY BACK, SO I’VE GOT HIS

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents 6/15 - WithMaxAdler

The law­suit that pits cad­dies against the PGA Tour.

My cad­die is part of the law­suit where PGA Tour cad­dies are su­ing the tour over bibs, so I’ve been privy to all the back and forth for the past year and a half. The chest and back of the bib usu­ally go to the ti­tle spon­sor, with the FedEx Cup and PGA Tour lo­gos on the front pock­ets. The cad­dies want a taste of the ac­tion, or at least the right to sell the left breast. The tour runs the pro­gramme that gives cad­dies the op­tion of wear­ing a spon­sor’s logo on their hat, but the top cad­die stands to make only about 11 grand. For what it’s worth, I’ve played Euro­pean Tour events where the bibs had a dozen lo­gos. But rather than dive into the legalese of who owns the mar­ket­ing real es­tate on a per­son’s body in the con­text of in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors and yada yada yada, what it comes down to is this: The PGA Tour could do bet­ter by the cad­dies.

Is their treat­ment bet­ter than 20 years ago? Ab­so­lutely. Is it up to 2015 stan­dards? A lot of th­ese guys lead pretty hard lives, and it wouldn’t cost the tour much to make them a lit­tle bet­ter.

I know what you’re prob­a­bly think­ing: They’re cad­dies! They chose a no­to­ri­ously in­se­cure form of labour. Ev­ery cad­die out here chose to go through life with some­one else’s name on his back. So set up a tent be­hind the scor­ing trailer, throw them some hot dogs and be done with it?

My cad­die has a col­lege de­gree. Last year I paid him $270 000. His travel ex­penses were sig­nif­i­cant. Still, that’s se­ri­ous in­come. I’m glad he can set up his wife and two chil­dren in a nice house not far from a ma­jor air­port. Given what I make, and that he’s right next to me as I’m mak­ing it, that seems fair. Is he in­dis­pens­able? Well, I read my own putts, and any­one with half a brain can pace a yardage. But when the stakes are what they are and I can have only one guy in my cor­ner, my cad­die’s the guy I want. That’s why he’s worth ev­ery penny.

Sure, you’ll see play­ers win with a ran­dom buddy or brother-in-law on the bag. I’ve seen Fred­die Cou­ples shoot 64 with a girl­friend who had no idea how to pull a pin. Play­ers work dif­fer­ently. Webb Simp­son might not know how to take the club back any­more with­out Paul Te­sori stand­ing be­side him. Webb’s a great player, but the fact Paul played on tour lets Webb trust him to a high de­gree, and to­gether they’re a real team.

Which is all to say, be­ing a PGA Tour cad­die is a big­time job. They’re part of the TV show. They’re half the dia­logue that gets picked up on course, and they give in­ter­views af­ter the round. I can’t think of any other line of work where a guy can make half a mil­lion a year but is treated so dis­mis­sively.

My cad­die isn’t al­lowed in the club­house. At PGA Na­tional, cad­dies had to wait in a shed dur­ing a se­vere light­ning storm, which was ab­surdly danger­ous. Euro­pean Tour cad­dies get club­house cre­den­tials. LPGA Tour play­ers get a “buddy badge” to bring in whomever they wish, which is of­ten their cad­die. Nor­mally I eat with my wife or other play­ers, but I’d like the op­tion.

At Tor­rey Pines they ran out of park­ing, and the fix was mak­ing cad­dies park at the glider air­port, which is a 20-minute walk to the first tee. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but th­ese guys need to be on time. Ges­tures of dis­re­spect add up in a work­place. Like the tour won’t grant a cad­die a cre­den­tial to look for work un­less a player has signed for him. “This isn’t a job fair,” one life­long cad­die was told. And back to the bibs: Orig­i­nally all they wanted was a mod­est pen­sion plan and a boost to their health care.

The tour just can­celled the an­nual cad­die meet­ing. I don’t know how the law­suit will play out, but I can’t help but root for the lit­tle guy.

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