Inequality, as I am learning, is growing in our society, sometimes coincidentally, sometimes systematically. This blog is about the caddies on the European Tour. I do not believe they are necessarily victims of a calculated effort on anyone’s part, but it exists, and I would like to raise awareness on the matter as I feel their voices are not always heard.
Two weeks ago at the Czech Masters, our players lounge was under the same roof as the caddies lounge. That’s about where the similarities end unfortunately. While we tucked into some organic chicken with vegetables and pasta, free of charge, the caddies were dishing out their own money for sausages and cheese! This pissed me off on so many levels. At what point do the Tour, or the promoters of the event think it is fair for caddies to be paying for their food (and water) when the players, who let’s be honest, are by contrast considerably wealthier, get theirs for free. Admittedly this doesn’t happen at every tournament, although the same has here at the KLM. I was told that at the Made in Denmark event, the caddies were treated extremely well and given the same food as the players. This should be the case at all events.
This isn’t the only problem the caddies face on tour. It’s worth mentioning that caddies and players don’t generally sign written contracts with one another. I have been told of a few examples where a player and a caddie have agreed a contract, but that’s quite a rarity. Imagine going to work in a precarious and volatile environment, without having the basic security of a contract that at least guarantees you work for the near future? For those unfortunate people who are on zero-hour contracts, they will know how it feels. In some cases a player hires a caddie and sacks him the next week. I think it should be mandatary that every player signs a contract with his caddie, for a minimum of 3 months, therefore allowing the caddie to make travel arrangements without the fear of being stung. A trial term could be put in place, enabling the player to have at least one tournament to see whether it could work.
These are basic rights. The problem is that caddies aren’t legally a part of the European Tour. And because of the opaque nature of the relationship currently held between player and caddie, they are in a way, like dark matter; essential yet suppressed. Essential because they are required to be present at all times with any player competing, as well as being forced to wear bibs that fundamentally act as free advertisement for the sponsors.
I know some of the caddies have voiced displeasure at the way they are being treated and I’ve said to Jamie that I think he should become part of the caddies committee, as he like me, thinks change is required. I personally think the European Tour should bear the weight of the changes that will hopefully come, by either subsidising food for the caddies, or demanding that the promotor provides adequate sustenance from Monday to Sunday. Either that, or the players pay for it. By adding €20 to our entry fees each week, that, I imagine, would go a long way towards helping to pay for the caddies meals. That would equate to roughly €3,000 extra each week.
The caddies are aware that for these changes to be made, enough of them will need to come together and form some sort of union or agreement whereby they all buy into it. I would support them and I know other players would too.