Professional caddies are banding together, but don't call it a union.
Cofounded by Dean Herden, Gary Matthews and Basil Van Rooyen, the Tour Caddies Association is a new group "representing, providing benefits and advocating for those who carry the bag on professional golf tours worldwide."
“It’s always bothered me seeing caddies waiting in a parking lot the week of a tournament, hoping to land a job,” Herden, who caddies for the LPGA's Hee Kyung Seo, told the Golf Channel. “I’ve seen a caddie who won two U.S. Opens looking for a job in a parking lot. That’s not right. We would like to see the industry professionalized. That’s the idea behind this.”The group retained Michael Marini of Marini Player Management, a financial consulting service for professional athletes, to oversee the association's business operations.
“Everybody in golf is organized now except the caddies,” said Marini. “They’re the last element of the game not organized or standardized ... We are not a union. It’s the furthest thing from our minds. We are not here to organize a labor industry.”Caddies are hired by individual players and are not employees of the Tour, so the formation of a union was "not really possible," according to Marini, but "we're not here to complain about wages or working conditions" anyway. Marini said PGA Tour was "100 percent behind [them]" in their efforts to raise the personal and professional standards of the industry.
For an annual fee of $199, TCA members will gain access to job postings from tour pros looking for caddies and financial services like travel booking, insurance benefits and retirement planning.
In addition to corporate sponsorships, sales of merchandise and fan club memberships, Marini also established the TCA Travel Center as a standalone business to supplement tour caddies' income. When caddies (or golf fans eager to support caddies) book their travel through the association, the TCA gets a commission that flows into the group's profit-sharing system.
"We're trying to make it more profitable to be a caddie," he said. For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.