Caddies in the rough as virus halts potential branding deals

Friday, April 3rd, 2020 00:00 |
Guido Migliozzi (right) celebrates with his caddie after sinking his winning putt at the 18th Green of the Karen Country Club during the 2019 Kenya Open Golf Championships which is part of the European Challenge Tour. Photo/PD/SPORTPICHA

London, Thursday

Caddies are golf’s unsung heroes but they will never earn the riches made by some of the players and many will struggle during the European Tour suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic, their chairman says.

The pandemic has also brought a halt to conversations that Sean Russell and his association were having with prospective sponsors after he negotiated a groundbreaking agreement with the European Tour.

“There is zero job security,” Russell told AFP. “There is no contract. Some caddies have been sacked the week after a player has won a tournament.

“It is not like a normal job.”

His members over 150 active professional caddies can from this season earn more money through branding on their caps or clothing and in other ways too.

Caddies are generally paid £1,000 ($1,200) per week by the golfer, which can usually be topped up by 10 percent of the prize money earned in a tournament. Travel and hotel expenses then have to be deducted.

The schedule has been heavily disrupted with 12 European Tour tournaments including masters and World Golf Championship events postponed or cancelled.

Caddies are now eyeing the Trophee Hassan II, scheduled to be held in Rabat, Morocco from June 4-7, for a possible resumption of the season.

“At the moment with the stoppage those chaps who caddied for golfers who were successful last year and those who started the season well will be alright,” said Russell, from his home in Newcastle, northeast England.

“But for the others they still have to pay the mortgages, put food on the table and there are bills to be paid.

He said the announcement by Britain’s finance minister last week that the government will cover a percentage of self-employed people’s earnings was good news “but it will still take a couple of months for those measures to come in”.

Russell said members were having to find part-time jobs, even those who would normally earn extra money alongside their caddying by working at exclusive golf clubs. Those clubs are now closed because of the social distancing measures.

“Some are having to do jobs they would not normally be expecting to do at this time of year to make ends meet just about,” he said.

“One lad I heard is delivering parcels.

“It is not unusual in the off-season for some caddies to work for Amazon or as taxi drivers.“However, as we say, being a caddy is a ‘lifestyle not a job’.”  -AFP

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