Wednesday, October 4

Looping, Part 4: Birth of the Professional Tour Caddies Association

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ABOVE: Mike Carrick looping for Mark Hensby at the Masters.

Following is another installment in John Coyne's caddie series. Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

INCREASINGLY, ON THE PGA TOUR, the pro-to-pro relationship between two intelligent, educated, business-wise individuals was taking place. By the early 1980s over 25 percent of caddies had college degrees, and about half were married.

There were exceptions. Ian Wright, a 40-year-old Englishman, caddied for the world's premier player, Seve Ballesteros, when a mutual friend recommended him to Ballesteros because he knew Wright was a fine amateur golfer. Now the new caddie tended to come from the same background as the PGA pros. Typical examples were Dan Hyland, who caddied for D.A. Weibring, and Tommy Lamb, who caddied for Jay Haas.

Hyland graduated from the University of Dayton with a business degree.  He met Weibring at the Columbia (Ohio) Country Club, where he caddied as a teenager. When he graduated from college he sent Weibring his resume. Hyland hoped to use his tour experience as a way to get himself known to players' representatives, since he wanted to become a player's agent himself.

Tommy Lamb quit John Carroll University to pick up Haas' bag when he was a junior in college, but planned to return to school for his degree, then  study law. Another caddie, Mark Huber, who worked for both Tom Purtzer and Doug Tewell, graduated from Illinois State. He also wanted to get into golf management, using the contacts he'd make on the tour.

The better life of these caddies in the early '80s was being made possible by the efforts of "Gypsy" Grillo and Mike Carrick. They realized in 1981 that the life of the professional caddie had to improve, and the only way to make it happen was to form their own association—the Professional Tour Caddies Association.

"The PGA has never given us anything," Gypsy stated in 1989 when I interviewed him at Westchester Country Club, "not before the association or after it.

"We deal directly with the tournament site and the people putting on the event. We give out our own I.D. badges, and we are responsible for our members. No caddie is allowed in the association unless he has caddied in 25 tour events. Today we have 140 members, each paying an annual fee of $50."

Being in an association has made it easier for the caddies to get corporate sponsorship. If it wasn't for such corporation help, the association wouldn't be much more than a name. But the group gave the caddies for the first time, an opportunity to speak with one voice.


John Coyne is a bestselling author who has written several books about golf. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

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