Thursday, December 12

Tribute to Alfred 'Rabbit' Dyer, Hall of Fame Caddie for Gary Player and Others, Dead at 82

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By John Coyne

Bestselling author John Coyne became a caddie at Midlothian Country Club near Chicago when he was 10 and oversaw the caddie yard as a teenager. Learn about his golf novels at JohnCoyneBooks.com.

LAST NOVEMBER 11TH, ALFRED "BIG RABBIT" DYER, the legendary PGA Tour caddie, died from natural causes while traveling by car from Ft. Pierce, Florida to New Orleans. He was 82.

Dyer was one of the last of the big-name traveling caddies  on the PGA Tour; men like Angelo Argea who caddied for Jack Nicklaus and Creamy Carolan, Arnold Palmer's looper. Dyer was also the first black caddie to work at Arizona's Thunderbird Country Club and the first black caddie on the bag of a winner in 1974 when Gary Player triumphed. Caddying for Player, he was also the first American black caddie to carry a bag in South Africa.

Gary Player and "Rabbit" Dyer.
I'll miss Rabbit dearly. He caddied for me for over 20 years and we traveled the world together. Like me he had such a great sense of humor, and in this sense he always reminded me of Muhammad Ali in that he was always ready to laugh, crack a joke or give an hilarious one liner. He had tons of charisma. During our time together we were able to put his son through Princeton University, and which I know made him immensely proud as a father. I'll miss him so much and hope that when we meet again in heaven, he'll be there with a laugh and a smile and then go out and our first round there together.
Gary Player

At the age of 9 Rabbit began to caddie at Metairie Country Club in New Orleans, Louisiana. Coming from a poor family of eight children, caddying was his way of helping his parents.

Today, Dyer is listed by Golfworld magazine as one of the 36 Greatest Caddies of all times.

His first loop for a touring professional was Ben Hogan. Hogan had come to Metairie for an exhibition with Sam Snead and Freddie Haas. At the time Haas was the home pro and Haas assigned Rabbit to Bantam Ben. From then on Dyer caddied for "The Hawk" whenever he came to Metairie.

(It was a priest at Dyer's high school—Saint Joan of Arc Catholic School in Birmingham, Alabamawho nicknamed him "Rabbit" for his ability playing center on the school's basketball team.)

Rabbit's father was also a caddie at Metairie and caddied in 1960 for Gary Player in the New Orleans Open. Two years later, in 1962, Rabbit would caddie for Player when he finished fifth in the tournament. Player gave Rabbit $500.

"I had never seen so much money," Rabbit would tell me, years later.

While Player was Rabbit's first PGA Tour player (after Hogan) that he caddied for, there were other players before he became Gary's regular caddie.

"I worked for Tony Lema when he won his first tournament, the Hesperia Open. I worked for Arnold Palmer, Homero Blancas, Dan Sikes on the regular and senior tours, and Dave Stockton," Rabbit explained on CaddyBytes.

In 1972, when working for ABC television at Oakland Hills Country Club, he talked with Gary about working for him the next week in the World Series of Golf.

"Gary told me that his regular caddie had gone back to South Africa, and if he were to win the PGA that week I would have the bag."

Gary won and Rabbit worked for Player the following week at the World Series, which Gary also won. For the next twenty years, Rabbit had a full-time job as Player's man on the bag.

In his long career as a professional caddie on the PGA Tour, Dyer would bring home over 55 winners. Gary won in South Africa, the British Open, the Swiss Open, the Irish Open. 

Rabbit caddied for Player from 1972 up to 1990, traveling to 10 different countries.

As he says, "If it wasn't for Gary Player I wouldn't have gotten to do all that. Because of him and caddying I was able to put my son through Princeton University. I tell all the young kids today to caddie. Caddying was a great way to grow up, learn the game, stay out of trouble."

After his touring caddie career, Dyer became a founding Professional Caddie Association (PCA) member and first PCA Caddie Ambassador and 2000 Caddie Hall of Fame Inductee.

"Rabbit" Dyer and Dennis Cone.
According to Dennis Cone, founding CEO of the World Caddies Association, "Rabbit was the Caddies' 'caddie.' The last of the big-name traveling caddies from the 1950s. His positive spirit and support for ALL caddies, kids and the game will live forever in the Fairways of Heaven."

To honor Rabbit and all caddies: The Professional Caddie Association (PCA), a 501-C-3 foundation, is starting a scholarship fund in Alfred "Rabbit" Dyer's name for in perpetuity. Donate to the Western Golf Association (WGA) and Caddie Hall of Fame (caddiehalloffame.org).

Donate today and receive a FREE PCA book! 

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