Caddies deserve recognition at the Olympics
Golf is in the Olympics for the first time in 112 years. Of course, each of the players will have their own caddy. It’s not a choice – they’re required by the International Golf Federation to do so. However, the IGF and the International Olympic Committee do not recognizes the caddies as part of an Olympic team, which means that they’re not going to get a medal.
Er, what does a caddy do anyway?
A caddie carries the clubs, cleans them after each shot, replaces divots and rakes bunkers. Sure, but they also do a whole lot more. Prior to the tournament the caddie will walk the course, check yardages, identify any “danger” areas to avoid, check the slope and breaks of the green, check weather patterns, prevailing wind direction, etc. They collect this information to help make informed decisions to the player during the tournament.
During tournaments players often ask their caddie for advice on which club to use in a given situation. And crucially, they help players “read” the greens – figuring out which way the slope goes and how fast they should hit the shot. Two heads are always better than one and all that. According to Danny Willett’s caddy Jonathan Smart this amounts to a saving of one or two shots a round. “It’s quarter shots, half a club here, margins all the way round.”
Many tournaments are won or lost by what happens inside a player’s head. (Jack Nicklaus once said that the most important six inches in golf are those that lie between the ears) A good caddie helps keep a player’s mind focussed, and their emotions in check, so in a sense they’re a bit like a coach.
But coaches don’t get medals…
Coaches at the Olympics don’t get medals. Even the basketball and hockey coaches who arguably have a bigger role than a caddy can make key substitutions during a game, call match winning moves, provide inspiring team talks etc. If they don’t get medals then surely the caddies shouldn’t either? Well, maybe the answer is that they should get medals too. The coaches and trainers of a winning NBA team get championship rings along with their players, and the coaches and managers of a winning football team get the same medals as their players too.
And what about the cox in rowing?
Of course the caddie doesn’t actually swing the club, but then again the cox in a rowing boat doesn’t actually row the boat either but they still get a medal. So what is it that they actually do? Well, they keep the boat going straight, provide information on who’s behind and by how much and provide moral support and encouragement. That sounds frighteningly similar to the role of a caddy.
I suspect part of the reason that caddies aren’t going to get medals is because lots of the caddies are a different nationality to their player e.g. Martin Kaymer is from Germany and his caddie Craig Connelly is from Scotland. So if Martin won gold and Craig were to get a medal too, would this count towards the Team GB haul? Messy. So what if they insisted that caddies had to be from the same country as their player? This also gets a little awkward, as most players have long standing relationships with their caddies and the IOC wouldn’t want to create another excuse for players to drop out of the Olympics.
Regardless of whether caddies get medals or not, it does seem wrong that they aren’t going to receive any form of recognition – even medal-winning horses receive rosette’s. A sensible compromise would have been to award the caddies of the top 3 golfers with an “Olympic Diploma”. Believe it or not, these are given to top 8 finishers in every tournament at the Olympics, but unfortunately the IOC has confirmed that caddies aren’t eligible to receive these diploma.
PS: We at Wyldsson believe that the caddies of the medal-winning golfers deserve more recognition. Join our petition to get them Olympic Diplomas.
The rules regulating caddies as put forth by the International Golf Federation, golf’s official Olympic organization:
All athletes in the Olympic Games shall employ caddies for all practice and competition rounds. A caddie is not required to be of the same nationality as the athlete he/she is employed by. Payment of the caddies is the sole responsibility of the athlete and they shall be paid promptly. The IGF assumes no responsibility for the payment of the caddies. The fee is to be resolved prior to the competition between the athlete and caddie. In the event of illness or injury to a caddie during the round, the athlete may replace the caddie with anyone who is properly accredited for field of play access.
Athletes shall be responsible for the conduct and behaviour of their caddies at the Olympic Golf Competition and subject to penalty for any breach of the rules by their caddie as detailed in the Rules of Golf. Caddies are not eligible to receive a medal/diploma.Caddies shall adhere to these IGF Olympic Golf Regulations and its appendices.