They don’t swing the club that hits the little white ball toward the tiny hole hundreds of yards away. But an expert golf caddy—also called a looper—can be more than just the person who carries a player’s clubs.
“They’re accomplished sports psychologists, like corner men in boxing,” according to a Slate article that dissected the profession. “Part of their job is to project confidence in their club selection or read of the green, so the player doesn’t second guess himself.”
Despite the role they play, golf caddies employed by members of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) have long felt underappreciated and underprotected in their line of work. That sentiment led to the formation of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was officially announced last week.
The group will represent more than 100 professional loopers who are looking to improve their working conditions and secure group health and retirement benefits.
“We feel we can get more done as a group with one voice,” APTC Vice President Lance Bennett recently told Golf Week. “We’re just trying to better ourselves for the future. This is a long time coming because the [PGA] Tour is big business and the [caddie] profession has changed a lot in the last 30 years. Guys out here are educated and have families.”
The move was prompted by an incident at a PGA Tour event over the summer, during a rain delay.
“This security guy came in, started berating us, asking to see everyone’s ID, and then began kicking out our families into the rain,” APTC President James Edmondson told ESPN. “We all thought, ‘Would they ever do this to the players in their area?’ That’s when we decided to have a meeting.”
A group of caddies began organizing shortly after the event, reaching out for legal representation to the law firm Barlow, Garsek, and Simon, which also represents the Professional Golf Referees Association, according to ESPN. Overall, APTC contacted 200 caddies, and 115 expressed interest in creating the association.
In the months since their initial meeting, the group has elected its board of directors, which includes Bennett, Edmondson, and Joe LaCava—Tiger Woods’ caddy—among several others.
How the group will work with the PGA Tour is yet to be seen, but Edmondson told ESPN that APTC will include an advisory council of PGA Tour players and an associate program for caddies on the Web.com Tour and Champions Tour. Two international caddie advisers from Australia and Europe will sit on the board.
“It’s a new age of caddies. It’s more of a profession. It’s a different breed,” Edmondson told the Golf Channel. “It’s the time now to enhance the profession and make it better for the guys who are coming up behind us.”