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  • Alistair Tait

Just rewards for St Andrews caddies

St Andrews Caddie Master Fraser Riddler deserves a medal. How many would have thought the hardship fund he set up for the men and women who caddie over the courses at the Home of Golf would actually meet its target? How many actually cared?

Quite a lot, it turns out.

Riddler launched a go fund me page for St Andrews caddies back in April when he realised coronavirus was potentially going to make life hard for many of them. At the time he wrote:

“The caddies who regularly stride the fairways at St Andrews Links are among the worst affected.
“With no play possible for the foreseeable future and international travel set to be badly affected for the remainder of the summer season, caddies’ livelihoods are being seriously impacted. There is concern for the financial hardship many caddies might face due to the course closures."

Riddler set up the go fund me page so that

“Any monies donated will be used to assist caddies who regularly work the fairways of the courses at St Andrews Links and who are in need or face financial hardship and who apply for assistance."

He had a modest goal in mind when he set the page up. His target was just £20,000. He’d raised £8,788 when I wrote about it. Did he reach that target? No.

He smashed it!

The caddies formed a guard of honour on the Old Course on the final day of last week’s Royal & Ancient Golf Club Autumn Meeting to celebrate reaching more than £100,000, money that will help those who saw a loss of income during the worst days of the pandemic. Riddler said:

“As soon as we established the fund in April we were incredibly touched by the response, both close to home and abroad.
"The caddies are incredibly grateful to everyone for their support, including the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (The R&A), the Links Trust and participants from every club in St Andrews in the recent Town Match.
"The caddies wanted to recognise the generosity, not least of the membership of the R&A, but golfers around the world by forming a guard of honour today."

I had a few private messages when I wrote about this initiative in April. Quite a few were negative about the possibility of Riddler reaching his target. I was also a bit pessimistic. As I wrote then, caddies rank right up there with greenkeepers when it comes to lack of recognition. Yet while greenkeepers were allowed to work during the pandemic, caddies were forced out of work through no fault of their own. Many probably didn’t qualify for government help due to the itinerant nature of their work. So it’s great to see such an outpouring of generosity towards them.

There are just over 200 caddies who work the St Andrews courses. They add greatly to the experience of playing the links of the auld grey toon, especially for those playing the Old Course for the first time. They deserved to be looked after.

I’m not sure how the Queen’s honours list works, but if anyone deserves to be nominated for a gong then Riddler, who has been caddie master since 2016, surely has to be on the shortlist?

#JustSaying: “Caddies are breed of their own. If you shoot 66, they say, ‘Man, we shot 66!’ But go out and shot 77 and they say, ‘Hell, he shot 77!’’ Lee Trevino

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