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  • Alistair Tait

St Andrews caddies need our help

There are two groups of people in golf who don’t get the credit they deserve: greenkeepers and caddies. I fear for caddies right now.

At least a lot of greenkeepers are still working, keeping courses maintained until this nightmare ends and we can get back to playing the game we love. The same can’t be said for those who make their living humphing golf bags for players often less skilled than themselves.

It’s why I’ve donated to the go fund me page for the St Andrews caddies. I know many of us have done our bit by digging into our pockets to support charities at this time, especially those that serve the NHS. However, spare a thought for that group of people who make a round at the Home of Golf a far richer experience.

St Andrews Caddie Master Fraser Riddler has created a go fund me page to help those that work the courses at the Home of Golf. Riddler has set a target of £20,000. As I write, he has reached £8,788. As Riddler notes:

“The caddies who regularly stride the fairways at St Andrews Links are among the worst affected. Caddies have been part of the fabric of golf in St Andrews for almost as long as the game has been played here. There are references to caddies dating back as far as 1691 at the Home of Golf, and through to the modern day they continue to make a meaningful contribution to the enjoyment of the game by golfers of all ages and abilities.
“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. With this in mind, many have indicated they would like to offer help and support to the caddies during this difficult period.
“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. Please note that this account is being operated by Fraser Riddler as an individual and is not linked to St Andrews Links Trust. 100% of all funds raised will be distributed to St Andrews caddies.”

My golf writing career has been made richer by the relationship I’ve had with many caddies over the years. In my opinion, the European Tour has the best in the business.

Every two years we talk about team spirit in the Ryder Cup, the intangible that has helped Europe overcome better U.S. teams to win Sam Ryder’s coveted chalice. Never underestimate the caddies’ role in those victories. It’s why European captains have made sure they are treated with as much respect and inclusion in team matters as the players, why they’ve publicly acknowledged their roles in victory speeches.

That professionalism that exists on European fairways also exists at St Andrews, Indeed, anyone who plays the Old Course for the first time, perhaps any time, without a caddie, comes away with a lesser experience than they would had they taken a caddie. As Dai Rees once said:

“Caddies are a breed unto themselves and they certainly earn their wage for humping this lot around four miles of land.”

Horace Hutchinson once went further. As far back as 1899 he said:

“It is probable that no sport exists in the world today or ever did exist in which the services of a paid assistant are an essential as in this national game in Scotland.”

So, if you can spare some change for those that makes golf at St Andrews a far richer experience then please do so. After all, the St Andrews caddies are worth far more than just £20,000.

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