The PGA decided to ban the Caddie Races on the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open! The PGA said: “PGA tour officials say they decided to ban the caddie races over safety concerns. In an interview with the Golf Channel, tour officials said “running 150 yards puts caddies at risk for injury. I had caddies come to me at Phoenix and at Colonial saying “this is ridiculous, it’s like we are a carnival show.”” It makes one wonder if this is the real reason.
Having carried a rucksack weighing 60-70 pounds, I can say without doubt that running 150 yards with that much weight is very difficult, possible hazardous, and one of those things I would not voluntarily do. Knowing the difficult and possible dangers, is there an unfair expectation for caddies to perform for the crowd?
Golf, like all other sports, is played for personal pride and entertainment of the fans. The tournament in Phoenix is one of the most popular events on tour partly because of the scoring and mostly because of the fan interaction. Without question, the focal point of fan participation is the 16th hole. Approximately 20,000 fans are packed in like sardines around a 150-yard hole; the electric atmosphere of anticipation rises and crashes like the waves on a beach. The fans love the venue and love the entertainment.
The caddie races were part of the entertainment, but not part of golf. More than likely, the PGA does not want a ‘Happy Gilmore’ atmosphere at other tournaments.
The current culture of golf is mature, calm, and focused. Although there are exciting moments, like Sergio Garcia climbing a tree to hit a shot at Bayhill, they are more highlights than the norm. Not surprisingly, there is a quiet expectation at each event orchestrated by the PGA and not a carnival atmosphere hoped by the fans. The focus is on the players, not the side-show entertainment off the course.
No Caddie Races! Is this really a big deal? Does the PGA have a point? It is difficult to ascertain the real reason for the change, but it appears to have no effect on the entertainment value of the 16th hole. Or does it?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!