Caddies send letter to Finchem requesting clubhouse access

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DORAL, Fla. – Following a lightning storm last Saturday at the Honda Classic that led some caddies to “cower” in a temporary structure, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies sent PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem a letter on Tuesday requesting a review of the circuit’s regulations that prohibit caddies from clubhouses.

“APTC formally requests that the Tour require each host organization to provide safe, commodious, clean and convenient accommodations for all caddies and immediately repeal any and all rules and regulations that prohibit caddies from entering the clubhouse,” read the letter, which was signed by APTC attorney Christian Dennie.

According to a Tour spokesman, caddie hospitality is provided by individual tournaments and Honda Classic tournament director Ken Kennerly told GolfChannel.com this week that his team is reviewing its evacuation plan and wasn’t made aware of the unsafe conditions until after the fact.

“We evacuated players and caddies and got them off the course and thousands of spectators were removed, safely,” Kennerly said. “We will have a more comprehensive evacuation plan next year involving the caddies and this has never been an issue. We will make sure we review it.”

The incident at PGA National added to a growing discord between the caddies and the Tour following the filing of a lawsuit in U.S. District Court last month. The lawsuit seeks funding for a caddie retirement fund and health insurance based on caddies’ wearing bibs, which generate funds from tournament sponsors.

Some tournaments, like the Crowne Plaza Invitational and Tour Championship, have moved caddie hospitality into clubhouses, but Tour-issued caddie credentials do not include access to clubhouses during tournaments and according to the circuit’s regulations “caddies shall not enter the clubhouse unless properly credentialed, except when they are immediate family and accompanied by the player.”

“Caddies, for reasons that escape logic and fairness, are either provided no shelter or are pushed to temporary shelters with apparently little thought given to their safety,” the letter read.

Relations between the Tour and caddies have cooled since a group of more than 80 caddies filed the class action lawsuit last month, with the Tour recently cancelling the annual caddie dinner and quarterly meeting that was scheduled for next week at the Valspar Championship.

“It’s my understanding there were some communication that said the Tour is not going to have any formalized meetings with the caddies while there is a lawsuit,” Dennie told GolfChannel.com.