Policy board directors looking into caddie safety issues

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PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Caddies and the media aren’t the only ones talking about caddie safety and access to clubhouses during PGA Tour tournaments.

The four player directors on the PGA Tour policy board have been trading emails since a group of caddies weathered a storm in a tent during the third round of the Honda Classic. The incident became a social media talking point and sparked a conversation among the player directors.

“We’ve been talking about how we approach this and what’s the right way to do it?” Jason Bohn said on Monday at the Valspar Championship. “Sometimes tournaments are limited with space but we all agree there needs to be a contingency due to inclement weather.

“They need to have a safe space to go. ... I think there are some things that will change and that will happen. I definitely believe there isn’t one player who doesn’t want his caddie in a safe place.”

Three of the Tour’s four player directors – Harrison Frazar is not playing this week’s event – said they would support caddies having access to clubhouses if room allows.

“I don’t have a problem with the caddies being inside the clubhouse. I don’t think anybody wants someone put in a dangerous situation,” Bo Van Pelt said.

Caddie hospitality is the responsibility of each tournament, although Tour regulations state, “caddies shall not enter the clubhouse unless properly credentialed, except when they are immediate family and accompanied by the player.”

But Tour-issued caddie credentials don’t allow access to clubhouses, a Catch-22 commissioner Tim Finchem acknowledged needs to be addressed.

“Our people are looking at that situation,” Finchem said on Sunday at Doral. “I did not know that that regulation is in place. We typically have vehicles lined up to get players off the golf course, things like that should apply to caddies as well.”

The policy board is scheduled to meet next week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but the issue will not be on the agenda. Changes to Tour regulations must first be addressed by the Player Advisory Council, which is scheduled to meet in April at the Zurich Classic.

All three player directors confirmed, however, that the issue will be addressed.

“There’s just not, logistically, enough room for another 150 people [inside the clubhouse]. We have to figure something out in terms of safety. There needs to be a better situation in terms of safety,” Mark Wilson said.

“If there is enough room I don’t have a problem with it. This is a week, for example, where Innisbrook [host of the Valspar Championship] has so much space if there is a crazy storm to let them come in and hang out.”

The board approved a measure for this season that allows caddies into the locker room on Fridays, if their player misses the cut, and Sundays to help pack.