DORAL, Fla. – A potentially dangerous situation for caddies last week at the Honda Classic has led to a broader discussion on the PGA Tour about caddie safety.
During one of the numerous storms that forced a Monday finish at PGA National, a picture of the caddie tent was tweeted, creating a social media buzz.
“Sadly it will take a caddie to get struck by lightning and dying before the PGA Tour realizes that we need indoor shelter during storms,” Scott Vail, who caddies for Brandt Snedeker, tweeted last week.
Although caddie facilities vary from week to week, most tournaments use large tents for caddie dining and staging.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the tournaments to provide the facilities. We have guidelines, but that is up to each event,” said Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communication.
Officials at the Honda Classic were surprised by the fallout, pointing out they have an entire hotel at their disposal for shelter during inclement weather and that they were not made aware of the situation until after the fact.
“We evacuated players and caddies and got them off the course and thousands of spectators were removed, safely,” said Ken Kennerly, the Honda Classic tournament director. “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.”
It was a topic that a group of caddies first approached the Tour about in early 2014 and led to the formation of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.
At that meeting Tour officials informed caddies that facilities were up to each tournament, which led officials at the Crowne Plaza Invitational to create an area inside the clubhouse for caddies. Officials at Colonial plan to upgrade those facilities even more this year when caddie dining is moved into the ladies’ locker room.
According to Tour regulations, caddies are not allowed in the men’s locker room during a tournament, but that regulation was altered this year to allow caddies in the locker room “at the end of a player’s week” (either on Friday if the player misses the cut or Sunday) to help their player pack.
This week at Doral for the WGC-Cadillac Championship, caddie hospitality is in two rooms in the Jack Nicklaus Villa; at last year’s Tour Championship accommodations were within the East Lake clubhouse, but according to numerous caddies most weeks – not just at PGA National – they are housed in a tent such as the one that prompted the fallout last week.