What’s the Difference between a PGA Caddy and a Sign Spinner?

11056894753_e9aaf37db1_k

The answer: One of them gets paid to advertise.

Oh. And it’s not the caddy. Because of this, over 80 professional caddies have joined in a $50 million class action lawsuit against the PGA.

The lawsuit claims that caddies are forced to wear bibs bearing a tournament sponsor’s name and logo without any form of compensation. There’s also a part in the lawsuit that asks for better treatment of caddies from the tour, including things like not being yelled at by security at the 2013 Barclay’s tournament.

The question is, should tour caddies be paid to wear bibs with sponsors logos on them. The answer has to be ‘YES!’

Virtually every golfer on tour sells billboard space on his person. For example, Phil Mickelson has made about $50 million in endorsements alone from sponsors like KPMG and Barclays. There are very few caddies with enough appeal and camera time who can actually earn an endorsement. Mickelson’s looper Jim Mackay happens to be one. Though few and far between, if a caddy like Mackay can compel a company sponsor him, shouldn’t all caddies be compensated for advertisements they don’t voluntarily wear, bibs included?

It’s important to note that caddies aren’t employees of the PGA. Neither are the players. The PGA is an organizer of events and helps to raise millions upon millions for charity each year. (That’s another thing, if golf is all about charity, why rip off the caddies?)

Caddies work for golfers, typically under contracts that see them paid about $1000 to $1500 per week. Some golfers who’ve kept the same caddy for years, like Mark Wilson and Brandt Snedeker, probably pay a little more. On top of that, most caddies are bonused 5% of their players tournament winnings, 7% for a Top 10 finish, and 10% for a victory. It’s quite a commitment to carry a bag around a different golf course each week. There’s the travel, the physical demand, the role of friend/coach/psychologist/servant, and the fact that seldom is there a “home game.”

Being a caddy is a commitment most of us don’t often consider, so for the tour to consider compensating caddies for being the billboards which carry sponsor-paid messaging doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. Golf is a game of honor, after all.

Mind you, as Jason Logan of ScoreGolf points out, if the caddies are successful in their lawsuit, will their award ultimately come out of their own pockets?