The Payment of Golf Caddies G OLF clubs can be divided
into two categories— those patronized by the well-to-do player, who expects .to find a plentiful supply of caddies when he and his friends wish to play ; and the more remote and smaller clubs patronized, by the less , wealthy, where members carry their own The' writer who started the recent correspondence in the Spectator on the payment of golf caddies was evidently not thinking of the smaller clubs ; his remarks were addressed to the well-to-do members of many clubs in Southern England. With all due deference to Mr. J. H. Taylor—to whom all golfers owe such a debt for his espousal of golf for the poor man —and others, we think that there is reason for grave dissatisfaction with the status and payment of caddies on many courses. Granted that the caddie is often an Iihmaelite, that he is possessed of the " casual labour." mentality, and, as the secretary of the North Berwick GOlf Club tells us, that he is " a man by .hiMself " who refuses any other job.
Nevertheless, conscientious golfers—and there are many of them—are genuinely disturbed by the existing condition of affairs. The present writer belongs to several clubs in the Home Counties, and at none of the clubs to which he belongs did the caddies during the past winter make anything like a living wage for:weeks on end. Golfers eitheiremained by their firesides, escaped to sunnier climes, or indulged in other forms of exercise. With certain exceptions, such as paper-selling and delivering parcels, as Mr. Taylor points out, caddies have just to grin and bear it and look forward to better times when the sun shines and the call of the links lures forth the hibernating golfer.
Several letters tell us that many golf clubs would be unable to pay a regular fee to the caddies .employed, and that the caddieS would refuse to be tied down. Mr. Taylor speaks of the caddies who like to go away with their local professionals to big meetings. But the number of such lucky ones forms but a small proportion of the total number employed. As we have said, our remarks are only addressed to the committees of golf clubs pat- ronized by the well-to-do, and there are many of them in Great Britain. The problem which confronts us is, whether well-to-do golfers are justified in insisting on a supply of caddies whenever they take it into their heads to play. Anyone who seriously suggests that all golfers. should carry their own clubs is ignoring facts. The vast majority of golfers regard caddies as an indispensable adjunct to the game, and so long as they can afford them they have no intention of doing without them. In most forms of contract there are obligations on both sides. The employer undertakes to give regular wages for specified services ; . not so in golf. The obligations are mostly one-sided. The employer can turn up at the scene of activity, as often or as rarely as he likes, but he always expects to find an efficient and waiting employee without whose help the game loses much of its charm.
We do not forget that as a class caddies may be work- shy, slack, feckless, and improvident. But what is there to attract any self-respecting individual to serve as a caddie apart from a liking for the game and the open-air life on the links ? To find a way out of present conditions is not easy, but we would make:some concrete suggestions. The membership fees of the more prosperous clubs should be increased by a sufficient fee to enable a minimum number of caddies to receive 'a regular weekly wage 'all the year. The fee per round could he reduced consider- ably as a. result. A scheme of this kind is already in force at some clubs. A Caddie Benefit Fund should be started by all clubs. The status of the caddie could be improved by grading, as is already done in some cases. And finally a serious attempt should be made to alter the present " blind ;alley " nature of caddying.
In future no able-bodied man over -twenty-one and under, say, fifty, unless he has a pension or is unable to work indoors for reasons of health, should be employed as a caddie. This proposal would not, of course, apply to existing caddies. Thus by degrees as the elder men dropped out the work of carrying clubs would become a career only for youths, old men, men with pensions, or those for whom open air is essential. Despite the diffi- culties much might be done to fit the young caddie for a useful career when he reaches the age of twenty-one. Golf in its proper place is a splendid game and brings healthy enjoyment to thousands of the better-off sections of the community. Golf is unlike many other games in that it necessitates a large army of satellites for its full enjoyment.
We do not know what Great Britain's caddie population is, but it must be considerable. If the caddies were better organized they would insist on receiving fair treat- ment. Cannot golfers as a class, just because caddies are unable to speak for themselves, alter a state of affairs which they must all regard with dissatisfaction ?