12:45 pm Thoughts on the Golf Industry, Minorities, Caddies
I don’t know enough about ultra-elite golf courses to know if caddies are viable there or not, but I do know they have little chance anywhere else. It’s a hassle to deal with other people, truth be told; we like pumping our own gasoline, going to ATM machines, using self-checkout at retail stores. Also, when four coworkers get together for a Saturday morning round, they want to make crude jokes about people at their office without worrying about four strangers (the caddies) repeating any of it.
Was it always like that? When did caddies even begin? Didn’t people carry their own clubs in the early days in Scotland, and don’t people in the U.K. still primarily use pull-carts today? At any rate, we know (at the least) that there were caddies at the elite golf courses at one point, but there no longer are. Electric riding carts eliminated them.
Without checking the exact date and number, I can say that eight PGA Tour players in 1975 were African American, many of whom had links to caddying. (Hogan and Nelson also came from the caddy ranks.) Today there is one, with another (Joseph Bramlett) on the web.com.
Now, here are two narratives; one was very public and a source of great pride, one was invisible:
- Tiger Woods’s great success at golf will encourage minorities to take up the game, eventually changing the way the game looks (i.e., more black golfers) at its top levels.
- We the Golf Industry can make more money and get rid of a lot of headaches by replacing caddies with electric riding carts. This will discourage minorities from taking up the game, eventually changing the way the game looks (i.e., fewer black golfers) at its top levels.
Reality always tops wishful thinking. There was little substance to #1; the game was changed in a big way by #2. The first narrative made people feel good but had no substance. The second wasn’t even considered; it happened because of dollars and cents, along with society’s growing comfort with DIY.
I find all of that interesting on its own, but there is a “moral to the story” as well: Every time you hear someone in the golf industry wax poetic about “growing the game,” you should realize their concern for the future is pretty much the same as that of a carnival barker urging you to toss rings around pegs to win a teddy bear.
And even if they — the “grow the game” mouthpieces — did have the best long-term interests of the game at heart, it’s unlikely they would actually steer the game in the right direction. People truly believed Narrative #1, and no one even considered Narrative #2.
5:30 am Update: Coverage has begun! Justin Rose with an early move — 4-under through eight holes — is tied for the lead. Dubuisson is looking to get back into contention, going 3-under through nine.
4:30 am Ole Lanny woke up in the middle of the night with a severe headache. That’s the bad news. The good new is twofold: Tylenol and Advil seem to have helped, and I’ll likely be awake for the start of the Scottish Open coverage. Now would be a good time to check the Scottish leaderboard. Notable names among the leaders:
- Alexander Levy: His name seems to perpetually be on the leaderboard. He’s OWGR #63. I’m sure jalnichols would consider him unworthy.
- Shane Lowry: He’s playing well these days. Growing the lumberjack beard was a good move; it gives him a distinctive appearance.
- Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler: Well, well, lookie here. These two Americans certainly spice up the leaderboard. Matt Kuchar is contending, too.
- Graeme McDowell, Emiliano Grillo: Two favorites of mine.
This tourney is looking pretty darn decent. Must have a decent strength of field, too. Here’s a stat Justin Ray would never tweet: This Scottish Open is equal in strength to the two most recent PGA Tour events combined. jalnichols must be in a “Does not compute, does not compute, does not compute…” loop.
I’m way more into this event than I was yesterday. Maybe getting relief from the headache has made the world seem sunnier.