What you need to know:
- The Union plans to engage the Ministry at the end of this month to discuss the possibility of the caddies getting back to the golf courses to work
- However realising that the caddies were going to go through a rough period given that their source of income had been taken away, the Union negotiated with the Health Ministry for them to be allowed as ball spotters usually refereed to as “forward caddies’’
- In the professional golf tours such as the European Tour, PGA Tour of America and the Sunshine Tour, pros have been allowed to use their caddies who are usually contracted employees
The agony of golfers carrying their own bags during the on-going club events may come to an end soon if the Ministry of Health will assent to a request from the Kenya Golf Union (KGU).
The Union plans to engage the Ministry at the end of this month to discuss the possibility of the caddies getting back to the golf courses to work. Outgoing KGU chairman Anthony Murage says the caddies are major stakeholders in the game of golf, and being away for the past five months has directly affected their lives through the loss of income even though a number of clubs have been assisting them by donating food items and cash.
“Most of us as clubs came together to raise funds to assist our caddies through the provision of basic groceries. This is in addition to encouraging our members to directly assist their regular caddies as consistently as possible. I believe this has gone a long way in assisting caddies who are also major stakeholders in our sport,’’ explained Murage.
This followed the closure of caddie services by the Ministry of Health a few months ago because of the Covid-19. However realising that the caddies were going to go through a rough period given that their source of income had been taken away, the Union negotiated with the Health Ministry for them to be allowed as ball spotters usually refereed to as “forward caddies.’’
This was agreed by the ministry given that Covid-19 mitigating protocols were being observed in the process of ball spotting. There is however a big difference between ball spotting and caddying. A ball spotter’s role is that of showing the player the location of his or her ball, while caddying involves the caddie cleaning the players' clubs, balls and giving the player the club of his or her choice during the course of play.
It means, the caddie and his player will be closer most of the time in the course of the round which takes about four hours for an 18-hole round and about two hours for a nine-hole play. In the professional golf tours such as the European Tour, PGA Tour of America and the Sunshine Tour, pros have been allowed to use their caddies who are usually contracted employees.
Just like the players, the caddies must be Covid-19 negative during the events, meaning they will have to go through the Covid-19 procedures before they embark on their work. That will be the case during the Magical Kenya Open at Karen Country Club from November 12 to 15. It will also be the case during the KCB Karen Masters also to be held at Karen in December or early next year.
On the use of the caddie services for the Karen Masters, International Golf tournaments chairman at Karen Country Club Andy Watt, had no idea yet what the rules will be. The international tours use a bio-secure bubble but players travel with their caddies. Watt says the management will do what is safe.
It is probably easier to assign caddies for a professional player during events such as the Magical Kenya Open or the Karen Masters since a pro uses the same caddie throughout the tournament while in the club or amateur events, not many club members have permanent or regular caddies, hence the chance of a player using a different caddie in every different event.
On the other hand, the KGU boss Murage says clubs will be responsible for the Covid-19 testing of their caddies if the Ministry of Health eventually gives the go-ahead for caddie services to resume. Most of the 18-hole clubs have between 100 to 160 registered caddies though the number sometimes goes up depending on the number of players playing particularly in big and popular tournaments.