I was a caddie, small “c,” in late grade school and high school. Steve Williams is a professional caddie who has made millions of dollars carrying golf bags. There is a huge gap between our experiences.
But one shared truth is that the caddie works for the golfer. As much as TV commentators and other romantics want to portray the golfer-caddie relationship as one of equals, it isn’t. The golfer has the talent that makes the money that pays the caddie. Professional golfers fire caddies. It is rarely the other way around. However you want to look at it, the caddie is subservient.
Williams has a new book coming out that is not flattering of Tiger Woods, for whom he caddied from 1999-2011.
“One thing that really pissed me off was how he would flippantly toss a club in the general direction of the bag, expecting me to go over and pick it up,’’ Williams wrote. “I felt uneasy about bending down to pick up his discarded club – it was like I was his slave.’’
Anyone who has caddied has had his or her golfer flip a club at the bag for the caddie to pick up. Sometimes it’s done in frustration over a bad shot, but usually it’s done because the caddie is busy repairing a divot.
Caddies are in the service industry. It doesn’t make some of the treatment right, but it’s the job. I took the good and the bad and learned from it. I figured out who I wanted to be and who I didn’t want to be.
Williams always has had a huge opinion of himself, and that might explain how he would have the gall to equate slavery with having a golf club tossed near him (especially while talking about a golfer of color). If slavery is getting 10 percent of the more than $70 million Woods made during Williams’ time on his bag, there is only one thing left to be said: Where do I sign up?