The Black Golf Caddy


Forgenerations,countryclubsandtheProfessionalGolfAssociation (PGA) Tour featured white golfers crossing manicured fairways, followed by black caddies carrying their bags. Now most clubs rely on golf carts; and pros on the PGA Tour are attended by highly paid white caddies. The transformation of the golf world has mirrored larger shifts in the American workplace, in which the increased status and increased earnings of skilled work have been accompanied by a de facto “push out” of black workers. In the 1960s, the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour began being more popular and more profitable. Many observers credit this development during this period to Arnold Palmer’s charismatic, swashbuckling style of play and to the growth of televised golf. The increased popularity of the sport involved wide scale marketing of golf ’s big three – Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. By end of the 1960s, Lee Trevino was added to the mix, making the big four. Golf caddying was becoming a respected profession, as the caddies for the big four became famous in their own right. These caddies were Ernest “Creamy” Carolan, Angelo Argea, Afred “Rabbit” Dyer, and Herman Mitchell, caddies respectively for Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, and Trevino. Since at the time most caddies were black, it is not surprising that two of the four – Dyer and Mitchell – were African American.

The 1960s and 1970s launched the glory years for caddying, as caddies benefited from the increasing popularity and hence increasing money prizes available in professional tournament golf. In fact, Alfred Dyer, Gary Player’s caddy, was able to send a son to Princeton University (Sailor 2003), a financial feat unheard of among caddies before the 1960s. However, as the status of caddies increased, the presence of African American caddies steadily decreased.


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