GET INTO GOLF: Breaking down Kuchar’s caddie conudrum |

GET INTO GOLF: Breaking down Kuchar’s caddie conudrum

You hold a fundraising event and contract with an experienced, national event coordinator. Their primary compensation is a percentage of the event’s total revenue, the standard agreement for an event of this size. Unfortunately, as the date draws closer, the event coordinator goes down in a skiing accident and cannot complete their duties.

So, in the time available, you hire a small, local wedding assistant to help you get through the event. They know about the area well, but don’t have the preferred level of expertise.

Rather than a percentage of the event’s revenue, you agree to pay the assistant $100 an hour versus their usual $20 an hour. The assistant is ecstatic and does their best to ensure a good outcome.

The event produces much more than anticipated and an impressive $1.3 million, 10 times the average income goes in to the organization’s coffer.

You pay the local assistant the agreed amount, plus another 20 percent, due to the evening’s success.

When this income becomes public, there is an outcry in the community. Since the event was so profitable, why shouldn’t the local assistant make as much as the national event coordinator?

Welcome to Matt Kuchar’s world. A couple of weeks ago, Kuchar’s regular caddie could not pack the bag and a local caddie was hired. At the beginning of the week a deal was struck. The local caddie, who would generally make $200 a day, was guaranteed $1,000, an additional $2,000 if the player made the cut, and a $1,000 bonus if the player made the top-10 (according to the New York Times).

At week’s end, Kuchar won the tournament and nearly $1.3 million in prize money. Kuchar paid the local caddie the promised $5,000 and everyone’s happy, right?

But wait. Not to fast. Somehow this one week agreement became public information and it was quickly hot off the presses.

For the full-time PGA Tour caddie, every deal between player and looper can be different. Yet, generally, there is a flat fee (to at least cover expenses) and a percentage of the player’s winnings. This percentage will likely range from 5 to 10 percent. In this case, that would translate to approximately $130,000.

Kuchar is a very popular player on Tour. But, the national media jumped on this story (we all love the underdog) and it seemed those familiar “Kuuuucchhh” sounds could turn to “booooo.”

So, do you stand in the ‘a deal is a deal’ camp? Or, do you lean toward the ‘hey, he won the tournament, spread the wealth’ point of view?

There also many variables. Was this caddie chosen by luck of the draw? Was he one of the more reputable caddies in the area with extensive knowledge of the course? Did the caddie actually help Kuchar? This could be through information on the course, reading greens, club choices, etc.

Or, was he drawback for Kucher, even though Kuchar won? Sometimes personalities don’t mesh. Others immediately click. Players and caddies often part ways due to personality differences.

In the end, Kuchar pays the caddie an additional amount of money. The number was not disclosed, but the “word on the street” is a total of $50,000.

By agreement, this was not something Mr. Kuchar was required to do. However, we feel like we have known him as a good guy for years and in our game that still uses words like honor, it might just be the right thing to do.

John Renslow is a PGA Professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.

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