Informed by some codger sensibilities, the PGA Tour went and banned all caddie races, one of the untraditional and unorthodox wrinkles at some of the more entertaining annual stops on the rota (Colonial and TPC Scottsdale). It was a puzzling decision, that could only invite scorn.
The reason for the ban was safety, which invites ridicule along with the scorn. Here's Tour exec. Andy Pazder to Rex Hoggard last August:
"We have advised the folks at Colonial and out in Phoenix to discontinue the caddie races. It was a situation where we developed a little concern about caddies' safety. Running 150 yards puts caddies at risk for injury."
Golf already gets a bad enough rap, and if running 150 yards is a legitimate injury concern, it's probably best left unarticulated. This video from last year's Waste Management Phoenix Open, the most famous and rowdy caddie race arena, is about as dangerous as it can get (it's also worth noting that the two gladiators in this dangerous combat are brothers Kip and Brett Henley):
Caddies can be an under appreciated group. They're in the process of building a union, so they can advocate for retirement and healthcare benefits. If they asked for for a ban, then the Tour is absolved a bit, even though that won't go noticed by the grumbling public. But the races are a voluntary exercise -- a caddie doesn't need to take off to entertain the raucous and drunk crowd at No. 16, and many don't engage.
So what are the people at Colonial, where I sat in on the races last May, and TPC Scottsdale going to do to "discontinue" the races? It seems like something that's hard to legislate. The races sprung up and became popular from the gallery gambling on mostly unknowing loopers, much like the side bets in baseball about the ball landing on the mound at the end of an inning. And so this was an announcement that probably caused a stir, but won't stop the actual purpose of the "races," which was gambling on who will get to the green first. So this weekend, enjoy your caddie races with a little less running, drunk bros of Arizona.