In 1938, the PGA Tour made its first charitable donation to the tune of $10,000 at the Palm Beach Invitational. Almost 80 years later, it has surpassed the $2 billion mark. The Tour contributes to a variety of great causes including the growth of the game, the military, education and leadership, just to name a few. Everyone gets involved from the corporate side; from the players to their wives, and even…wait for it…the caddies. As our new association (APTC-Association of Professional Tour Caddies) grows, we’ve started to immerse ourselves into the field of charitable contributions. There are a few individuals, however, who have taken it further to assist those in need.
In 2009, the Scottish Open had just been completed, and while most players and caddies were getting packed up to make the short 90-mile drive from Loch Lomond to Turnberry for the Open Championship, one caddy was going to get there a different way. Renowned and legendary caddy Billy Foster decided to walk…with the bag.
He was working for Lee Westwood at the time but wanted to shine some light on Darren Clarke’s foundation, which supports the international growth of junior golf. He also wanted to promote the Candlelighters Children’s Cancer Trust, which supports families and their children affected by cancer. With it being the start of the highly media covered week, he planned it perfectly.
He left Sunday with a buddy, staying at hotels and finishing each day with a few pints. He completed his trip sometime during the day on Wednesday, despite one poorly navigated detour into a swamp called the Irvine Bogside. He arrived to a fanfare of congratulations from caddies, players and fans, and he gained even higher regard than he already had. The gain for his pain was several blisters on his feet, a stiff neck and nearly $100,000 raised during his walk. He is a true gentleman and as classy and generous as they come.
Freddie Burns is Tom Pernice’s caddy these days, but you might remember him as the enigmatic sideman to Hal Sutton during his heyday. From Shreveport, La., Freddie’s been caddying for decades on the Tour (37 years with Sutton alone) and earlier this year, he was inducted into the Ark-La-Tex Sports Museum of Champions.
Two years ago, Freddie established the Freddie C. Burns Foundation to give back for all the blessings he has received over his career. His non-profit organization supports the advancement of junior golfers by providing academic scholarships in Louisiana to allow them to be successful members of their community. It also assists homeless veterans, senior citizens and domestically abused women and children to help them become reestablished back into normalcy. His sentiments are that if you’re helping people, you’re doing the right thing, and it feels good to help those in need.
As the APTC establishes itself in the future, there’s no doubt in my mind that we will continue to move forward to help others in need. Right now, the work we’ve done with the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis has been successful, but more can be done. If we follow in the footsteps of Billy Foster and Freddie Burns, we can all make a difference. Let’s just not follow Billy’s footsteps into the Irvine Bogside.
Chris Mazziotti is a veteran Tour caddy of more than 20 years. He currently loops for Paul Goydos. He has worked all four majors on the PGA Tour, and has caddied for players such as Brian Henninger, David Gossett, Brandt Jobe and others. Mazziotti currently resides in Milwaukee, Wis. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.