SPORTS

Caddies Carrying Fiji International

Alongside course superintendents, caddies might be the unsung heroes of professional golf and that’s as true at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways as any other top tier tournament.
25 Jul 2018 10:00
Caddies Carrying Fiji International
Caddies during the 2017 Fiji International at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course. Photo: Fiji International

Alongside course superintendents, caddies might be the unsung heroes of professional golf and that’s as true at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways as any other top tier tournament.

When the professional golfers arrive at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course for the event tri-sanctioned by the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, European Tour and Asian Tour, many will be without fulltime caddies but the people of Fiji will, as they have done since 2014, step in to provide a helping hand.

Each year around 50 Fijians from almost every age range imaginable offer their services to those professional golfers requiring a caddy and it’s a program that has proved popular among players and locals alike.

For many, carrying the bag is their first introduction to the game of golf and that’s where Fijian Professional Emani Ratumayale comes in.

Emani takes on the responsibility of ensuring all caddies are well versed in what is expected in the role.

“I have been involved with the PGA of Australia’s caddy training programme since 2015, and over that time have seen many of the same people not only returning to work on the event, but I have also seen their golf knowledge improve,” said Ratumayale

“Each year, the residents of Sanasana look forward to the event, knowing that they play a significant role in ensuring the event runs smoothly, while taking the opportunity to learn new skills. We run the training in the week or so prior to the tournament, then tournament week our caddies are eagerly awaiting to be paired with a professional who requires a caddy for the week. It’s great to see their excitement and enthusiasm during the event.”

Given many have had little or no exposure to the game, the training begins with basics including never touching a ball on the course, where to stand while players are hitting, and not making noise while golfers are swinging.

However, there is also instruction in the etiquette of the game as well as the difference between clubs and some basic golf rules.

While the training is specifically for tournament week there is a hope among organisers that more regular caddying opportunities might become available as golf tourism in Fiji continues to grow.

PGA of Australia CEO Gavin Kirkman said that as with all elements of the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways, the hope is that the tournament will have a legacy well beyond just the 72 holes of play.

“One of the great benefits and goals of the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways is to promote golf in Fiji and as that market continues to grow we hope the demand for caddies year-round will also increase,” he said.

“Our tri-sanctioning arrangements with Asia and Europe give the tournament great exposure in those markets and Asian golfers in particular tend to favour using caddies.

“We see an opportunity there for the tournament to have an impact outside just the four days of competition and at the end of the day, that is our goal with every aspect of the event.”

 

Feedback:  oseab@fijisun.com.fj

 

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