Thanks to Reader Chris for passing along this interesting (yet a little tragic) column from John Canzano of The Oregonian from last week’s Safeway Classic. Canzano reports on the story of an unfortunate incident of height discrimination toward a local caddie. Cameron Kiyokawa played on his high school golf team and holds a 5 handicap. He also has local knowledge of all the best courses in the Portland area, including Pumpkin Ridge, where the LPGA event was held.
Thing is, he’s also, well, there’s no easy way to say this, but he’s a little vertically challenged. (Which is actually what my friends call me; I’m 5’2″.) Kiyokawa is 5’3” and 115 lbs. The other thing is, you don’t need to be 6’0″ to carry a tour bag, though. (Duh!)
Kiyokawa was so excited about an LPGA tournament coming into town that he signed on as a local caddie for the week. The caddie master assigned him to Dina Ammaccapane, a 17-year tour journey-lady, who only earned $7,489 in 2009. (She doesn’t travel with a caddie anymore to cut costs.) According to the story, Kiyokawa was still “giddy.” He even showed up at 6:30am on Monday and turned down an invite to play in the Pro-Am because he felt it was important to be available in the case Ammaccapane arrived early. This is when the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up part of the unfortunate story happened.
Ammaccapane eventually showed up at 4 p.m., where she was directed to her waiting caddie. Cameron walked up, and introduced himself. “She looked at me,” he said, “gave me a weird look and didn’t say anything.” There was an awkward silence.
Then Ammaccapane said it. And I wish she hadn’t. So does Cameron. So does his father, Perry, who heard the words and felt his insides hollow out.
Ammaccapane said this: “Do you have anyone bigger?”
There was some initial confusion. Some thought she was joking. This was followed by some discussion between the master caddie and Ammaccapane, who explained that she wanted someone more capable of carrying her 75-pound bag. Ultimately, it’s her bag and her golf career, and so the discussion ended with the player announcing, “I would be more comfortable with someone bigger.”
Obviously, as the player and an independent contractor, Ammaccapane has every right to choose who carries her bag. It’s just disappointing that she didn’t have the tact to choose her words a little more carefully and, you know, practice human decency and sensitivity. I mean, this may come as a surprise, but short people who sign up as local caddies have feelings, too! Shocking, I know. But there’s a more courteous way to ask for a different, taller caddie. The account of her behavior comes across as discriminatory in several ways.
While we haven’t heard Ammaccapane’s side of the story, I’m not sure much would change my opinion of her behavior in this incident — if the facts are all accurate. From what I’ve read about her sister’s heinous treatment toward Michelle Wie in Eric Adelson’s book, The Sure Thing (read some of it here), sounds like rudeness runs in the family.
Canzano got the last word, though — the final lines in his story:
Thing is, he wouldn’t have been the smallest person on the course.
That would have been Ammaccapane.
It wasn’t even close.
[Photo by Kyle Auclair/Getty Images]