Robert Garrigus is always giving back, even though it’s usually done behind the scenes and without a big shiny press release. He often picks up the food tab at the caddie trailer for the entire week. He’s thrown in a big-screen TV for the winner of the caddies’ closest-to-the-pin contest on Wednesday of The Players Championship. He’s paid the fees for the Caddies’ Tournament golf course, along with the $10K purse, the past several years.
This time, Garrigus, who earned a career-high $3.2 million in 2012, is taking it a step further and making things more official. He’s setting up a “Caddie Emergency Fund,” where PGA Tour caddies will have access to $100,000 for — yep, you guessed it — emergencies, and a scholarship foundation for caddies’ kids, which will probably be called Professional Tournament Caddie Association (PTCA) Foundation.
Garrigus got the idea originally from his caddie Brent Henley and his older brother Kip, who loops for Brian Gay.
“Brent and Kip were saying we need to do something for the guys who are struggling,” said Garrigus on Tuesday at Bay Hill. “Kip was talking about raising $100 a week, and I was like, I can do more than that. So, it was Kip’s original idea and then I expanded for it. I do stuff for them, like pay for their food whenever I can and I don’t want attention for it, but with this, I need people to donate and help out, too.
“It’s pretty cool that I am in the opportunity to do it.”
First, Garrigus explained that he, along with Tim West, who runs the Saturday Pro-Am Series, will start the “Caddie Emergency Fund,” which they expect to have established by the end of 2013. This will have $100,000 available for caddies who need the money, say there’s a funeral or operation, no questions asked.
“There’s a pretty darn good chance it’ll come from me,” said Garrigus when asked if he was financing the entire project on his own.
Then, in 2014 the PTCA Foundation will be up and running, where they will have a charity fundraiser and/or receive private donations.
“We’re going to have a golf tournament with the proceeds going to the Foundation,” said Garrigus. “If a caddie has a kid that wants to go to college — and they don’t have the money, they’ll have scholarships for their education.
“It’ll be specifically for the kids of PGA Tour caddies. A lot of guys make a lot of money and a lot of guys don’t…Some caddies are kind of loose with their money and some aren’t.”
Over the past seven to eight years out on Tour, Garrigus estimates he’s given $175,000-200,000 to caddies. Why? Because he can and it’s nice to be in that position. “It’d be nice to have your employers back you,” he said. “I’m in a position to help, so why not? We are kind of a big family out here, you know that.
“It’s something to say, someone actually cares about you and your family other than you, and if I can help one kid go to school, then that’s pretty cool. It’s something I can do to help and I probably would have liked to have something like that when I was growing up.”