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Houghton Golf Club honours caddies

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Many golfers depend on caddies, yet these staff members have little job security, recognition, or support. Caddies are seldom employed as permanent staff at golf courses. This means that they are unable to access the benefits of full-time employment, including a regular pay cheque.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Nov 29, 2018

“Many caddies go home without any payment if they are unable to find a job for the day – in spite of the fact that they arrived at their place of work, ready and willing to perform,” says Marc Lubner, the son of the late businessman and philanthropist, Bertie Lubner.

In recognition of the work done by caddies, Johannesburg’s Houghton Golf Club held the first Bertie Lubner Caddie’s Day on Sunday 18 November.

The occasion was the brainchild of Yvonne Johnston, the club’s Ladies’ Captain. It was sponsored by Marc, who also sponsored a trophy named for his father to commemorate Bertie’s big-hearted spirit. Marc said he and his family would continue to fund the event every year as an example for other clubs to follow.

“My father was known to all the caddies at almost every golf course he played at,” recalled Marc. “He championed the interests of caddies, making sure they received recognition for their work.”

Bertie, together with his brother Ronnie, set out to address the plight of caddies by establishing Caddie Foundations at several golf courses throughout South Africa, including the Houghton Golf Club, River Club Golf Course, Goose Valley Golf Estate, and Plettenberg Bay Golf Club.

These foundations are tasked with looking after caddies’ interests. For example, they provide social security in the event of a crisis which may leave a caddie unemployable. Bertie also motivated for the imposition of rules which would ensure better job security and regular work. For example, he suggested that it be made obligatory for four-balls to employ the services of a caddy.

Marc has taken the good work of the Caddie Foundation one step further. Through Afrika Tikkun, a youth development organisation which Bertie founded and of which Marc is Chief Executive, a computer lab has been built to create a facility where caddies can develop skills that not only improve their services, but equip them with competencies that will perhaps lead to other forms of income.

Johnston said Caddies’ Day saluted the hard work of caddies. As part of the proceedings, caddies were treated to a celebration meal in the clubhouse. In addition, the Houghton Golf Club’s lady members organised a tournament, partnering caddies and members. A prize giving was held for the top-10 performers, and each caddy taking part received a corporate gift pack, including a golf shirt and gift bag. The caddies also received food vouchers.

“It was a truly fabulous day,” Johnston said. “A huge amount of fun was had by all, and Bertie was honoured as he should be.”

Complementing Johnston on the initiative, Marc said it was an example of living Mandela’s values, and was true to Bertie’s heart.

“If we want South Africa to be an integrated society, built on mutual respect, we can’t wait for the Mandelas and Tutus of the world. We can be ordinary people, like Bertie, who treat individuals – all individuals – with appropriate levels of regard and respect, and in this way bring out the very best in each other,” he said.

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