Money, art and preferred parking: One Tour caddie will win it all with one swing on 17

TPC Sawgrass 17

Patrick Reed's caddie Kessler Karain takes aim during the 2021 Players Championship.

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Tour players competing at this week’s Players Championship are used to playing for the big bucks at the Tour’s flagship event — the purse is the biggest in the sport after all, with a whopping $20 million on the line. But before they begin their money marches on Thursday, their caddies will be competing for some dough during the Wednesday practice round. One swing, closest to the pin, for a bunch of money donated by players earlier in the week. 

It’s the annual Caddie Competition on the 17th hole, held every Wednesday during Players Championship week. When their practice rounds reach the famous 17th hole and its island green, each caddie gets once chance to take aim at the pin. Whoever hits it closest to the hole wins the entire pot, and then some. 

Ever since 2000, each Wednesday at the Players has been spent this way, with caddies showing off just how good they are as well, or just how rusty they might be after carrying staff bags around TPC Sawgrass. Last year’s competition saw Chris Rice, Harold Varner’s caddie, hit it to 1’2”, the closest result the competition has ever seen. His pro responded appropriately.

We can only glean so much information from Varner’s tweet, but it sounds like the prize fund amount is nothing to scoff at. The competition doesn’t make public how much money is won, but considering the millionaires who are donating to the cause, it is likely a healthy payout.

The event has been hosted every year in honor of Bruce Edwards, Tom Watson’s longtime caddie, who battled ALS. The funds donated by players for the caddie pot are matched by LOCALiQ, up to $10,000, and donated to the Bruce Edwards Foundation for ALS research

The winning caddie also earns a sketch by local comics artist Casey Jones, which is no slouch. He works for Disney and Marvel. They’ll also earn an engraved money clip to hold on to all they’ve won. And last but certainly not least they’ll earn a parking pass for Thursday-Sunday in the Players parking lot. Is it demonstrably closer to the clubhouse than the caddie lot? Probably not, but it’s closer nonetheless!

Three years ago, ESPN’s Michael Collins tweeted out a picture of the trophy (above), which holds much of the historical results. Hit it inside six feet and you’re in contention. Stick it like Rice did and someone else will have to hole out to beat you. 

The Players Championship (officially) gets started on Thursday, but the competition will heat up long before then. To the victor goes the spoils — and a sweet parking spot.


Sean Zak Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.