- American golfer Xander Schauffele won gold at Tokyo 2020.
- Schauffele’s fellow PGA Tour pro Max Homa says caddies should get a medal as well.
- At the Olympics, coaches do not get medals when their athletes win, but rowing coxswains do.
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American golfer Xander Schauffele won gold at Tokyo 2020 on Saturday, saving par on the 18th green to take home the top prize.
—NBC Sports (@NBCSports) August 1, 2021
While Schauffele will get to wear the gold proudly for the rest of his career, his caddie, Austin Kaiser, will leave Tokyo only with the memories of helping his golfer to the triumph.
One of Schauffele’s fellow PGA Tour pros, Max Homa, says it’s time for that to change.
—max homa (@maxhoma23) July 31, 2021
The line delineating who gets medals and who doesn’t at the Olympics is somewhat unique.
Coaches don’t receive Olympic medals — whether in a team or individual competition — when their athletes reach the podium. However, at some world championships and other elite sporting competitions, they are recognized with hardware.
Meanwhile, in team relay competitions in the pool, some countries will swap athletes in and out of rotation in the qualifying heats. If a team earns a medal, every person who entered the pool during their path to the podium receives a medal. However, only the four who won the final receive their medal on the podium.
But the closest comparison to the role of a caddie at the Olympics might be the rowing coxswain.
While they aren’t rowing to gold, they are in the boat, directing their teams to victory. When their boat wins a spot on the podium, the coxswain takes home a medal.
Similarly, a caddie is out in the competition with their golfer, helping them judge the wind, read the greens, and build a strategy to take on the course. But despite this apparent involvement in the success of their golfer, caddies are not awarded medals.
There’s a strong argument to be made that caddies deserve medals, but by Paris 2024, the issue may resolve itself.
A prototype of the Paris 2024 medals designed by Philippe Starck showed medals that can break apart into four distinct pieces.
“Now more than ever, we don’t win alone,” Starck said in a video showing off the design. “This is a really good reward for team spirit.”
—Paris 2024 (@Paris2024) July 12, 2017
Should the design be officially adopted at Paris 2024, golfers offering their caddies a slice of the medal would be a no-brainer.
Until then, Schauffele will have to find another way to thank Kaiser for his effort in Tokyo. Maybe a nice watch or a few bottles of wine will do the trick.