'Hobo' Osborn has been a caddy on the Senior PGA Tour since the mid 1980's.
He's worked for just about all of the senior tour players out there including a
win with Gary Player. Jerry was present for the Alfred, 'Big
Rabbit', Dyer 'Haul of Fame' interview, this past year at the Canadian Senior
Open in Toronto.
This interview is an extension of the Dyer
interview, and includes more about the early black caddies and players and
climate of the PGA Tour back then. Osborne also relates quite a bit about his
early days and his associations with many of those players including Charlie
Sifford, the first African American Golfer to break the race barrier into modern
professional golf. (In this interview Rabbit and Hobo came up with
the obitiuary of Afro American caddies who've died.)
what was your first association with golf and caddying?
Jerry -I Grew up in a housing project
called Southside Homes, in Charlotte North Carolina, and most of the kids who
lived there caddied. As a small kid we used to fish balls out of the lake
at the public golf course - Revolution Golf Course. Eventually we
gravitated down to hanging around the caddy shack. And my family came to
depend on the $12 to $15 a week I'd bring home from caddying.
-" When was your first tournament as a caddy
on the senior tour?"
first tournament was for Dow Finsterwald. Dow knew me through a mutual
friend of mine. Joe World hooked me up.
CaddyBytes.com -And Joe
World was one of your associations from the world of golf and the black tours.
And I know you grew up in Charlotte, and you caddied as a kid to help the
family. How did all that play into getting you into golf and associated
with the early 'Name' black players in professional golf?
Jerry -When I was
16 years old, we were pretty good players, a caddy associate and friend of ours,
James Black, successfully qualified for the Los Angeles Open, and amazingly he
and a club pro were tied for the lead at Rancho Park in Los Angeles. One
week he's caddying the next he's leading the golf tournament beating Arnold
Palmer and all those guys! He eventually tied for 9th, Paul Harney won the
tournament. Up until Tiger Woods he was the youngest black player to
acquire his playing privileges. A lot of players still ask about him, in
Canada last year, Mo Norman asked me about him. But Jim Dent, Jim Thorpe,
think that he was probably as talented as any of the players, but not polished
enough at that time to become successful.
then how did it progress from there with players and tournaments?"
Jerry -First of all
let me say this. Back into the late '40's, early 50's and on into the
1960's the professional golf tours had Caucasian only clauses, which prohibited
blacks from playing them. As a result, the only place blacks could play
were on black only tours, or playing local hustler circuits. There
were only two exceptions to that, one being the U.S. Open and George S. Mays'
tournament in Chicago, The 'Tam O Shanter'. This climate existed all the
way up into the 1960's. All the blacks had to go either north or out west
to pursue the aspiration of playing professional golf. And there weren't
any sponsors for black players back then. I can name at least a half dozen
players from my state. There was Jim Thorpe, Chuck Thorpe, James Black,
Charlie Sifford, Curtis Sifford, Junior Walker. This is why I never tried
to play. So you couldn't really make a living just Eak out an existence.
were the other notable Afro American players of the time?
Sifford who won the National Negro Open five times besides winning twice on the
PGA tour. Ted Rose, Bill Spiller, Howard Wheeler, I was never fortunate
enough to have played with them, but I did play with Charlie and James Black,
Lee Elder, Pete Brown, Cliff Brown -I was younger than them, but I was
just a 'respectable' player amongst them. I was in my teens. Between 16 and 18 I
was becoming to be recognized as somebody who could hit a golf ball. We
played some gambling games back then. I played the pro amateur circuit
along with James Black and others.
And we all played the North American Golf Association, 'Chitlin' tour, which a
lot of the southern white pros also played like Gibby Gilbert and Tom McGinnis.
Most of the tournaments were played in the South. It was a tour that
blacks could play for pro purses. I never won one as a professional, I
couldn't beat any of those black pros, (many of them went on to become and are
tour players), and after you got down to 10th place or beyond there was no money
in that. So I would play the pro am portion for the merchandise. I'd
play as an amateur under different aliases and win the merchandise prize for the
Then myself and a 'pro partner' would split the purse, me with the merchandise,
and he with the pro winnings. (Plus we all had bets on the side that we'd
win too). It could come out to a pretty good living at times.
in the early days of professional golf, the practice of 'purse splitting'
- an informal agreement arrived upon between two players before competing in a
particular golf tournament whereby they agree after the finish of that
tournament that they will then 'split' (pool or share) their winnings from that
tournament. It has been rumored
that a successful Doug
Ford used to split earnings on occasion with a young and upcoming Arnold Palmer when he first came on tour.
The veteran Ford was effectively, 'betting' that the young Palmer had the talent
enough to make him some money and the young Palmer had the 'insurance' of an
older viable player making him some potential dough with a good finish on a
given week. For the young player it was a way to
help pay his expenses - since he was yet to establish himself in the game.
It wasn't very long after that though that purse splitting and all forms
of gambling were outlawed on
the PGA Tour. But in the case of the sub tours
like the Chitlin' Tour where the purses were small for guys to make a living. It was
'hustling golf' at it's very best!
did most of the black caddies come from who caddied on the Pro Circuit back in
the early days? Between You and Big Rabbit, try to come up with all the
older black caddies of the early days who are still alive, and which ones are
-first of all most of the tour caddies came out of
Jackson, Mississippi, and Texas.
Still Alive -Mitch, Herman Mitchell, (in his
60's and back caddying part time on the Senior tour for Lee Trevino), Smitty,
Sam Killer Foy(74), Rabbit, Smiley Jenkins is still caddying at Atlanta Country
Club. Golf Ball had a stroke not good, but all are still alive.
Rabbit -all the caddies who came up with me
99% of them all died.
*To see the
African American Tour Caddy Obituary of the Pioneer Tour Caddies of the PGA Tour
Click Here and scroll to the end of the 'Big Rabbit' Dyer 'Haul of Fame'
Tournaments page - with more Winning Caddy Interviews
News of the Day
is the place to go
on CaddyBytes for daily stories from around the world of tournament golf!
Read our exclusive caddy
'Haul' of Fame
The Virtual Golf Tours
are great visual golf tours of some famous courses...
Resource of Caddy Books
provides you with a bibliographical resource of all the books ever written on, about, or by golf caddies! (*Now with Book Reviews added!)
Get the hottest
new putter on
- Play the World's best courses
at home on
your XBox or PC!
Signup for the CaddyBytes Newsletter Here:
When you Submit your email address you will receive information about how to get a collectible BC PTCA Caddy Doll, as well as upcoming CaddyBytes News, Golf Product Specials and Giveaways! CaddyBytes.com will not share your email address with Anyone, Ever! (Also:
We've recently updated our Email Security!)
CaddyBytes.com is not affiliated with the PGA Tour, PGA of America, or any other Professional Golf Organizations, their officers or agents -Just the Caddies! All Caddy Stories that appear on this web site are exclusively owned by
CaddyBytes.com. Any duplication, or copying of the material presented on this site is prohibited without the expressed written consent of CaddyBytes.com and it's