'Haul' of Fame
      with 'Big Rabbit'

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Alfred 'Big Rabbit' Dyer was one of the original and African American caddies on the PGA Tour.  Rabbit grew up in New Orleans Louisiana and his first occupation was as a golf caddy.  Rabbit was Gary Players caddy from the early 1970's on, and was one of the original Big 3 caddies on the American PGA Tour -the other two being Angelo Argea who worked for Jack Nicklaus, and Creamy Carolan, who worked for Arnold Palmer.

-When did you first start caddying?

  –I started caddying at age 9 at Metairie Country Club in New Orleans Louisiana.  Caddying to me was a way to make a living.   I'd come from a poor family of eight kids, and caddying was a way to help my mother and make a living.  That was 1948-49 when I began to caddy.

CaddyBytes.com  –So what was your first experience then caddying for a professional?

Dyer  –The first pro I caddied for was Ben Hogan.  He used to come to Metairie CC. for an exhibition where he played there with Sam Snead and Freddie Haas.  Freddie Haas was the pro there and he assigned me to Ben Hogan, and I caddied for him every time he would come to Metairie CC. to play thereafter.

  –How did you get the nick name 'Rabbit'?

Dyer  –When I was playing basketball for Saint Joan of Arc High School, and we were playing Saint Joan of Arc Catholic School in Birmingham Alabama, for the Southern Conference, and father Dyney, told me to play center, as our center got injured in the previous game and couldn't play.   The opposing center was bigger than me and Father Dyney told me to try to time my jump to beat the other center to the ball.  And I did and we won the tournament.  Father said to me after that, "Alfred you jump like a rabbit!"  So from there on I was known as Rabbit!

CaddyBytes.com –Did you play golf like most caddies?

Dyer  –The only way a black guy could play golf in those days in the South was as a caddy on Mondays when they let the caddies play.  But what we used to do was we'd sneak onto the golf course in the evenings when no one was around.   And if the pro would see us, he'd run us off through the swamp.  And if you got caught, you'd get a whipping with a cat and nine tails!   Then you'd go home and you'd get another whipping.  

CaddyBytes.com  -So when was it you began working for Gary Player?

Dyer  - My dad caddied at the same country club that I did.  My dad caddied for Gary Player before I did.  He caddied for Gary in 1960 in the New Orleans Open.  I caddied for him first in 1962 in the New Orleans Open, he finished fifth in the tournament, he gave me $500.  I'd never seen that much money at once in those days!

CaddyBytes.com  -So was that when you started working for Gary Player steadily?

Dyer  –No.  It wasn't until ten years later.   I was working for ABC television in Birmingham Michigan, (Oakland Hills), at the PGA Championship there in 1972.  I talked with Gary about working for him the next week in the World Series of Golf, which he would qualify for if he were able to win that week.  Gary told me that his regular caddy had gone back to South Africa, and if he were to win the PGA that week I would have the bag.  And he did, and sure enough I worked the World Series the next week which he also won!  

CaddyBytes.com -Who'd you caddy for in between in the 1960's?

Dyer  –I worked for Tony Lema when he won his first tournament in Hesperia Open he beat Jacky Cupit.  I worked for Arnold Palmer, Homero Blancas and won, Dan Sikes with wins on the regular and senior tours,  Dave Stockton.   Gary Player had a lot of guys in between.  He had Nipper from the Masters, Texas Sam, Hobo, and many others.

CaddyBytes.com  -How many tournaments did you win in your caddy career?

Dyer –I'd say about 55 or so, I don't remember them all.  I 'won' about ten or twelve in South Africa, British Open, the Swiss Open, the Irish Open.  Before Gary I ' won' about 5 times before '72', and about 30 something or more with Gary,  Stockton, Blancas, Bob Goalby, two with Tony Lema, and so on!

CaddyBytes.com  -So what were your opportunities to caddy being black and in the south in the late 50's early 60's?

Dyer  –We had a tour they called it the Southern Swing, 5 to 10 tournaments we used to be able to caddy, Bo Winninger and those guys came out to play, there really wasn't a tour back then like now.  Now a guy doesn't really need a caddy, with the yardages on all the sprinklers like they are.  We used to travel by Greyhound Bus, California to Florida, when you got off the bus, we had to change our clothes in the woods and then go walk the golf course.  We had to travel in the back of the bus, where it said 'Colored Patrons Only', if there was an empty seat in the mid back you had to place the sign up in front of you between you and the white people.   I remember seeing Charlie Sifford in Fort Worth Texas at Colonial and we were both changing clothes in the parking lot.  Charlie told me, "I can't go into that clubhouse!"  (That was back when the PGA Tour had a Caucasian only clause in their bylaws)

CaddyBytes.com  -When you got Gary Players bag fulltime in 1972, how many years did you caddy for him?

Dyer  –1972 up to 1990.  Through traveling all over the world I got a lot of experience seeing how people treat people in other countries, being a poor guy from the South. I got to go to about ten different countries in the world.   If it wasn't  for Gary Player I wouldn't have gotten to do all that.  Because of him and caddying I was able to put my son through college at Princeton University.  I tell all the young kids today to caddy.  But a young black kid today don't want to caddy, he can make more money doing the wrong things, and that's a shame!  Caddying was a great way to grow up, learn the game, stay out of trouble.

CaddyBytes.com  -Was Player a demanding guy to work for in his heyday?

Dyer  –Demanding but fair.  Be in the game, alert at all times, but he was fair.  He was a gentleman.  

CaddyBytes.com  -Did Gary take you to South Africa as a statement against racism?

Dyer  –Brian Henning took Lee Elder and I to South Africa, Lee being the first black professional to play and me being the first black foreign caddy.  That was 1974 and some people  really didn't want that to happen, but Gary Player did, and he helped pave the way for that to happen.  Gary Player was a sportsman and he figured that everybody should play sports together.  So Gary used his position to help promote desegregation in South Africa.   In that respect he was a pioneer. 

CaddyBytes.com  -So what were those early experiences like caddying in South Africa as the first 'celebrated black caddy' in South Africa?

Dyer  –When I first went to South Africa, the black police had a stick, a white policeman had a gun...If I was riding in a car down the road a white guy would try to move you out of the way and kick the car and yell at you, 'Get out of the way, you Calfer".  They don't call you a 'n____r' over there they called you a 'calfer'.  I was in Swaziland, and this big south African Dutchman professional Ben Baker came up to me while I was caddying in the pro am for some American amateurs and he grabbed me and called me a 'calfer', and I slugged him and knocked him out!

CaddyBytes.com  -How did Gary and others react to that?

Dyer  –They all supported me.  And the South African PGA put him on probation for saying that word!   He made a mistake, he thought I was gonna be scared of him.  They all supported me.

CaddyBytes.com  -So when was your first British Open was 1974.  You're on the 15th hole 2nd shot, and Gary's  pulled his second shot dead left into the heather.  After a long while with everyone looking suddenly you find the ball, and reportedly away from where the TV. cameras had it to be and everyone else looking.  There has been speculation and outright accusation over the years that you dropped a ball there!?

Dyer  –I never cheated.  I wouldn't drop a golf ball with a big lead, with all camera's looking at you, you'd have to be crazy to drop a ball.  I don't care if you had a hole in your pocket, you'd have to be crazy to do something like that.  We could have made a couple of double bogeys and still won the tournament.  (Player had a three or four shot lead at the time).

CaddyBytes.com  -When and why then do you believe this story came about?

Dyer  –I didn't start hearing about this story until 10 years later.   When I first went over there that week they started giving me a hard time. calling me names like darkie -the English caddies.  The people were nice in England, it was the caddies who were like that.  I was walking the golf course getting yardage for Gary, and late in the evening I ran into three caddies who told me to get out of there, we don't need you here.  One of them kept harassing me and walked up on the green when no one was around and stuck a club in my back, and I hit him and knocked him out!  The next day the papers read, "Sugar Ray Rabbit" knocks him out!

CaddyBytes.com  -Who were the first early caddies along with yourself on tour?

Dyer   -there was Mitch,  -Herman Mitchell, Percy Riley, Roy Stone, 'Killer' Sam Foy, Del Taylor, and I were the first early caddies on the tour.  Although Smitty was older than us, he came out later.  The white caddies didn't come out until the early 60's -it was below them to caddy back then.

CaddyBytes.com  -How about a list of all the Black caddies of the PGA Tour who've since passed away? 

Black Caddy Obituary -Iron Man Caruthers, (Palmers caddy for his four Masters wins at Augusta), Del Taylor, (most notably of Billy Casper caddy fame), John Blass, Texas Sam, Bee bop, Percy Riley, 'Momma' Bill, Cocky, Walter Montgomery, Orlando Scott, (worked for Johnny Pott), Randy Soul, Ernest Wright, (ladies and regular tour caddy), Seymour, Zoonie, Radal, Sonny Gale, Leroy Schultz, (Weiskopf fame), Sam Pickens, Neal Harvey, (early Trevino caddy), Preacher man, Leroy, (caddied for Goalby), Earl Brown, (out caddying in the '50's), Henry Brown, (Augusta caddy), Red, (caddied both tours), Fat Jack, (old school), Swanson, Rocky, (caddied for Tommy Bolt).  And we sadly also now have to add the passing in November 2002 of Sam 'Killer' Foy in Houston Texas. 

Alfred Rabbit Dyer is currently 64 years old, living in New Jersey.  He worked as an across the road truck driver for a while in the 1990's.  He comes out to caddy mostly at Senior tour events, and was caddying for Lee Elder at the Senior Canadian Open at the time of this interview.  This interview is followed up and continued on along with a contribution by Alfred in the CaddyBytes History of African American caddies 'Caddy-mentory',  interview with he and Jerry 'Hobo' OsbornSee the Jerry 'Hobo' Osborn 'Haul of Fame' story to read more!

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