Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Let's talk about fairness.
In November, PGA Tour pro Matt Kuchar played in the Mayakoba Classic in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Something extraordinary happened. He actually won. He hadn't done that for four years.
His regular caddie had been unavailable, so he'd teamed up with local bagman David "El Tucan" Ortiz.
Kuchar won $1.296 million. He paid his caddie $5,000. That was above the $4,000 he says they'd agreed.
It's also rather below what many people think he should have paid Ortiz.
Caddies can get 10 percent for a win. They might also get a substantial share for a top 5 finish.
Kuchar simply can't believe people are talking about this. He told GolfChannel.com:
It's just too bad that it's turned into a story, because it doesn't need to be.
Because, you see, Matt Kuchar says so.
He thinks he did more than right by Ortiz:
I feel like I was fair and good. You can't make everybody happy. You're not going to buy people's ability to be OK with you, and this seems to be a social media issue more than anything. I think it shouldn't be, knowing that there was a complete, agreed-upon deal that not only did I meet but exceeded.
This was just business. The deal is everything. Who is this uppity Mexican now saying he believes he should have got $50,000?
A mindless belief that business is everything damages humanity's image, doesn't it? This is something that, a recent survey showed, too many bosses just don't understand.
It Doesn't Have To Be This Way.
Dear Matt, please let me tell you a story.
In 1992, I got a phone call from LPGA Tour player Trish Johnson. I knew her a little, as I'd occasionally written about women's golf for a now-defunct newspaper called The European.
Johnson can be a forthright sort. I think she said hello. I'm fairly sure her next words were:
You're caddying for me next week.
It turned out that her regular caddie was stuck in the U.S. The upcoming tournament was the BMW European Masters at Golf Du Bercuit, just outside Brussels in Belgium.
She'd decided I'd do. In essence, I was her last resort.
I did as I was told. This would surely be an experience.
So I got on a plane from London, where I lived at the time, and caddied for Johnson on the practice day, the Pro-Am Day and the four days of the tournament.
Yes, she lasted all four days, despite my being her caddie.
At the beginning of the tournament, the London Times wrote that she had no chance of winning, because I was her caddie.
Journalists can be such unpleasant sorts.
Caddying wasn't easy. Johnson can be, to put it politely, focused. I had to have her damp towel facing just-so on the bag, so that she could wipe her clubs.
If I didn't, I got a look that would have frozen a thousand fresh peas.
That bag was heavier than an evening with a self-righteous salesman. And Golf du Bercuit enjoys hills steeper than an average milliennial's expectations.
It's not as if I was giving her much advice. When she got wonderfully wound-up, I may have risked a couple of jokes. After a couple of days I may have recommended a club selection. Or tried to.
She read her own greens. I mean, Good Lord, I'd never caddied in my life. I'd never even seen Golf du Bercuit before.
Of course I enjoyed playing golf and that's the worst part of being a caddie. You can't hit the shots.
Somehow, on the last day, we were in the last group. Just a couple of shots behind the leader, if I remember rightly. Which I may not. I know the leader was Kitrina Douglas.
To this day, I contend that Trish should have listened to me on one of the early par-3 holes and hit 8-iron instead of 7. (The 7 went out of bounds.)
We lost by a shot. That's how caddies talked in those days. I imagine they still do. We.
This Isn't About Business. It's About Humanity.
Trish and I had an agreement before the tournament. She said she'd pay me for every day I was there. Was there talk of win-bonuses? I can't imagine there was.
I wasn't El Tucan. I was, when it comes to caddying, El Tucan't.
I know that you, Matt, would have been fair. You'd have paid me everything we'd agreed. You might have even tossed me a few British pounds more.
After all, you said this of El Tucan to Golf.com:
For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week.
Yes, of course. We can't have the poor suddenly earning a decent amount of money, can we?
Let me tell you what Trish Johnson did.
Not only did she pay me for every day that I worked for her, she gave me seven-and-a-half percent of her winnings for coming second. She told me, in a very matter-of-fact manner:
That's the standard bonus for a caddie.
Women golfers, especially in those days, didn't get paid much. Fighting for sponsors was an infernal process. I think Trish won perhaps 10,000 British pounds, yet she still wanted to do what she felt was the right thing.
You see, Matt. There's being all business and then there's being just a little honorable.
Actually, even if you're all business, you might have wondered whether paying El Tucan far more than you'd agreed would have been, dare I say it, good publicity.
I'm sure you're right that people have whispered in El Tucan's ear about him being underpaid by a rich American golfer. I'm sure that things have now become a touch tasteless in your eyes.
But it shouldn't have come to that, should it?
You should have marveled at the fact that you'd won for the first time in four years and that the $1.3 million would merely add a little gravy to your $46.6 million career earnings.
Here, El Tucan. Here's more money than you've ever seen in your life. Thank you for working for me this week.
I fancy El Tucan, who knew the course, did a lot more for you than I did for Trish Johnson.
But you're no Trish Johnson, are you, Matt?
And Just As I'd Finished Writing This, a Change of Heart. Or a Different Financial Calculation.
I wasn't alone to have suggested you may not be quite right, Matt.
It seems to have finally finally got through to you.
You've suddenly apologized and will pay El Tucan $50,000 after all. You say you've read your comments and "cringed."
Now what could have brought that on? Conscience?
Or a realization that your carefully-honed, nice-guy image -- not everyone buys it -- was being affected?