LPGA caddies now optional,

MIAMI • LPGA players will be free to decide whether or not they want to use a caddie when the Tour, on ice since February, gets up and running amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Players are being given the option of carrying their own golf bags for the remainder of this season as part of the LPGA Tour's new safety guidelines, the Golf Channel reported on Thursday.

Many of players do not want to commit to the same caddie for the entire season so individual tournaments often provide local ones, but given the Covid-19 crisis, that option is no longer ideal.

"This temporary option is meant primarily to avoid the local caddie situation where a player may have health concerns working with someone who they don't know," said Tour spokesman Kelly Schultz. "We fully expect the overwhelming number of players to be using caddies and are encouraging them to do so.

"Caddies are a critical part of LPGA tournaments and competitions and we will resume our mandatory policy in 2021."

Schultz added it would be a temporary move and not a way of phasing out caddies long term, insisting "nothing could be further from the truth".

The LPGA recently moved back its scheduled return from July 15 when it cancelled the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, with the restart date now set for July 23 at the Marathon Classic in Sylvania, Ohio.

However, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan has said more cancellations and postponements are still possible.