What is a golf caddy, anyway? We see them walking along behind a golfer, carrying a bag full of golf clubs, but who are caddies and what exactly do they do besides trail behind with a golf bag?
So, what is a golf caddy? A golf caddy is an assistant who carries the golf bag for a golfer. He or she also fetches individual clubs and can provide emotional support to golfers who need it. For amateur golfers, caddies can also be a source of advice.
You may not realize it, but a golf caddy is not a “person” – he or she is an essential part of the golfing experience. His job is to assist the golfer on the course, and to help them enjoy the game to the fullest.
In this post, we fully explain “what is a golf caddy”, what they do, and how to get one (if you need one).
First Things First: Why is a Golf Caddy Called a “Caddy”?
Why is a golf caddy called a caddy? That’s an excellent question with an interesting answer.
The game of golf originated in Scotland. For the Scots, the word “caddie” or “cawdy” was a form of the French word “cadet”. Originally, the term meant a student military officer.
By the 19th century, the term “caddie” was used to describe someone who did odd jobs, but specifically someone who carried golf clubs for a golfer.
This is just one example from a long golf words list that has developed over the centuries.
More on the the term “golf caddie” in modern golf below. But first, let’s talk about traditional vs. fore-caddying.
What is a Golf Caddy? (Traditional Caddying vs. Fore-Caddying)
Now that we have a basic idea of what a golf caddy is and where the term came from, let’s talk about what the caddy’s actual job is. For the most part, a caddy will be an independent contractor offering their services within a golf club.
At one time, caddying on a regular basis was exclusive to only the most elite golf clubs. As time went on and the middle and working class began to take up the sport of golf, caddying was expanded.
There are actually two types of golf caddying: Traditional caddying and Fore-caddying.
Traditional Golf Caddying
Traditional caddying – both the golfer and the caddy walk the entire course.
The caddy carries the golfer’s bag, keeps the clubs cleaned off and washes the ball when on the green. The caddy’s duties also include walking ahead of the golfer to locate the ball and calculate the yardage to the hole and any potential hazards.
The caddy will also provide assistance to the golfer with club selection and the best way to get the ball to the hole if asked.
Fore-caddying – The caddy walks while the player(s) ride in the golf cart.
Fore-caddies are tasked with giving hole descriptions and going ahead of the golfers to spot the tee shots.
The fore-caddy offers more assistance than a traditional caddy.
Fore-caddies must know how to get the player’s yardage, spot the golfer’s next shot, read greens (basically visualizing the shot and guessing which way the ball will roll and/or land once it is hit), clean golf balls, attend to ball marks and attend the flag at the hole.
The caddy will also be responsible for raking the sand traps on the course once the golfer is done with it. These caddies will also sometimes be asked for advice in regard to club selection and weather variables such as wind speed and direction.
The caddy’s main duty is to ensure that the golfer has a pleasurable experience on the course.
All caddies must have a working knowledge of the game of golf.
They must know what each club is called and what it looks like, as they are responsible for handing the golfer the correct club when asked.
Because the caddy will also help keep score, they must be familiar with scoring rules and common golf terms.
Caddies should also be sure that they familiarize themselves with the course because they will need to advise the golfer on potential hazards and the overall setup of the course.
Duties Of A Golf Caddy [EXPANDED]
A golf caddy is most often viewed lugging around golf gear.
But is that all a golf caddy does?
If carrying around equipment was all that a caddy did, caddies would be highly replaceable.
Most pro golfers retain their caddies across multiple tournaments and seasons because they do more than meets the eye…
Carrying A Player’s Golf Bag
The main task of a golf caddy is to be the porter of golf clubs. So, while caddies do more than casual viewers can see, they’re paid mainly to do their visible job: carrying golf clubs.
It might seem like a power trip to have someone else carry your bag.
But golfers have caddies because golf bags can be heavy, and holding them can strain their muscles. To put 100% of yourself into the game, you cannot afford to be sore from carrying your clubs or tired from running between your cart and the ball.
Giving Moral Support
Golf caddies have not been made redundant by golf carts because golf carts can’t give moral support. Caddies can help golfers bounce back from a poor shot. For instance, a single shank can lead to two more shanks.
Many casual golfers do not even understand the cause of their shanks. In such cases, caddies can go beyond just giving emotional support and can venture into coaching. Of course, Tiger Woods doesn’t need his caddy to coach him.
But he’s a great example of how mental games can affect one’s score. Even pros need their caddies to cheer them on.
Bringing A Different Perspective
Finally, golfers need caddies as an objective third party whenever they tunnel-vision on a specific type of game.
For instance, a play that is too cocky and wants to attempt a difficult shot might be suggested an easier one. Some golfers might be grateful for such advice, while others would get offended.
A caddie has enough social intelligence to understand what a golfer needs, and the golfer trusts his caddy with his mood management. This is a very special relationship that outsiders don’t get.
And one culprit is the term itself…
Is the Term “Caddy”, “Caddie”, or “Cad” Offensive Today?
Golf is a Scottish-origin sport, and almost all the terms that date far back enough have Scottish origins as well. The word caddie is no different. It originated in Scotland in the 17th century, the same period during which the 18-hole round was standardized.
Caddie is derived from “Cadet,” which was, at the time, the French word for a young man joining the military without a commission. The Scots used the term back then to describe anyone who survived as a freelancer for unskilled work.
Over two centuries, enough caddies started taking up work as golf club porters that the term because synonymous with the job.
Since the 19th century, Caddie has meant golf supplies porter, though it is not as stigmatized today as it used to be then. Historically, caddies were also called cads, and British students used the word derogatorily for students of lesser means.
Today, “cad” is considered an offensive term even for caddies.
Golf Caddy “Ranks”
Did you know that there are different ranks for caddies? The promotion system for caddies goes as follows:
Normally, the ranks of Intermediate and Captain are obtained within the first year of caddying. The Honor rank can normally be obtained within the second or third year of caddying.
Caddies who want to obtain the Championship rank are looking at at least six years to obtain this position and oftentimes can take as many as 10 years to obtain this rank.
How Does a Caddy’s Schedule Work?
At the start of each work day, caddies will meet in the morning at the “Caddy Shack” (yes, just like the popular movie) and wait for the caddy master to assign them to a golfer.
Once assigned, the caddy will retrieve the golfer’s bag and meet the golfer in the designated waiting area.
Caddies have the option of only working what equates to a single shift, which would be one morning round of golf (sometimes referred to as a “loop”) and then leaving for the day, or wait to also work an afternoon round of golf.
Do Golf Caddies Get Paid?
Of course! Caddying is just like any other job – a caddy provides a service that they are then paid for.’
Being a caddy can pay well if you work at enough events. Usually, a golf caddy makes $1500 to $3000 per working week, depending on their percentage earnings contract and the prize earnings of the golfer they work for. (more salaries below)
Typically a caddy will be paid at the end of the round.
The payment can be in the form of cash or a payment ticket. If the caddy receives a payment ticket, they will then take that ticket to the clubhouse to receive their pay.
Many times if the caddy has met the expectations of the golfer, the golfer with give an additional cash tip. While the average pay at course can vary, most experienced caddies will earn anywhere from $80 to $120 per bag. Of course, the pay for a special event or a tournament will be higher.
For PGA caddies, the pay works a bit differently. As the caddie is usually paid a portion of the golfer’s winnings, a common pay scale looks something like this:
- 5% for making the cut
- 7% for a top 10 finish
- 10% for a win
Let’s take a deeper look at caddie compensation by context.
- Golf Course Caddies – $100 to $140 per bag – These are caddies who work for the course and can be rented by amateur golfers. They make $100/bag on the low end and $140 on the high end. They also receive tips that can range from $20 to $1,000.
- Pro Golf Caddies – $1500 to $2500 per tournament – These caddies work with individual golfers and make a base amount of $1000 at a minimum and around $2,500 on the high end. Moreover, they get paid 5% to 10% of the golfer’s earnings.
- PGA Caddies – $1500 to $3000 per tournament – Caddies who help golfers during PGA events have a base stipend of $1500 to $3000 per tournament. Additionally, they get 5% to 10% of the player’s winnings.
- PGA European Tour Caddies – $1500 to $3000 per tournament – Caddies make the same amount on the European tour as they make during the standard tour. However, they are eligible to make additional income from sponsorships.
At this point, you might be wondering why a golf caddie might get a sponsor. Well, a caddie is as good a visibility device as the player he works for. John Rahm’s caddie makes more than a lower-ranking golfer’s caddie.
In fact, the bulk of the income of a golf caddie depends on who he works for. This is a career where you can make $6,000 per month or $60,000, depending on how you play your cards.
As the golfer is not guaranteed to win money at each tournament, these caddies are also paid in the form of a salary so that they still have a guaranteed income.
Top Caddies in the World
Speaking of playing one’s cards right, let’s discuss some of the best caddies in the world. These are bagmen who have picked the right horses (or have been picked by the right horses) and currently have a high enough media profile to deserve their own coverage.
LaCava is a popular caddie because he has seen three career rises with three different pros across three decades. He got a serious start with Fred Couples in the 90s. When he was working for Ken Green, he met Couples who expressed interest in a partnership. The bagman waited two months to gather his courage to call Couples.
After he had become a highly sought caddie in the pro circuit, Couples’ next notable bet was Dustin Johnson, with whom he remained up until Tiger Woods hired him. Since Johnson hired LaCava when the former was 25, it is highly likely that it was for guidance and not just carrying clubs.
And when Woods approached him, it was evident that he wanted some of that bagman magic that had seen Johnson rise through the ranks. Today, LaCava is one of the most famous caddies in the world.
Adam Hayes has been working with Jon Rahm since 2018 and is viewed as one of the best caddies today.
Hayes worked for the LPGA Tour from 2000 to 2004 before moving on to the PGA Tour, where he caddied for Phil Mickelson (2011 to 2017) and other notable names. His clients have seen an admirable rise in rankings throughout his career.
Williams became famous because of his longtime relationship with Woods, which covered most of Tiger’s career rallies that solidified him as an all-time great.
Unfortunately, Williams was among the changes that Woods made in 2011, which also included a new swing and a different coach. Williams expressed his disappointment quite publicly with his official statement on the matter.
When he caddied for Adam Scott shortly after his breakup with Woods, he made statements that were inferred as taking credit for Woods’s previous victories. He later apologized and stated that his anger over being fired caused him to be careless with his words.
Golf Caddy Career Guide
If you want to get started as a caddie, you should most likely apply for a position at a golf club that pros frequent. Caddy hiring is mostly referral-based among serious amateurs who play at professional events. When these players become mini-tour pros, they retain these caddies up until they go full pro.
How Do Golfers Find Their Caddies?
Because caddie hires are referral based, it is hard to find an opening, which is ironic given that the work caddies do is technically unskilled labor. Golf clubs put out ads for caddie hiring, and you can apply to become one.
A service-oriented mindset and social intelligence will land you this job. Next, you have to treat each golfer as if he is the number one golfer in the world. Be such a great hang that you get requested most often.
When a pro rolls up to a golf club and his caddie is sick or absent, he simply asks for the “most requested” caddie. If you do a good job, you might not replace the pro’s caddy, but you will become a back-of-mind referral.
There is still no guarantee of getting retained by a pro. That’s why it is not a great career to bet on. But it is a fun summer job for a college golfer who wants to get course access without breaking the bank.
Conclusion: What are Golf Caddies? [The Ultimate Golf Caddy Guide]
The term “caddie” was originally used to describe someone who did odd jobs, but specifically someone who carried golf clubs for a golfer.
Today, a caddy is much more than a bag carrier.
While the caddy does carry the equipment, they also offer important advice and basically act as the “right hand man” for the golfer throughout the course.
Most caddies are freelancers with great per-hour pay but an average monthly income. You can work part-time as a caddie by looking for openings at your local golf club and applying with a video resume that shows your positive attitude and energy.