what is a golf caddy

What is a Golf Caddy?

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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 individual who carries the golfer’s bag of golf clubs and offers advice and knowledge throughout the game.

You may not realize it, but a golf caddy is not a “person” ā€“ 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.

What is a Golf Caddy?

why is a golf caddy called a caddy

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 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.

Golf Caddy “Ranks”

Did you know that there are different ranks for caddies? The promotion system for caddies goes as follows:

  • Trainee
  • Intermediate
  • Captain
  • Honor
  • Championship

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.

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

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.

Conclusion: What are Golf Caddies?

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.