Using a Golf Caddy: Everything you need to Know

Picture this… you’re playing a bucket list course and decide to hire a caddy to help you navigate the round. That way you can focus on playing great and not get tired from carrying or pushing your clubs the entire day.

On the second hole, it’s a short par 3 and you only need a wedge to get there. After seeing you make par on the first hole, the caddie feels confident about your game. Instead of standing behind you, he decides to stand about 10 feet away from you.

Then, the unthinkable happens… you hit a dead shank and hit the caddy right in his special area. He drops to his knees, you nearly die of embarrassment, and the rest of the group is dying laughing.

No, this story isn’t made up either. This actually happened to my uncle who is an avid golfer and we still laugh about the story to this day.

While it makes for a hilarious memory, I’m sure the caddy would disagree. But he championed on for the next 17 holes and got a heck of a tip for his ability to make it all 18 holes.

In all seriousness, caddies are instrumental in playing better golf. While they aren’t available at every golf course, they can make a huge difference in your game.

In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about a caddies responsibilities, hiring a caddy, and even how to become a caddy as well.

Caddy in Golf 101

What is a Golf Caddy?

A caddy is someone who helps a golfer (or two) out during a round of golf. They’ll usually carry a bag (or sometimes ride in a cart), and help golfers with everything during the round. Some responsibilities include raking bunkers, cleaning clubs, reading greens, providing suggestions, sharing insights about the course, and more.

Caddies are generally reserved for professional golfers, but high-end public and private courses sometimes offer them as well. A caddy can help the everyday golfer significantly improve as they tend to have unique course insight from playing the course so many times.

History of Golf Caddies

Caddies (or caddy’s) have been a huge part of the game for quite some time. The term caddy (caddie or cawdy) was derived from the French word, cadet. The first caddies appeared over 200 years ago in 1817 in Edinburg. Since then, they’ve been an integral part of the game of golf.

When Should You Use a Caddy?

As you’ll see in this post, caddies are a game changer for most golfers. I would recommend using a caddy when possible as it can help your game tremendously. While it might not be financially viable every round, here are a few instances where I would recommend it:

  • Bucket list golf courses. If you’re traveling to somewhere like Pinehurst, Bandon Dunes, or Torrey Pines, hire a caddy. They’ll help you a ton during the round and help turn a great experience into an unforgettable one.
  • Special moments. If you’re playing somewhere cool or with close friends/family, hire a caddy to help make the day even more memorable.
  • Tournament golf. Finally, if caddies are available for competitive events, hiring one is a great idea. They can help you read tricky greens, provide value course insight, take a load off your shoulders (literally) and help calm your nerves.

Golf Caddy Job Description

Now that you know a little more about the history of caddies and when to hire them, let’s dive into the job description itself.

Here are some of the roles and responsibilities of a golf caddy:

1. Dress Like a Caddy

Caddies are easily recognizable at most golf courses as they tend to wear “caddy bibs.” This outfit helps them carry extra things (like snacks, yardage books, golf supplies, etc.) and displays their players name on the back (if they’re working at a professional event). Some courses (like Augusta National) even have specific outfits for caddies, such as the recognizable white jumpsuit.

In general, though, most caddies will wear golf clothes (shorts and a golf polo) with a caddy bib. Caddies do not wear golf shoes though to not interfere with golfers putts on the green. They’ll usually wear comfortable athletic shoes as they’ll be walking 4+ miles and carrying a large bag(s) which is taxing on the body.

2. Understand The Game of Golf

First and foremost, you need to know the game to be a good caddy. It’s not like some jobs where you can just wing it and figure it out in the process. As golfers know their game inside and out, they expect caddies to help them during their round.

While you don’t need to be a scratch golfer or ex-collegiate athlete, you do need to know golf very well. Specifically, you need to know the course (or courses) that you work on, as most players have barely any experience on the track.

Sometimes, caddies have been looping at the same golf course for years, if not decades! These are the most popular type of caddies among golfers because they know basically everything about the golf course.

3. Protect and Clean Golf Clubs

One of the most important roles a caddy has is to protect and clean the golf clubs at all times. This means making sure the bag has plenty of supplies (tees, balls, etc.) and all club grooves are cleaned for their player. Having enough golf balls seems simple enough, but it almost cost Tiger Woods and Steve Williams the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach.

Professional caddies for guys on the PGA Tour need to also ensure there are no more than 14 clubs in the bag as well. Otherwise, this will cost their player penalty shots for having more than the legal limit.

Once the player decides on a club, the caddy will hand it to the golfer and step aside as they hit. Once the shot is complete, the player will hand the club back to the caddy, who will clean the club and sometimes hand their player the club for the next shot. On the green, caddies will clean the players ball to make sure it rolls true.

Caddies almost always carry your bag (or two bags) but some courses allow caddies to use a golf cart as well. It’s 100% dependent on the facility but can help with pace of play.

4. Help Their Players

Aside from carrying the players bag, a caddy does a lot more behind the scenes work. Specifically, caddies will help you…

Locate Golf Balls

One of the most important roles of a caddy is to keep their eye on the golf ball. They usually know the course and conditions well, so it makes it easier to find the players’ ball. This helps keep up the pace of play and also not let their player waste shots from not being able to find their ball.

Hole by Hole Advice

The second thing caddies will do is help their players on each shot. They’ll usually announce on the tee box things like:

  • Wind conditions.
  • If the hole plays uphill or downhill.
  • Where trouble is located on the hole.
  • What distances to carry bunkers and hazards.
  • The ideal landing spot/distance for the player’s tee shot.

Provide Distances

After the player has hit, the next thing caddies hear all day is, “What’s the distance?”

One of the biggest responsibilities of a caddy is to know the distance to the pin and other areas of the green. They’ll usually have a rangefinder and provide distance to the pin, front of the green, and any hazards that could come into play.

Help With Green Reading

While having a caddy help with the tee shot and approach shot strategy is important, green reading is the biggest benefit for most golfers. So many golfers struggle with green reading, but caddies walk the course almost daily, so they can help a ton.

Some caddies will use a green reading book, while others are so seasoned they know the breaks inside and out of each green. They’ll usually provide a start line or apex for the break and more details about the speed as well. From my experience, listen to the caddy 99% of the time!

Stay Out of the Way

Finally, caddies need to always position themselves correctly to not distract their player. Players should let caddies know where you want them to stand on your shot or putt.

Also, according to rule 10.2 by the USGA, “Your caddie must not deliberately stand on or close to an extension of your line of play behind your ball for any reason.”

5. Provide Assistance on the Golf Course

Aside from helping players on each hole, caddies also help with:

  • Fixing divots. They’ll usually have some sand and seed or will replace your divot to help maintain the golf course conditions.
  • Raking bunkers. Caddies are responsible for raking the bunker and making sure it’s in perfect shape for the next group.
  • Repairing ball marks. Caddies will also help repair ball marks on the green that a player might miss.
  • Tend the flagstick. Caddies will also remove the flagstick and tend the pin if needed.
  • Keeping up pace of play. Finally, caddies usually help with pace of play as well. They’ll make sure their group doesn’t get out of place and stays close to the group ahead.

6. Keep an Optimistic Attitude

Finally, caddies need to stay positive and optimistic during the round. Golf is hard enough and it’s their job to provide moral support, even if their game is off.

Professional caddies often act as part-time sports psychologists, trying to keep their player in the right frame of mind. Plus, a good attitude almost always leads to a better tip too.

Work with a Golf Caddy

Hiring a Caddy

After having several caddies when playing at a nice course and on vacation, I can say it makes a huge difference! Especially when you play difficult golf courses like Pebble Beach, Bandon Dunes, and others. Having a caddy can literally save you 5-10 strokes sometimes as they know the right aiming points on the tee, green breaks, and other local knowledge.

How to Find a Caddy

While caddies are incredibly helpful, sadly, they’re not at every golf course. Here are the best ways to find a caddy for your next round:

  • Contact the golf shop. Before looking elsewhere, double check with the pro shop to see if they have caddies on hand. If they say yes, you might need to book them in advance while other courses have some availability on weekends.
  • Use a professional caddy service. Check out resources like Caddie Now or Caddie Master.

Once you find a caddy for the round, make sure to:

Lighten Your Bag

Depending on the golf course, they might carry your bag or have you put your clubs in a lightweight, caddy specific bag. If you do put your clubs in a separate bag, make sure to get plenty of balls, gloves, and other accessories. If they let you use your own bag, make sure you lighten the load from extra clubs, practice aids, and dozens of golf balls.

Meet Up Before the 1st Tee

Before you head to the first tee, make sure to meet up with your caddy in advance. Get to know them and tell them more about your game so they can provide more helpful advice.

Specifically, let them know if you like to play a draw or fade and give them some distances for each club. This will help them learn your average distances faster and allow them to give you better advice on club selection throughout the round.

Listen to Their Advice

This might be hard for some golfers, but when they give advice, listen to them! Remember, you paid good money to get their opinion, so make sure to apply it to your game. A lot of caddies have looped for years (if not longer) and know the course better than you ever will.

Specifically, listen to their advice with green reading. Let them know how you like to hit the putt (dying it in vs. hitting in the back of the cup) and they’ll usually give you a starting point. Then, commit to the read and don’t second guess yourself!

Get to Know Them

You would not believe some of the crazy stories that caddies have from years of looping. Make sure to get to know them, ask about their golf games, and more. Sometimes they’ll share cool stories about looping for celebrities, athletes, and more.

Don’t Blame the Caddy

Unless you’re Jordan Speith, don’t blame your caddy for a mistake on the golf course. At the end of the day, you get to control which club you hit and where you line up a putt. If something goes wrong, don’t blame the caddy – take 100% responsibility yourself.

Tip Well

Finally, make sure to tip your caddy well. These guys (or girls) are out there walking 4+ miles, sometimes in tough conditions, and helping you on the course.

While you almost always have to pay a base fee up front, make sure to tip as well. A good rule of thumb is 30-50% of the green fee.

How to Become a Caddy in Golf

You might be thinking… “How do you become a caddy” or “Do you need golf experience to be a caddy?”

These are great questions to ask. Here’s a quick checklist how to become a caddy:

  • Study golf and master your game. This is a non-negotiable. If you want to become a caddy, you need to know the game inside and out. If you’re a solid player yourself, it’ll make it that much easier to get hired. Read golf books, watch golf on TV, practice, play, and compete to learn a ton about the game.
  • Volunteer at amateur events: If you’ve yet to “loop” a bag, make sure you like it by volunteering for local amateur events. This will help you test the waters and learn the entire caddy process.
  • Reach out to local courses. Once you’re confident in your golf IQ, start reaching out to potential golf clubs to get started. Or, check out Caddie Master as well.

FAQ About Golf Caddies

Do you have even more questions about hiring a caddy (or becoming one yourself)? If so, keep reading our frequently asked questions and answers below.

How much do golf caddies make a year?

This depends greatly on if a caddy works for a professional golfer or loops at local golf clubs. According to Glassdoor, the average pay is around $40,153 per year. Professional caddies usually make much more than average and are paid weekly plus get bonuses. They’ll usually receive 5-10% of players’ winnings as well.

What is a caddy girl?

While caddies have been a primarily male dominated profession, there are now plenty of caddy girls too. One example is Lee Westwood who has his girlfriend on the bag and they’ve found a ton of success together.

Now, there are companies that connect golfers with caddie girls as well. Some of them include;

They can help with normal rounds of golf, tournaments, group outings, and more.

Who is the richest golf caddy?

I think it’s safe to say that Tiger Woods’ ex-caddy, Steve Williams, is the richest caddy in the history of golf. Despite parting ways with Tiger, he was his right-hand man during his best golf years ever.

What is the difference between a forecaddie vs. normal caddie?

A normal caddie will:

  • Carry your bag.
  • Rake bunkers/sand.
  • Locate your golf ball.
  • Help you with distances.
  • Clean your golf clubs and balls.

And more.

While a forecaddie is not a normal caddie, but instead is positioned ahead of the group to locate golf balls. They might also help with raking bunkers and reading greens, but they do not have all the roles and responsibilities of a normal caddy. Only one forecaddie is needed per group.

Are caddies good at golf?

While I can’t say 100% of the time that all caddies are good golfers, I will say in general, yes, they are solid players in their own right. In fact, a lot of caddies on the Korn Ferry and PGA Tour were well respected collegiate players and have played mini tour golf.

Final Thoughts on Caddies

Whenever a caddy is available, I will almost unequivocally say, hire them for the day! Having a caddy helps you stay loose during the round, help you with landing spots, read greens, and more. I’ve used caddies at tough courses like Pebble Beach and can say it made a massive difference to my game.

Plus, they can take pictures and videos to help you remember cherished moments forever. Finally, if you do hire a caddy, make sure you treat them well and tip them based on their performance.

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