golf caddies explained

Golf Caddies: Everything You Need to Know (Complete Guide)

Most professional players usually have a golf caddy and the partnership goes on for years if they are performing well on tour.

Golf caddies can be very important when we’re talking about high stakes tournaments like the PGA tours. The player and the caddy must get along and enjoy the company of each other to perform better and lower their scores.

For the average golfer, having a full-time caddy is not necessary.

However, there are golf courses that offer caddy services to players and other golf courses that make it mandatory you have a caddy in your playing group.

This guide will dive into the history of golf caddies and explain the etiquette of working with a caddy and paying a caddy for his/her services. You’ll learn what golf courses usually offer caddy services and which do not.

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The History of Golf Caddies

As the goal of this post is to pay a tribute to the golf caddies out there, we think it’s only fair if we go over the brief history of how golf caddies came about.

History says that golf players from over 200 years ago started to use caddies! That’s mesmerizing information, right? The first record of using a golf caddy dates back to 1817!

Since then, golf players have realized the importance of having caddies and they eventually become an integral part of the sport.

What are the Jobs of a Caddy?

So, what does a caddy do? Why is this job so important for golf? We’ve already said a few points in our previous sections. Now, it’s time to get in deep with what exactly the job description of a golf caddy is.

The Appearance

This might come as a cliché to a lot of you. But it’s true. A golf caddy’s first job is to dress like a caddy. It’s not like there is a formal dress code for them. However, they should always wear their ‘caddy bibs’ so that other players or spectators can separate them easily from the players.

At major tournaments like the PGA Tours, caddies wear bibs that have the player’s name embroidered or printed on them. This way, the spectators, the players, the commentators, and everyone else knows exactly which player’s caddy they are.

When it comes to local golf courses, you won’t find caddies that wear bibs that have the player’s name printed on them. You can certainly carry one if you like, but we don’t think that would be very likely.

However, they’ll wear the bibs that the course assigns to them. The bibs have a special purpose as well! They are great for carrying things! Caddy bibs may have pockets where the caddy can stash water bottles, wet towels to clean your ball, snacks for the ride, and so on.

In terms of the dress code, there are no regulations. The most famous and luxurious golf courses may have separate uniforms for their caddies. It’s somewhat a personal preference. Augusta National golf course is a great example of such a course.

Lastly, the shoes. Caddies will most likely wear comfortable shoes because a huge part of their job is to carry your bags around throughout the day. Otherwise, they would have a really hard time following you. Also, caddies don’t wear golf shoes because they might interfere with the player’s putts at the green.

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Carry the Bag

It’s probably the most prominent part of a golf caddy’s job description. If you’re a beginner, the only logical reason for you to hire a caddy would be this as well. Because 14 clubs cumulatively have a lot of weight! And it’s extremely hard to carry the bag as well as take continuous shots from the tee, then from the fairway, the rough, the green, and so on.

In major tournaments, one caddy usually takes care of one player. But at a local golf course, a caddy might serve two players at once. It’s their decision to make in most cases unless the course has other policies. And it’s completely normal. If the caddy can serve you and another player at the same time without compromising his/her service, who are we to tell, right?

Cleaning the Clubs

It’s not like you’re going to the course to play 1 hole. If you go into a proper golf course, chances are that you have the ambition to complete all 18 holes. So, it’s only normal that your clubs will get dirty. The grass will leave residue on the club face which can actually harm your short game.

So, a very important part of a golf caddy’s job description is to keep your clubs clean. They know how to do it and they’ll do it right after your shots. It’s the player’s duty to return the club to the caddy after each shot. The caddy will most likely not ask for the club. That’s how things have been.

The caddy will clean the club and put it in the right slot of your bag while simultaneously preparing the next club you’re going to need. They’ll do it intuitively. So, if you have any personal preferences, you need to tell them in advance.

The job of cleaning the clubs also comes with protecting you. Believe it or not, counting that there are exactly 14 clubs in a player’s bag is also part of their job! Because people tend to carry more clubs more often than you would imagine.

And it’s important for caddies to count the clubs before every hole is because if the players carry more than 14 clubs, it’ll cost them points. It won’t matter if you’re not playing at a tournament. But a good caddy will always make sure that the small things are taken care of.

Having a Clear Understanding of Golf

We can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. A caddy’s job is not just to be with you and carry your bags. One of the most crucial parts of their job is to guide you when necessary. Even the bests like Tiger Woods or Rory Mcllroy ask for advice from their caddies.

So, to help you out, the caddy must possess a clear knowledge of the game. He/she must know the proper usage of the right clubs at the right moments. They have to understand how wind and weather can affect your game.

It’s not necessary that the caddy know how to play well. Playing golf well and having a well understanding of golf are two completely different things. More importantly, the caddy should know the course better than the player, period.

Helping You Navigate Around the Course

This point is an extension of our previous one. The caddy will be with you taking notes from your game, finding the distances using the range finders, etc. If you follow professional golf on TV, you’ll notice that the caddies walk in front of the player almost always. Why do you think they do that?

They do it because they need to reach the ball before the player, study the surroundings, make the next club ready for playing, and taking the distance to the flag. A good caddy will do all of these while you walk to the next shot.

Range finders are a caddy’s best friend. If you know how to use one, it would become your best friend too. Because without the proper measurement of the distance, you won’t be able to pick your club correctly.

Another important thing for a caddy is to know where the yard markers are. Most golf courses have them. They’re tremendously important on a cloudy or a foggy day because the range finders won’t be able to return proper numbers to you.

In such cases, the caddy will reach the marker in advance and take the reading for you. Based on whether the ball landed before or after the mark, the caddy will determine the distance manually. It’s one of those qualities you find on more experienced caddies.

Moreover, a caddy’s job is to keep his/her eyes on the ball always. As players hit the ball as hard as they can from the tee or the fairway, it’s not always possible for them to follow the ball due to the abrupt motion of their bodies. The caddy will notice the ball’s location for you from a distance.

Green Reading

So, you’ve completed the first few shots successfully. Now, you’re in the green. The green on a golf course is one of the trickiest parts to master. They might look naïve from the outside with the tightly mowed grass and the smooth surface. In reality, reading the green wrong will hurt your scores.

A good caddy will always be able to read the greens correctly. It’s a learned skill. As players walk all over the green throughout the day, the condition of the grass changes dynamically with time. If you’re just starting out, you won’t be able to spot the difference. But an experienced caddy will.

Providing Advice

If you opt for an experienced caddy, you should be asking him/her for advice at every hole. Because an experienced caddy would have helped hundreds if not thousands of players over the years. It gives them a unique insight into the game. As a player, you must take benefit of that.

If your guts are telling you to hit the ball on the left but your caddy is saying to keep the ball to the right, you should probably go with the right. Because the caddy will know what you’ll hit based on the weather, the wind direction, and the other surroundings.

The angle of the hole will determine how you should play the shot. Whether the hole is on the downhill or on the uphill, how hard is it to find the hole, where the bunkers and roughs are located, etc. insights will come in handy as you approach the flag.

Motivate You

This might sound like a cliché as well. Believe it or not, golf is a more mental sport than a physical sport. If you haven’t realized it already, just give it time to sink in. A caddy knows that. And that’s why it’s very important that they keep you motivated through their enthusiastic and positive attitude.

If you’re a beginner, it’s only normal that you’ll make mistakes. A good caddy will spot the mistakes and help you overcome them positively. They’ll motivate you to channel your focus in the right direction. They’ll offer words of affirmation to improve your self-confidence.

Everything we’ve said in this section may not make sense to you at this moment. But if you’ve never used a caddy on the course before, wait till you do. Then you’ll understand what we’ve been trying to tell you.

Help You Even More

The range of a caddy’s job doesn’t want to end. They can offer their assistance in more ways than you’d imagine.

For example, they’ll fix the divots after your shot. It’s more common for golf course-assigned caddies because they need to keep the course in good condition. Also, when you come around for your next round, you’ll find the ground just as before.

Then, the caddies will rake the bunkers. You may not see it with your eyes, but your caddy might have raked the bunker already. Raking the bunker means smoothing out the sand. It’s important because you don’t want the next player to get stuck in your mess. It puts a bad impression on you as a player.

The caddies often tend the flag as you putt. It’s especially true if the day is particularly windy. Wind can bend the flag and it’s more than enough to distract you at an important moment like putting.

Speaking of putting, it’s quite important that the ball is clean and smooth before you do. Because the surface of the green is extremely smooth and any inconsistencies on the surface can change the direction of the roll. So, the caddy will clean the ball before you put it with the wet towel they have.

When to Use a Caddy?

Up until now, you may have thought that caddies are for professionals. What could a caddy do for you that you already don’t, right? Well, that’s not true in all cases. You can use a caddy at any point in your career as a golf player. Because having a supportive figure around you will only improve your game.

If we have to chalk up a few scenarios where you could benefit from a caddy, we can think of three right now.

A Foreign Golf Course

If you’re a die-hard fan of golf and want to explore as many golf courses around the world as possible, a caddy can help you navigate your way. As we already said, a caddy’s job is to know the ins and outs of a golf course.

So, if you ever find yourself at a foreign course or at one of your dream courses, make sure that you ask for a caddy. That way, you’ll have more freedom to explore around the course and you won’t be tired by pushing your own clubs.

You’re a Professional Player or At Least Have the Ambition to Become One

Professional players and caddies go hand in hand. Every major tournament in the world requires you to have a caddy. If you don’t get one, it would be tremendously hard for you to keep up with other players.

And for this scenario, it’s best if you can find a caddy that fits your specific needs because it’s going to be long-term cooperation. Just like any partnership, getting along with your caddy is very important if you see golf as a major event in your life.

You’re at a Special Occasion

If you have a special day planned out with your golf buddies or your family, having a caddy could make the time more enjoyable. They’ll be able to guide you and your family through the process as well as share the chores with you.

All About Hiring a Caddy

By this point, you may have realized how great caddies are. You may also be intrigued to hire one for the next time you go to the course. But how do you hire one? What’s the process?

Worry not because we’re going to cover that for you as well.

Finding the Caddy

There are two main ways that you can use to find the right caddy for you.

You can either go with the course’s caddy offerings if it has one. Usually, the better the course, the better the caddies you can find there. It also gives you a chance to browse through multiple caddies if you’re looking for a permanent one.

Your next option is to contact your local golf shop. Yes, as odd as it may sound, golf shops offer caddies for players. You can share what you’re looking for and they’ll hook you up with one.

Another lesser-known technique would be to contact fellow golfers. If you have a colleague or a friend who plays golf often, you can ask for recommendations.

Make Sure that You Meet Up First

It’s really not recommended that you meet the caddy just before you hit your first shot. To have an enjoyable experience, it’s important that you know each other a little. So, meet up with your designated caddy before you tee up. Talk about things and get along. It’ll break the ice easily and you’ll learn to trust each other.

Another great tip would be to spend some casual time with them at the course. You can hit a few shots to give them an insight into how you play. They’ll also get enough time to study your playing style. We’re talking about hitting straights, draws, or fades.

As a result, they’ll be able to guide you better during your session. Do we need to emphasize once more that you should listen to them?

Never Blame the Caddy

Listening to your caddy’s advice brings us to our next point. Never blame them! Every human on planet earth makes mistakes. The caddies are humans too. So, if a shot doesn’t go according to your plans, don’t explode.

Don’t Forget to Tip

Let’s go through what a caddy does for you once again. They walk with you the entire time. It’s over 4 miles on an average course. And they’ll carry your bags. They’ll take care of your clubs, clean them, and sort them. They’ll give you water, provide advice, fix your divots, and everything else we’ve mentioned so far.

Don’t you think they deserve a little more than their fee? So, don’t forget to give a generous tip before you leave. A caddy makes just over $40,000 a year. Your tip makes lives a little bit better for them.

Wrapping Up

Now you know everything there is to know about golf caddies. You know what they do, how they can help you, and when you should hire one. You also know how to hire one as well. If you’re interested to see how a caddy can help your game, don’t forget to get one in your next session.

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