But the caddy is the person who walks around and carries the golfer’s bags, right? Surely that’s not a full-time job!
Whilst carrying the bag is part of the caddy’s more traditional role, their actual job description is a whole lot more complicated than that. They are a confidante, a playing partner, a right-hand-man and an advisor to the professional golfer, and the close ties between golfer and caddy are testament to the difference they can make to a game. In short, they can make the difference between winning and losing a tournament, and in a competitive sport, that means everything!
Part of the role is menial – carrying the bag, cleaning the ball, raking the bunkers, replacing divots and holding the flag are all basic caddy duties, but the real skill in caddying lies in helping their golfer to determine the distance to the pin, in advising them on club use and informing them how their game is holding up, as well as how they think it could be improved. A lot to do then!
Salary & benefits
At an amateur level, caddies often work for golf clubs, and will walk round with patrons to help them with their game, and are thus paid in cash by each round they work – usually between £25 and £80 per round, depending on performance and skill. In competitive play, this rises, to close to £100 a round.
In a professional setting, this changes. A player will often keep their caddy year-round, and on top of a standard salary that depends on how much the player is making, the caddy is usually given a cut of the winnings. The common scale, is 5% when the player makes the cut, 7% for a top 10 finish and 10% of the winnings for a win. Given the prize money at The Open is £1,150,000, Zach Johnson’s caddy will have picked up a tidy little £115,000. Easy money.
Considering that golf is a game that cannot be played at night time, most caddy work takes place in the day, but weekends are the most popular time for the game to be played and at club level this is the most profitable time for a caddy to work. Weekday work is available but is far more rare, and it stays weekend-heavy until it reaches a professional level.
Most golf clubs use a ranking system for caddies, where they must work their way up the rankings. To become a Championship level caddy, players are usually in the business for between six and ten years, which is a long time working in an amateur profession but one that does have many rewards.
Training & progression
A lot of progress is self-made and, as in many sporting endeavours, practice is the key to success. The more a caddy knows and the more rounds he works, the more knowledgeable he becomes about the nuances of the game.
As caddies are basically recommended from their clubs to the professionals, it is only through consistent good performance and a knowledge of the game that you’d get put forward so it’s a performance based role and one that can move extremely quickly from amateur to professional. It will take drive, guts and patience, but if you believe, the road to caddying greatness is straight down the fairway.