In golf, a caddy (or caddie) is the person who carries a player's bag, and gives insightful advice and moral support. A caddy is aware of the challenges and obstacles of the golf course being played, along with the best strategy in playing it. This includes knowing overall yardage, pin placements and club selection.
The records are not certain, but historians believe that Mary, Queen of Scots, came up with the term "caddy" in the late 16th century. Mary grew up in France where military cadets carried golf clubs for royalty. It is possible that Mary brought the custom to Scotland, where the term evolved into the word "caddy."
Alternatively, the word "caddy" may have originated from the Malay word 'kati'. Kati is a measure for tea leaves and is printed on boxes used to carry and collect the tea leaves, hence its use in terms reflecting carrying and collecting.
Also, the word may have originated from the Welsh term "cad", which is a "battle", "contest", or "test", such as the Cad Goddeau.
Types of Caddying
Traditional caddying involves both the golfer and the caddy walking the course. The caddy is in charge of carrying the player’s bag and both the caddy and the golfer walk at the same pace. This is the most common method used in golf clubs and is the only method allowed in the PGA (Professional Golf Association) and LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association).
Fore-caddying is a type of caddying where the caddy is always ahead of the golfer, marking their shots where they land. The caddy will start out a hole by running to the landing spot of their golfer’s tee shot. The job of the caddy is to mark the ball with a towel, stick, etc. so that the golfer does not have to waste time searching for it. If the hole is long and requires multiple shots before the golfer can reach the "green" (the putting surface at the end of each hole), then the fore-caddy will go ahead to the next landing area and mark his/her golfer’s ball until the ball reaches the green. Once the golfer is on the green, the fore-caddy maintains regular caddy duties like raking sand traps and taking the pin out of the cup. After the golfer is finished putting on the green, the fore-caddy returns to his/her duties and heads out to the next hole’s landing spot. This routine continues for the remainder of the course. The main purpose of this type of caddying is to let the golfers ride in carts if they are unable to walk the course with a caddy.
Cart-caddying, a type of fore-caddying, consists of a caddy driving a cart for the entire round of golf. The main job of the caddy is to drive ahead of the walking golfer and mark their ball before they get there. Getting to the ball first, the caddy can determine what type of shot the golfer should play.
The main duty of a caddy is to carry the player's bag. Other common duties include:
- cleaning clubs and golf balls
- raking bunkers and sand traps
- obtaining yardages
- replacing/repairing “divots” (chunks of the fairway)
- tending and removing the pin/flag
Other duties which caddies are obligated to do if experienced enough are:
- reading greens
- helping with club selection
Caddies must be alert at all times. Any penalty caused by the caddy is added on to his/her golfer’s score. The caddy should be aware of his surroundings at all times, especially when players are hitting. Standing in other golfers’ lines of putting or lines of sight while they are hitting a ball is strongly discouraged. Also, the caddy is expected to know the rules and point out any rule-breaking on the part of the golfer, such as knowing the maximum amount of clubs a player is allowed to carry. A caddy on the PGA Tour, Miles Byrne, became famous when he forgot to count the clubs in Ian Woosnam's bag (only 14 allowed) before the final round of the British Open. His mistake cost Woosnam two strokes and possibly the championship.
Caddies are most frequently employed at clubs on weekends, when the majority of country club golf takes place. Some (but usually not as many) opportunities to caddy exist during the week, as well. Additionally, caddies are often allowed to play the course at which they caddy for free, usually on a Monday (the day that most private clubs choose to close their course for maintenance). On pro golf tours, professional caddies accompany their player to all events, which usually take place from Thursday through Sunday. Additionally, the player may hire their caddy to carry their bag for them during training sessions and practice rounds.
At most clubs, caddies are paid at the end of the round by cash, or receive a payment ticket for which they can redeem their wages in the clubhouse. Generally, the player will tip the caddy based on their performance during the round, with extra money given for exemplary work. Most American club caddies earn between $40 and $60 per bag, though newer caddies will often earn less and more experienced caddies or caddies working during a tournament or high-stakes match will often earn significantly more, upwards of $100 per round at times. It is considered acceptable to ask a professional at the course what the average pay for a caddie is, as courses differ.
In a professional golf tour setting, a player often pays their caddy a percentage of their winnings, which can be as high as 10%. The caddy also usually receives a salary, as the player may not be guaranteed to win money at every tournament the player enters.