Many amateur golfers who realize their chance of making it as a professional is quite slim will start to set their eyes on becoming a professional caddie.
Caddies are known to make a lot of money, but how exactly are they paid?
The answer to this question may surprise you.
Not all caddies are going to be quite as successful as you think.
In addition, many of the things that a caddy does every week are not the things you may like to do.
Let’s take a more in-depth look into what caddies make and how this can impact their financial well-being in the long term.
Do Caddies Make A Percentage Of The Winnings?
Yes, Caddies make a percentage of the winnings that a professional makes.
For a top ten finish, a caddie can typically expect to make about 7% of the total paycheck.
For a win, you will often see a caddie take a full 10% of the winning check.
Caddies that help their player make money will get about 5% of the total payout.
This is some motivation for caddies to help their players shoot lower scores.
When a caddie can get a player to the top of the leaderboard through great yardages and impressive support, the chance of everyone making extra money is relatively high.
Many caddies rely on their player to play well to collect a big check.
However, there are other caddies that are also on salary.
The thing about professional golf is that nobody is guaranteed a paycheck.
For players, this is an adjustment they have been trained to make, but it can be tough for a caddy.
It’s hard to go out there and travel and try to be supportive, and know that you might not make any money.
Depending on who the player is and how well established they are, you will see that some caddies are paid a salary and all expenses.
Some caddies, like those that work for Tiger Woods and other top players, are multi-millionaires because of the work they have done on the PGA Tour.
What Do Professional Caddies Do?
Now that you know you can make millions of dollars a year as a PGA tour caddie, it may make you a bit more interested in the process and all involved.
We are going to break down some of the most important roles that golf caddies take and why it’s a good thing they are paid the percentages that they are.
1. Carrying Clubs
The main job of a caddy is to carry golf clubs.
However, this is just a very small part of what a caddy does.
Caddies are much more involved in the lives of a golfer, the games they play, and assisting them to be the best players they can be.
If you plan on making it as a caddy, you will need to be able to physically carry golf clubs.
The clubs players on the PGA Tour use are not lightweight, and they typically pick a large staff bag to help them get around the course.
Carrying clubs this size takes some physical ability, and players have to work to get to this fitness level.
Carrying clubs with a double shoulder strap and a 4-pound golf bag is an entirely different project than the one that caddies take on.
If you can’t walk up a hill carrying your own clubs, it will be tough to make it as a caddy.
2. Managing Equipment
In addition to carrying the clubs, the caddies have to keep the clubs clean and ensure they do not get damaged.
In addition to just the golf clubs in the bag, there are other important tools in there as well.
Things like golf balls, gloves, and even a jacket must be properly managed for the player.
All of their gear is held by the caddies so that the golfer can just focus on their game.
Managing equipment is a big part of the process, but it takes time to learn the preferences of a player.
Some players are particular about how they want golf clubs placed in the bag or how they want clubs cleaned.
Some golfers expect caddies to know when it is time for new grips and to handle this process independently.
Many golfers have to wear specific clothing and display certain equipment because of their sponsors, and caddies can help to ensure that this is done the right way.
Managing equipment for professionals is a big process, and it even includes things like golf shoes and the player’s travel gear.
The goal for any caddy is to allow their golf professional to focus specifically on their game and to handle everything else on their own.
If your current golf bag is a disheveled mess, you may struggle with being able to caddy for a professional and keep all of their gear in place.
Caddies often help golfers with scheduling.
The caddy has a very clear timeline of events for the week and will ensure that players stay up to the minute with anything they need to do.
In addition to practicing and playing to prepare for the week’s events, there are other obligations, meetings, and appointments that need to be met.
Many caddies work as an assistant in this regard and help to keep the player on track as they make their way from one tournament to the next.
In fact, there are plenty of caddies out there that would tell you their job is much better described as an assistant than anything else.
4. Mental Help
Caddies can be very good at helping a player to stay on track mentally.
Many golfers tend to get in their own heads and focus on the negative as opposed to the positive.
With the help of a golf caddy, players can keep their minds positive and focus on winning the event.
Golfers and caddies work together to come up with strategies that work for them.
Some players like a very involved caddy that chooses clubs and tells the player how and where to hit a shot.
Other players want to play their game and simply have the caddy give them a number or a line but not any other information.
Caddies and players have to build an excellent relationship if they want to work well together on the golf course.
For instance, if a player is sensitive about being told the speed of the greens, they may want to ensure the caddy stays quiet about speed.
This same player may then want information about reading the putt but not necessarily speed.
These simple idiosyncrasies can cost players and caddies lots of money, and that is why it’s so important to work things out.
5. Course Assistance
Golf course assistance is also provided by the caddy.
Although there is no longer a rule that the flag must come out when a player is putting, many golfers still do it.
A caddie can be the one to pull the pin for the player and give them the full cup to putt into.
In addition, if a golfer hits their ball into the sand trap, the caddy is typically the one that rakes it.
The more you watch caddies, the more you will see how they are always anticipating the needs of a professional on the golf course.
Caddies have water or a towel nearby in an instant, and they often are very good with rules and decisions and are quick to be able to help when a problem comes up.
We have also seen caddies do an excellent job of watching the golf ball when it is hit into a poor spot.
Caddies watch the ball and then help the player find it so that there are no penalty shots assessed.
In the example of a professional tournament, when there are spectators around, a caddy will often make sure that all spectators are quiet or are out of the way before a player swings.
This type of on-the-course assistance makes it so that the player can concentrate, even though that is very difficult to do during one of these events.
6. Yardages And Putts
Another important job of the caddy is to give a golfer information on the yardage to the hole and the way the putt is going to break.
Professional golfers and caddies will spend a few days together before the start of an event, and they will look at the entire golf course and try to learn it as best they can.
Particular attention will be paid to the slope on the greens, as well as distances to trouble.
Players want to know exactly which club they should hit on a layup shot or which club to hit into a green, based on the slopes.
Some golf courses are going to play considerably differently than others, and this learning process can take both players and caddies quite a bit of time to work on together.
Luckily the caddy is usually a real expert at getting a player accurate yardage.
In addition, golf professionals and their caddies know exactly how far they hit the golf ball, so they can easily pick the right club.
Golfers that play professionally also have the ability to control the ball flight pretty well.
Caddies may recommend a player keep the ball flight down or hit it high to try and take into consideration other climate or course-related conditions.
For instance, if it is windy, the caddy will decide how much this will impact the shot, and they will adjust their club selection accordingly.
7. Player Support
The overall player support that the caddy offers is kind of difficult to explain.
Caddies are the right-hand man or woman for professional golfers.
Without the help of the caddy, it would be hard for professionals to accomplish what they do.
There is a great deal of time and effort that goes into being a caddy.
They have to understand and anticipate what a player needs.
You will see that when professional golfer finds a caddy they like, they will often stick with them for years.
This relationship is a tough one to get to work, and when it does, player and caddy will want to stick together.
Is It Hard To Be A PGA Tour Caddy?
Sometimes looking at the career of a PGA Tour caddy can make you feel like you are in the wrong industry.
These caddies get to carry clubs around and can sometimes make millions of dollars a year!
However, there is much more to being a caddy than that, and it actually can be a really difficult job.
Here are a few things that make the job of a PGA Tour caddy more difficult than you may think.
Professional golfers play golf almost every week during the season, and they travel all around the country.
This type of extensive travel is really difficult, and it can wear on a golfer.
However, some people enjoy it and get used to it.
It’s hard to be on the road all the time and live out of a suitcase or a car.
Many caddies are younger because of this, as it has an impact on their family life.
2. No Guaranteed Money
Many caddies have no weekly salary and hope that their player has a great week.
However, golfers that don’t make it to the weekend don’t make money.
This means a caddy may go to a tournament and spend money on travel and time supporting the player just to have to do it again the following week.
Of course, there are times that the player has a great event, and the caddy walks away with $100,000, but this is not all that often.
There are more professional golfers and caddies that are struggling than those that are thriving.
If you need a job where you are going to have guaranteed money, a caddy is not the right choice.
3. Lack Of Control
Another tough part about being a caddy is the lack of control you have when it comes to scoring and winning.
Sometimes if a golfer is struggling to make a putt or can’t hit a drive straight, it becomes very frustrating for the caddy.
In these situations, there is nothing that can be done.
Caddies need to continue to support their player and work hard to get their game back to the level it can be.
It’s hard to do this when your paycheck is on the line.
Caddies are known to get quite stressed out by players that are struggling, but of course, they can’t show this.
The mental aspect of golf makes the caddy-player relationship even more fragile, and players have to learn how to navigate it appropriately.
4. Never In Spotlight
Some caddies are good at being the person behind the scenes without getting much credit for success.
Others feel as though this is unfair and would rather that they are the ones in the spotlight.
If you are ok with not getting very much recognition for the work you put in, a caddy can be a great job.
If instead, you like to receive accolades and attention, the caddy position is a tough one.
Try to keep in mind that the more your player does well, the more it says about the job you are doing as their support team.
Many players will mention their caddy by name when they win a tournament, but they will also call them out at times if there are mistakes.
Hopefully, you can now see how caddies are supportive of their players, and it pays off when they get a substantial cut of their winnings.
If your professional makes a million dollars in a tournament, a caddy can win as much as $100,000.
This is a big paycheck for a single weekend, more than most will make in a year.
Being a PGA Tour caddy is a unique job, and it is extremely rare.
The next time you see a professional tour caddy, you may understand a bit more about them and what their role is.