How to Golf with a Caddie

You Did It!

You’ve finally secured a tee time at that fancy club you’ve always wanted to play or booked a bucket list trip to a great golf destination.  But now a little panic has set in because caddies are required.  You’ve never had a caddie before, and you’re not sure what to do.

Relax.  We’re here with some straightforward advice about how to enjoy the experience and shoot a great round.

Relax

The number one concern of people who have never used a caddie is, “What if I play badly?”  My answer is, “Don’t worry about it.”

Anyone who has been caddying for more than a month has seen some truly awful golf, so you’re unlikely to be the worst they’ve seen.  More importantly, they don’t care how you play.  Your caddie cares way more about your pace of play and your general demeanor than how well you score.  If you’re a good person, your caddie will be happy to loop for you again.

If “forget about it” doesn’t work for you, then be up front with your caddie.  Let them know you’re nervous so they can help you relax.  Part of caddying is managing your attitude, and they can do a better job if you’re honest about how you’re feeling.

Rule #1

Now that we’ve calmed your nerves, please pay attention to the most important rule: treat your caddie like your own son/daughter/friend.

Your caddie is there to carry your bag.  They are not there to absorb your frustration with how you’re playing and all the bad breaks you’re getting.  This may seem obvious, but unfortunately it needs to be said.

Lighten Your Load

If you typically carry your own bag when you play, you can probably skip this section.  However, if you always ride, pay special attention.

Get the extra junk out of your bag.  Try my advice about carrying fewer clubs (check it out HERE).  Switch from your staff bag to a lightweight carry bag.

At many courses, if you show up with looking like Al Czervik in Caddyshack, they’re going to put your clubs into a carry bag anyway.  Unload the three dozen extra balls, the eight tubes of sunscreen, and your eighteen favorite ball markers.

Follow Their Advice, Ask for More

Your caddie wants to help you play well.  Take their advice.

The biggest value that a caddie provides, in my opinion, is their knowledge of the course.  Especially if you’re at a new track, heed their advice.  Only a local will know that a certain hole plays more uphill than it looks or that you can’t be left of a certain pin.

Also, don’t wait for your caddie to throw out suggestions.  If you want to maximize their value to you, ask for help.  Once you’ve signaled that you want their knowledge, they’ll be more forthcoming with ideas about what shots to hit.

Go Beyond Golf

Dylan Thaemert offered a tremendous addition to this list: don’t limit your caddie interactions to golf.  When we went to Bandon Dunes (much content HERE), we had a tremendous caddie, Dane.  Dylan reminded me that the best part of having Dane with us wasn’t his reads or his yardages – though both were otherworldly – it was his collection of stories.  He educated us on the history and culture of the place and told us stories that I’ll be retelling for years.

Especially when you travel, let your caddie be your personal historian.  Your caddie may know the history of the place – both the written and unwritten – better than anyone.

Don’t Be Cheap

Finally, call ahead and find out what the expected caddie fee and gratuity is at the course you’re playing.  Make sure you have at least that amount in cash.

When you stop for snacks, make sure to offer something to your caddie.

Finally, if you’re not taking a caddie, don’t expect any service.  The guy who is constantly asking someone else’s caddie for yardages and reads is the worst.  It’s not only disrespectful to the caddie, it’s also rude to whoever is paying him or her.

What Did We Miss?

Do you regularly golf with a caddie?  What advice do you have for your fellow golfers?  Share it in the comments section below.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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6 Comments

  1. Golf is way too expensive as it is. Courses that require you to use a caddie need to go the way of the dodo.

  2. I rake my own bunkers and EVERY caddie appreciates it. I insist upon it. A caddie should not rake a bunker unless it’s speeding up play in my view.

  3. Matt- this is a great piece. I caddied decades ago for five years at Riverside Country Club west of Chicago and was fortunate to receive an Evans Scholarship. I agree with all your points but one-I always cared about how my member or guest played as I believed I was a partner who contributed to their success- I was happy when they had a good or great round and displeased when they had an off day . This was not only because tips were better with performance and gambling wins but it made the round more interesting and created a bond beyond employer- employee.

  4. charles sinacole

    if you belong to a golf club already and your not a normally cheap dude, and you tip the guy in the bag shack that has your clubs already on the cart for you prior your tee time, then tipping a caddie at another course wont be a foreign behavior to you. just treat him right, and not like a second class citizen, they are there to work and help you have a great day, not to be your slave.

  5. Excellent. Well said. As a caddie, I should have my guests read this on the way to the range.

  6. Brandon young kids and some young adults make a very good living doing a service like caddie ..so for you to say that is just plan ignorant..if its to expensive i suggest u play the courses that do not require to use a caddy..and hopefully my son NEVER GETS YOU..as i could imagine u stiffing him

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