Q: What is their work schedule?
A: It lasts for as long as a golfer will have you, and for as many tournaments as he or she plays. But the average is about 30 weeks a year, although some caddies will tote for other golfers to pick up extra work. So, what about the other 22 weeks of the year?
“Whatever comes up,” said Joe Skovron, Rickie Fowler’s caddie since the 22-year-old went pro two years ago. “You take care of things at home that maybe you aren’t able to take care of on the road. Maybe play a little golf.”
Q: What does their typical tournament week entail?
A: Tournaments are usually six- or seven-day weeks. They walk the course on Monday or Tuesday, confirming yardages. Tuesday is typically a full practice day, including a round of usually nine holes. Wednesday is often a professional-amateur round (not at Bridgestone), and the four-day tournament starts on Thursday.
Q: How much do they make?
A: As independent contractors, caddies and their bosses — the players — negotiate their pay. On average, according to Dennis Cone, president and founder of the Professional Caddies Association, caddies make about $1,000 per week while on tour, plus a share of the winnings. Caddies generally earn 5 percent if their player makes the cut, 7 percent for a top-10 finish and 10 percent for a tournament win.
The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational pays the winner $1.4 million, meaning the man lugging the bag potentially pulls in a sweet $140,000. Finish at or near the top consistently and a caddie can find himself in rarefied air. Steve Williams, former caddie for Tiger Woods and now caddying for Adam Scott, is reportedly a million-dollar man.
By the way, last place at Bridgestone paid $30,750 last year. Five percent of that is about $1,500. Not shabby for a week on the golf course, but caddies usually cover their own travel expenses, lodging, meals, insurance and other fees. So, for every Williams there’s a Williams wanna-be.
Q: How much does that bag weigh?
A: “Depends on how they’re playing,” said Damon Green, Zach Johnson’s caddie for eight years and a professional golfer himself. (Green tied for 13th in the U.S. Senior Open last week in Toledo.) “If they’re playing good, [the bag is] light. If they’re playing bad, it’s really heavy.”
A bag weighs anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds, with clubs and gloves, maybe a dozen balls, an umbrella, rain gear for each, drinks and snacks and first-aid items, such as bandages and pain relievers.
Q: What does a caddie do besides carry the bag and towel a golfer’s clubs and ball between shots?
A: It’s more like, what doesn’t a caddie do?
“They could get anybody to carry a bag,” said Dan Weigand, editor of the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology and co-author of “Caddy-Talk: Psychology of Being a Great Golf Caddy.” “What we found is a caddie is very much an on-course psychologist, biochemist, nutritionist, physiologist, counselor, friend. It really depends on the what the player needs from the caddie.”