Next time you’re out for a game and considering using the services of a caddy, there are a few things to keep in mind. Remember, this decision could make or break your round.

Caddies have been around since the game first began. They range from the humble bag carrier to the higher end of the food chain — tour caddies, or “yardage and wind consultants” as they prefer to be called. They come in all shapes and sizes, from all sorts of backgrounds and display a wide array of talents. But what makes a good caddy and how should you choose yours?

Well, I guess that depends on who is answering. From a caddy’s perspective, a good caddy has the ability to land a “top bag,” one that pays a premium price, and gets around quickly while doing the least amount of work and putting up with the minimum amount of hassle. And from the player’s point of view, it really depends on the balance of what you want versus what you actually need. Golfers are a fickle bunch so perception often beats reality.

“Tim”

A low-digit player looking to shoot a decent score will benefit from a knowledgeable and experienced caddy like Tim. Tim is as close to a pro tour looper as you are likely to get. He is enthusiastic without overstepping the mark and will give you accurate yardages to the pin, good reads on the green, local knowledge and course management advice all day long. He is dressed like a pro with a tour hat and wraparound shades and he knows every blade of grass on the course. He’ll tell you that he just missed out on landing Jordan Spieth’s bag but is still hopeful at looping on the PGA Tour next year. He is pretty confident that he could beat you with one arm tied behind his back and he has no respect for hackers whatsoever.

“Bob”

If you are an occasional golfer with low expectations and you are playing a fun game with friends on a prestigious course, then you will probably want Bob. He’s one of those older veteran loopers, and if he actually turns up, you are in for an experience.

Bob is one of life’s colorful characters. Yes, he may have a slight drinking problem, but he’ll navigate your round and give you and your partners something to laugh about and remember. He’ll regale you with stories and tales, tell you fascinating and mostly fantasized insights into the history of the course, mock your lack of ability, high five your better plays and at the end, you’ll tip him well and shake his hand. But you’ll make sure to wash your hands afterwards.

“Bruce”

If you are out with important clients then you’ll want Bruce. He reads situations very well and knows when to shut up and back off. He is incredibly efficient and courteous and will keep you and your fourball on track. He will carry tees, pencils, a rangefinder and will know today’s weather forecast. He will clean your clubs and call you sir all day long. He wants to please and appreciates that a good round may land you some business. He may actually commit murder for you; you only have to ask. So treat him well.

“Jim”

If you are a regular then you will probably get Jim. Jim is like your wife; he’ll tell you what to do and is not afraid to speak his mind. Don’t question his club selection or reads or he’ll walk off on you. And don’t get on the wrong side of Jim; you are lucky that he decided to loop for you at all. Jim is a lifer and looping is his chosen career. He doesn’t put up with any nonsense and will tell you that he is the best jock on the ranch. He knows his worth and will probably demand a tip at the end. Just hand him your wallet and let him decide how much he takes out.

“Lenny”

If you don’t care or you are a newbie, then you will probably get someone like Lenny. Lenny is a bag carrier and he also works down at the factory or is out of school for the summer. He cares less about you and your game and can normally be found at least 20 yards behind you throughout your round. His expectations are low, so yours should be as well. If you ask him if a 5 iron will be enough club, Lenny will give you a vacant, soulless stare that confirms that you are on your own. Just make sure you count your clubs afterwards as he may have left a few in a bunker on No. 16. But if you just want a servile and semi-mute bag carrier, Lenny’s your man. You’ll probably feel sorry for him afterwards and tip him so he can buy a burger to put on some weight.

A tip in helping you choose

Build a relationship with the caddymaster. Don’t underestimate the importance of his role. He is the recruitment consultant in this process. Yes, it turns out you are an employer for the day. Tipping him in advance to give you a good caddy will make a world of difference. Get on his wrong side and he has a host of Lennys to offer.

Remember that a good caddy is like a good waiter or landscaper. Choose wisely, treat them well and they will look after you. Treat them like garbage and they’ll give you the service you deserve.

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Mark Donaghy is a writer and author from Northern Ireland, living in the picturesque seaside town of Portstewart. He is married to Christine and they have three boys. Mark is a "golf nut," and is lucky to be a member of a classic links, Portstewart Golf Club. At college he played for the Irish Universities golf team, and today he still deludes himself that he can play to that standard.

He recently released Caddy Attitudes: 'Looping' for the Rich and Famous in New York. It recounts the life experiences of two young Irish lads working as caddies at the prestigious Shinnecock Hills course in the Hamptons. Mark has a unique writing style, with humorous observations of golfers and their caddies, navigating both the golf course and their respective attitudes. Toss in the personal experiences of a virtually broke couple of young men trying to make a few bucks and their adventures in a culture and society somewhat unknown to them... and you have Caddy Attitudes. From scintillating sex in a sand trap to the comparison of societal status with caddy shack status, the book will grab the attention of anyone who plays the game.

Caddy Attitudes is available on Amazon/Kindle and to date it has had excellent reviews.

18 COMMENTS

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  1. I am a caddie, currently. I have worked as a caddie only as an adult, from 22 until 33 currently. I worked at Whistling Straits, a private club in Naples, FL, back and forth between those two for 7 years, then to a private club in NJ, on NY harbor, then a private club on the north shore of Long Island, and now at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. I am very much a professional, I can be the “tour” caddie that a low single digit player wants, with as much or as little knowledge and advice as you want, I can be the scramble format fun gun drinking and telling jokes all day, I know when to shut up and when to laugh and have fun. I will openly admit that I don’t get every single read correct all the time, however there are WAY more d-bag players that want to blame a read for a poorly struck putt. Many many times those missed putts are the players fault, not the read they were given. That is maybe the only frustrating aspect of this business. I love my job, and love helping average golfers play their best rounds on the courses I’ve worked. I have had countless “best round of my life thanks to you” comments from satisfied guests/members. That makes it all worth while. I have seen 12 holes in one. I personally called the club for the player on 8 of them. There is a lot of pride in being a great caddie, knowing the course, knowing ball flights and how wind and elevation will affect shots, and syncing with a player and dropping putt after putt. There are 3 lines to make any putt on, the die line, the firm line, and the “normal pace” line. Knowing which style putter you are makes me a better caddie. If I say a ball out firm, and you die it, its gonna break across the hole and miss low EVERY SINGLE TIME. Same with a cup and half outside dying, if you firm it on that line, there is no chance it will move a cup and a half. Very few players will acknowledge this, those that do earn my utmost respect.
    End of rant haha :)

  2. Since you were a Shinny boy, its sounds like you wrote about Norm, Ray, and Alaskan Bob. As a long time looper on the East End of Long Island, remember to tip your starter, if you do, you will not just get a bag humper that is useless. Also, choose your guests wisely. The fast track to getting a terrible bottom of the barrel looper is to bring out a d-bag. Based upon this article, I guess that I’m a cross between Tim, Bruce, and Jim. It truly is the greatest summer gig that you can have as a youngster. You come across so many characters that it is a summer full of cash, craziness, and laughs.

  3. Personally I tend to hate caddies at high end public courses. Almost every one of them thinks they know a players game before the round even starts, especially the younger guys. Many of them are just plain arrogant and have no problem saying…”you pushed that one a bit” when they totally miss a read. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some decent ones but they tend to be retired guys who want to get outside and work a little. At my home course we use forecaddies all the time and sometimes walking caddies. I prefer the high school/college kids that work hard to find balls, rake traps, and repair ballmarks over the high end course types that try to read putts and tell me what club to hit. I also hate when members treat the caddies like garbage by ignoring them or getting mad about a lost ball. If you play at a course where younger kids caddie make it a point every few holes to talk to them, find out about them, and make them feel included in the group just a little bit. It takes one walk to the fairway from the tee every four holes to show a kid some general respect. If they are making mistakes during the round try to help them by giving them a little feedback in a nice way so they can get better.

  4. What about “Steve”
    Carries your bag and your 2 mobile phones; one for business, one for the ladies.
    Later on, pretends he knows nothing of this. Type A personality.
    May get a little racist amongst his piers or write a book about you.

  5. This seems to be the 4 types of good caddies you get and the 1 bad caddie. You could identify the 5 types of terrible caddies in a separate article: Four-Eyes, Walter, Josh, and Bennie (who wont shut up about giving you his line right as you are standing over a putt and already know he’s wrong cause he blew the read on one)

  6. Caddying was my first job. Started when I was 11 years old. I wish everyone who golfed had the opportunity to caddy. It teaches you to care—care about where you’re standing, care about being polite, and care about taking care of the course. It fine tunes your ability to be considerate. Wish these things were more common in the game of golf today.

  7. Caddy story: Two days at Bandon Dunes Resort… same caddy. Day one was sunny, perfect. He gave good clubbing advice and could read the greens like Brandt Snedeker. Shared my flask of single-malt scotch with him. He still wouldn’t let me walk 5 feet into a sensitive ecological area to retrieve my brand new Titleist. Forgave him.

    Next day winds are 30 mph and the rain is coming down sideways at Pacific Dunes. Only 7 golfers venture onto the course, only one finishes. Caddy wanted to quit after 15 holes and walk in. Chastised him and said I would carry my own bag. He stuck it out. It was the Christmas season… tipped him $100.

  8. I started Caddying when I was 11 and did it all the way through college. I cannot put into enough emphasis on how awesome those experiences were and how they influenced my life. I would love to be faced with more options to even GET a Caddie- Unfortunately these are as rare as US Ryder Cup victory these days. Can we get an Article or the catalyst of a movement to bring Caddying back!? yes I know too much revenue passed up by the courses etc. but the upsides far out weigh the negatives. Please take a caddie when ever you can! Someone has to pay for “Bob’s” vice!

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