What Caddies Say Behind Your Back

For many of you, playing golf with a caddie is one of the most stressful and nerve-racking things you can think of.

And I'm not going to lie -- caddies can be judgmental and share some choice words when you're out of earshot.

You might be surprised, however, to learn exactly what they're saying...and the simple things you can do to ensure you both have a positive experience.

Yes, caddies talk amongst themselves about the players they carry for, but they're not commenting on your swing. The reality is, as ugly as you think your move is, they've seen worse. And as good as you think you are, they've seen better.

Rather, they are more likely griping about the three pounds of unnecessary "water balls" you didn't think to remove from your bag; your annoying iron headcovers they have to fiddle with; or that you didn't even ask if they wanted a bottle of water at the turn.

It's these and other things that cause tension and stress between caddies and players.

So, whether you use caddies often, rarely, or you're preparing for that inevitable first time, you will have a much better experience if you follow these three simple rules:

1. Relax.
Again, you're probably most stressed about someone watching, judging (or potentially laughing about) your swing, but caddies have seen it all.

More important is that you don't slow the group down. Not to take all the romance out of it, but like anyone else in business, time is money for caddies. They are just trying to get through the round as efficiently as possible so they can get paid and grab another loop...or get paid and leave for the day.

So, hit the ball as many times as you like (within reason), but do it briskly. Keep in mind, too, a caddie's sole purpose is to help you play well, so thinking of them as your teammate ("it's us against the golf course") can help settle you down.

2. Be Considerate.
This starts by acknowledging the caddie; a friendly introduction and small talk about the course will start things off on the right foot. (It's also a great way to gauge how much experience your caddie has, which is important for #3 below.)

And remember those water balls? Take them and everything else you don't need out of your bag to lighten the load. In a bunker? Try to minimize the amount of footprints your caddie needs to rake. Buying food/drinks at the turn? Offer something to your caddie. It will likely be turned down, but the gesture will be appreciated. And regardless of what you see on tour, always hand your clubs to your caddie; never toss or drop them on the ground for him/her to pick up.

3. Be Firm.
Don't misconstrue the above consideration for coddling. At the end of the day, your caddie works for you, so you have every right to expect service with a smile.

For a bag-carrying caddie (not a forecaddie) this includes providing distances, handing and cleaning clubs, reading greens, tending flags, washing balls, raking bunkers, and replacing divots. They should also honor your preferences regarding each.

It's probably best to allow caddies a few holes to prove themselves before you decline or disregard their services or advice, but if you'd prefer not to have their help with, say, green reading or club selection from the outset, definitely say so (politely) before you tee off.

Managing expectations instead of playing the guessing game will better serve everyone involved, especially when it comes to compensation. So, while a double-bag carrying caddie may expect $40-$80 per bag (or $50-$100+ for a single bag) you can adjust to reflect the amount and quality of services provided.

So...relax, be considerate, and be firm and the only thing caddies will be saying about you -- or to you -- is how much they'd like to accompany you on another round.

What's your best advice for playing with a caddie?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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Commented on

I have Josh Parrish every trip at Pebble Beac for the last 10 years. He is often double and triple booked so you would be lucky to get him. .. I have had top caddies at the best courses and Josh is by far the best. He gives perfect information and takes lots of pictures.

Commented on

Remember guys one last thing. When you are going to a big resort. You pay caddie fees. These fees are divided three ways typically. The resort gets their about 15%. The caddie company, contracted by the resort gets about 45%. Then the remaining 40 goes to the caddie. So when your tipping your caddie remember they don't get all the fee.

Commented on

I've played with caddies in several different countries and on numerous occasions always a pleasant day. Love the comment about treating the caddie as you would like being treated yourself.
If you are experienced don't be afraid to offer up a little advice to players that haven't used a caddie. All will appreciate it.

Commented on

I had a caddie named Moze on a links course near Tunica MS, I hit a fairway wood on my second shot on a par 5 that was over a slight rise. Moze had told me to stay to right side of fairway. Not bad I thought, ball appeared to be heading down what should have been center of fairway. Moze asked 'your ball swim', he saw my puzzled look and added 'it better, it in da water'.

Commented on

@Kathy H

At (Golfzoo) they treated well and assists you in a nice way they also offer affordable golf courses and golf packages try to visit their site its interested I also tried it :)

Commented on

I like to tell my caddie exactly what I would and would NOT like from him/her. It is always appreciated. I DO try to be as generous and considerate as I can be, as per your suggestions.
I find that some of my playing partners, with whom I may share a caddie, are unhappy because the caddie "talks too much" or gives "tips". My theory is that unless you tell them what you want and need, they may continue to annoy you. So SPEAK UP! How can they accommodate you if they don't know your needs?

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99.9999% of players are not good at this game. That makes the caddie's job difficult. When you magically flush that 160 club for a 145 shot uphill over the green and groan it was too much club .... Really? I wasn't over clubbing. I was allowing for
Error. Plus hitting more club and swing with control is the way to play. Also any amateur who really blames a caddie for bad reads is a jerk. You want to make
More putts? Practice. Also get the ball to the hole. Miss on the high side. If you miss
On the low side every time you will never make a putt

Commented on

I played a late PM round at St. Andrews, and as a single, I had to tote my own bag because the caddy master had run out of loopers for that day. This was my first and only round at the Old Course, so of course I was disappointed. But one of caddies in our four ball volunteered advice now and then throughout the round and frankly saved me! Great young man. On the other hand, an older, experienced caddy at Pebble was about the worst caddie ever. He had a bad, grumbly attitude from the start, and even after I shared my average shot distances with him, dover-clubbed me every shot. He also gave me a terrible target on hole number 8, way left of where I should have been aiming. Then on my second shot on 18, I still kick myself for listening to him again. I took the 5-wood he gave me ("because of the wind") and hit it through the back left bunker and into the Pacific. Sometimes it's best to keep your own counsel.

Commented on

Oh, there's all SORTS of things that could be done with this. Have the girls mark your drive (they stand in eneolsurcs at the ~225 yard point off the tee and go to spot your drive so you find it), they tee up your drive, they tend the flag...essentially, you have 'eye candy stations' around the course, where there are 'female experiences,' but you ride in the cart with your buds, where all the great conversation happens.I'm not sure I'd want a strange girl riding in the cart with me the whole time (though I'm sure some would), but bits and pieces would work well.Many courses do this to some extent with the 'drink cart' girl: they're almost always cute girls. This just takes it to a different level.

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Had Jason Little on our bags at Bandon for all the courses and praise Jesus for that. What a lifesaver. We had such an enjoyable time and it would have been miserable without him. I'd recommend $150 a bag per round. He is a senior caddy and we also had another caddy who wasn't that good who was very negative and so we ditched that guy. Believe his name was Joey? Anyway he complained about pay etc. Jason little though really knew the courses and reads and made us look like much better golfers on each course.

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