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:
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?
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