How Much Do Golf Caddies Make?: More Than You Might Think
There are enormous sums of money sloshing around in golf these days and as with most other professional sports, this money tends to “trickle down”.
In golf, the most high-profile member of a golfers team is their caddie. A good caddie can be worth their weight in gold. With just one shot over 72 holes potentially being the difference between winning a tournament or finishing in the places. At the other end of the spectrum, one shot over the first 36 holes might mean the difference between making the cut or going home empty-handed! That’s the difference between earning some money for the week or going home with a bill for hotel and travel expenses
How Much Do PGA Tour Caddies Make?
Professional caddies on the PGA Tour receive a base weekly salary of somewhere between $1000-$3000. Usually, they will also receive a percentage of the player’s winnings. The caddie might expect 5% of the winnings if a player finishes outside the top 10 and 7% if the player finishes inside the top 10. If he’s carrying the bag of the winner he could expect to earn around 10% of that check.
So in a typical PGA Tour event with a first prize of around $1 million, the caddie could expect to pick up around $100,000.
The US Masters prize money increased significantly in 2022 and so did the potential remuneration for Masters caddies.
Other Income Sources
in addition to their base salary and percentage, some of the leading caddies top up their income with sponsorships. Many players will have a club contract and as part of the deal will wear a hat with the manufacturer’s logo. You will often see the caddie wearing a similar hat and they may well receive some sponsorship money. Steve Williams famously negotiated a sponsorship deal with Valvoline.
How Much Do Caddies Make At Golf And Country Clubs?
Caddies are not as popular with amateur golfers due to the cost. However, caddies are still available at some of the more prestigious clubs or in certain parts of the world where labor is cheaper.
In St Andrews for example a caddie will cost you £55 ($75) for a round plus any tip.
St Andrews is the only place I’ve ever hired a professional caddie and the prices seem to have increased markedly! There appears to be only one rate for all caddies compared to a few years ago when there were three different levels of caddie. Each with its different pay rates. The amount you paid was dependent on the experience and skill of the caddie.
To me, £55 seems a hell of a lot for carrying a bag and offering club selection and green reading advice. Especially if the caddie is not especially experienced. Certainly, it would be possible for someone to do two rounds per day so that’s £150 a day before tax (assuming the suggested minimum gratuity). That’s almost £20 per hour. It’s more than I ever earned as a computer programmer with 25 years of experience and a computer science degree behind me! Don’t see that that is great value for money!
Compared with somewhere like Pebble Beach these prices are pretty cheap though! If you want your own caddie it’s going to cost you $145 per round! That’s on top of the nearly $600 green fee! As a caddie, if you managed to do seven rounds a week that would be $50,000 per annum. Not bad work if you can get it!
In Thailand for example, caddies are mandatory but will cost you around $10 plus any gratuity. When playing golf in Thailand it is highly likely that the only thing you’ll do is hit the ball. The caddies will take care of everything else:
- Place your ball on the tee and pick up the tee after you’ve hit your shot.
- Cleaning clubs.
- Mark and clean your ball once you’re on the green and even line up any marking on the correct putting line.
- They will retrieve the ball from the hole.
- They probably won’t let you touch the pin.
- They will drive the cart.
What Do Professional Caddies Do?
If you don’t follow golf too closely then you might be wondering what caddies do to justify earning up to 10% of a golfer’s prize money.
There is an old saying in golf that a caddie should “turn up, keep up and shut up”. A modern tour caddie has to do much more than just carry a player’s clubs during the tournament.
Some players will expect their caddie to have completed a survey of the course to get a feel for where they should and shouldn’t be going. It’s not unheard of for some caddies to go around the golf course using a measuring wheel before detailed maps and GPS/rangefinders were available.
The caddie will then accompany the pro during his/her practice rounds and they will plot a strategy for how to play the course. They will try to account for the likely weather conditions and pin positions that will be employed in the tournament.
On tournament days they will arrive before the pro and collect any pin position sheets or other information regarding temporary course conditions.
They will head over to the practice area to help the golfer warm up and work on their short game and putting before the round. Before heading to the first tee they should make sure the player doesn’t have more than 14 clubs in the bag.
Ian Woosnam famously missed out on a great chance at the 2001 Open Championship after taking 15 clubs to the course.
During the round, their responsibilities include:
Keeping the club heads and grips clean. The clubs need to be in tip-top shape so their player can perform at their best.
Calculating yardages. This might seem simple. A good caddie needs to take into account elevation changes, the direction and strength of the wind and the type of lie that the golfer faces.
Club selection. Once the caddie has worked out the yardage they have to recommend the club to the player based on the experience of how far the player hits each club.
Looking after the course. Caddies will repair divots made by their player and also rake bunkers. In major championships, there is often a specific bunker raker following each group so they get to take a week off from having to rake the bunkers! The players tend to take care of their own pitch marks.
Tending the pin. Although rule changes in the last couple of years mean it is now possible to putt with the pin in many professionals still prefer to have the flag out. It’s the caddie’s job to attend to the pin and make sure they don’t damage the hole in the process. Amateurs would do well to take note of the way professional caddies attend the pin to try and avoid causing too much wear and tear near the hole.
Watching the ball. Probably, not as important for a professional caddie given there are usually plenty of spectators around. The player will expect them to know where their ball is.
Not getting in the way. They need to observe the same etiquette as other golfers would while players are hitting. So they should be standing out of the way and not making any noise that might put off their player or a fellow competitor.
Keeping the clubs and players dry. If it starts to rain then this is where a caddie can become invaluable. It’s their job to keep the clubs as dry as possible and also try to prevent their player from becoming soaked as well. A good caddie will be ready with numerous dry towels and gloves when they know that inclement weather is on the cards.
The very best caddies will also be amateur sports psychologists. Knowing what to say and when to say it, is what separates great caddies from merely good caddies.
Famous Professional Caddies
The level of media coverage afforded to most professional sports means that modern caddies are almost as famous as the players.
Most notably caddied for Tiger Woods for 12 years. During that period Steve Williams often earned more money than the highest-paid sportsman in his native New Zealand. Since parting ways with Woods Williams has been on the back of fellow Antipodean Adam Scott. The Australian gives some credit to Williams for his Masters win due to his steely, tenacious nature.
It’s been calculated that Williams received between 9 and 12 million dollars whilst working for Woods alone.
A former tour pro himself, Jimmy has garnered a reputation as a top bagman on the PGA Tour. His recent turn as a caddie for Justin Thomas has seen him load up a wheelbarrow full of cash as Thomas ascended the heights of the world rankings.
Brother of Dustin Johnson and a decent golfer in his own right. Austin has been on his brother’s bag since 2013 including both of his major championship triumphs. Dustin has earned around $55 million on the PGA Tour since 2013 so even if Austin was only picking up 5% that’s $2.75 million or more than $300,000 a year.
The Swede has worked for many top players including Sir Nick Faldo and Henrik Stenson. Compared with the riches on offer at the moment her peak years were mainly with Faldo in the 90s when prize funds weren’t at the same level.
Probably most famous for caddying for Woods and was also the former caddie for Fred Couples. LaCava has also carried the bags of Davis Love III, Justin Leonard and Dustin Johnson. A caddie respected by his peers, players and fans he has recently been inducted into the Caddie Hall of Fame after a career spanning more than 30 years.
It’s probably fair to say Ted Scott did ok for money last season (2021-22) as he was working for Scottie Scheffler! Assuming a typical 10/7/5 split here are the figures for 2021-22. Oh and don’t forget to add on a basic salary either so you can say another $26,000 for the 26 weeks!
|Shriners Children’s Open||MC||—|
|THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT||T38||$37,635||$1,881.75|
|World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba||4||$352,800||$24,696.00|
|Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open||T2||$667,500||$46,725.00|
|The RSM Classic||T57||$16,416||$820.80|
|Hero World Challenge*||2||—|
|The American Express||T25||$55,955||$2,797.75|
|Farmers Insurance Open||T20||$95,508||$4,775.40|
|WM Phoenix Open||1||$1,476,000||$147,600.00|
|The Genesis Invitational||T7||$390,000||$27,300.00|
|Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard||1||$2,160,000||$216,000.00|
|THE PLAYERS Championship||T55||$46,200||$2,310.00|
|World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play||1||$2,100,000||$210,000.00|
|Zurich Classic of New Orleans||T18||—|
|AT&T Byron Nelson||T15||$161,525||$8,076.25|
|Charles Schwab Challenge||2||$915,600||$45,780.00|
|RBC Canadian Open||T18||$123,975||$6,198.75|
|Genesis Scottish Open||MC||—|
Highest Earning Caddies
Here are some of the highest-earning caddies from the PGA Tour for the last few years (and their earnings for one year alone):
|Ted Scott||Scottie Scheffler||1,601,402|
|Jimmy Johnson||Justin Thomas||502,581|
|Jonathan Jakovac||Collin Morikawa||486,825|
|Austin Johnson||Dustin Johnson||472,600|
|Harry Diamond||Rory McIlroy||2,471,848*|
*assuming he took 10% of the Tour Championship/FedEx Cup purse
How Much Do Golf Caddies Make: Conclusion
If you happen to be working for one of the top players in the world and they happened to have a good season then you could make $1 million for your efforts. On the flip side if you’re looping for a guy who missed loads of cuts then you might be getting by on only your base salary of $1000 per week. This doesn’t stretch so far when you have to take into account travel and accommodation costs. Plus you aren’t going to work every week as your player will have some time off.
While being a caddie might seem a great way to earn some easy cash only a minuscule percentage of caddies make a very lucrative living.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]
How much do pro caddies make?
On the PGA Tour, pro caddies will get a weekly rate of $1000-$3000 plus a cut of the player’s prize money. 10% for a winner, 7% for a top-10 and 5% if the player just makes the cut.
What Kind Of Shoes Do Professional Caddies Wear?
Most, if not all of the time the caddies will wear sneakers of some kind. They don’t wear golf shoes to avoid an extra pair of spikes from scuffing up the green.
How Much Do Caddies Make At Country Clubs?
At a Country Club in the United States where caddies are available, there will be several different grades of caddies. The more experienced the caddie the more they will get paid. A young caddie with little experience will probably cost $20-30, a caddy with reasonable experience will be nearer $50 while a top caddie will set you back as much as $100 or even more. Plus don’t forget the tip!
Highest Paid Caddie 2022?
It’s probably safe to assume that Scottie Scheffler’s caddie did Ok last year! Ted Scott probably grossed around $1.6 million from his player’s winnings.
Caddie Salary On The PGA Tour
Caddies normally get a basic salary from the player of between $1000-3000 per week. Depending on how much the player picks up in prizemoney the caddie will then earn a percentage of that too.
What Percentage Do Caddies Make?
A professional caddie will usually receive a percentage of the player’s earnings if they make the cut. The percentage will vary depending on the finishing position:
– 10% if the player wins
– 7% if the player makes the top 10
– 5% if the player finishes outside the top 10
What Do Caddies Wear?
If the caddie is a regular one then the player might arrange for the caddie to wear clothes from his sponsor. Otherwise, caddies will often wear shorts if the weather allows. At the Masters, all caddies wear a white boilersuit. The boilersuits are worn by the regular caddies at the club.
Do Caddies Get Paid if Player Misses the Cut?
Yes, the caddie will get paid if the player misses the cut. There will usually be an agreement for a base salary of $1000-$3000 per week for professional golfers on the PGA Tour.
Who Caddied for Phil Mickelson?
Jim “Bones” McKay was the long-time caddie for Phil Mickelson. After parting ways, he did a stint as an on-course commentator before working for Justin Thomas.