To those unfamiliar with the sport of golf, the caddy (or caddie) is sometimes regarded as a lowly creature, dutifully carrying his master’s bags and doing the donkey work while the golfer himself or herself basks in the glory of the success which comes with victory out on the golf course.
And is true, of course, that as in any sport golf is about those who play, and win tournaments.
A golf caddy is indeed there to help the player by whom he or she is employed. That is what a caddy in golf does.
But there is much more to the role played by caddies, and pro golfers, in particular, require the services of a professional golf caddy who understands their needs and requirements.
The History of the Golf Caddy
The first reliable record of caddies having been used in golfing is from Edinburgh, Scotland in 1817. It is however believed that the first use of a caddie was by the Duke of Albany in 1681, also in Scotland, while playing an international contest at Leith Links.
For the 150 or so years that followed, caddying came to be associated purely with that particular club, although their use later became increasingly commonplace amongst the most prestigious and elite golf clubs.
At this time caddies were generally provided by the host club rather than by the golfers themselves.
It wasn’t until the second half of the twentieth century that golfers, by now much more highly paid, came to realize the benefits of having a personal caddy who was known to and familiar with the player.
What Does a Golf Caddy Do?
At its most basic, caddies are charged with the responsibility of carrying their player’s bags about the course, keeping their clubs clean and in the best condition and organizing their equipment and other belongings.
They might also keep an eye on the condition of the course, removing any obstacles and advising on putting distances and suchlike.
It is this latter function that reveals the true importance of a good caddy to any professional golfer.
Because additional to acting as a porter and bag carrier he or she is also the eyes and ears of their player, replacing divots and raking bunkers as well as keeping tabs on events around the golf course and, occasionally, fending off over-enthusiastic supporters who might inadvertently encroach upon the game.
It is not just about being a bag-man (or woman), a good caddy also brings insight, inspiration and logistical assistance.
There is also a psychological role played by caddies. Helping with everyday tasks and just being around helps the player to relax and to concentrate.
One of the many understated roles of the golf caddy is to help maintain the player’s morale and focus, which ultimately can make the difference between success and failure.
For reasons of both personal loyalty and self-interest, the caddy is deeply invested in the success of the player.
How Much Does a Caddy in Golf Earn?
It is because of their importance to professional golfers that caddies, whilst obviously not in the same financial league as the players themselves, are often well remunerated for their services.
Usually, for PGA tour caddies a base salary will be supplemented with a percentage share of any winnings achieved by the golfer.
In the event of a golfer winning a tournament, the caddy may take as much as ten percent of that player’s earnings.
Typically this reduces to seven percent for a top ten performance, or five percent if the player misses the top placings.
A caddy can make between $1,500 and $2,500 per week during golf tournaments, according to Forbes.
For most caddies, pay will also include any travel or out-of-pocket expenses incurred whilst at work. This is important because in the first instance it will be the caddies who incur their own expenses in preparation for a game.
A caddy in golf is part of a team, serving as partner, trainer, advisor and confidant to their player who is thereby left to concentrate on the task ahead, which is winning the tournament.
When a player wins, their assistant benefits financially. Theirs is very much a mutually advantageous relationship.
Good caddies are a priceless resource and a much sought-after commodity.
Richest Golf Caddies in 2020
According to data from the PGA tour in 2020, the following caddies were the highest paid on the circuit in that year, the last year for which we presently have information:
Caddying for US golfer and former world number one Justin Thomas, Johnson netted over half a million dollars in that one year alone making him officially the biggest earner amongst his kind.
Nevertheless, they parted ways following that tournament, Johnson saying that we wished to pursue new interests.
He was replaced by English-born American Jim “Bones” Mackay.
Having carried clubs for fellow American Ryan Moore, Jakovac teamed up with Collin Marikawa who went on to win the PGA Championship.
The following year Marikawa won the Open Championship on Jakovac’s 39th birthday, directing the crowd in an enthusiastic rendition of “Happy Birthday to You”.
Jakovac earned nearly $483,000 dollars in 2020.
Caddy for Dustin Johnson, one of the best golfers in the game, won the Masters in November 2020 with his younger brother at his side. Consequently, Austin Johnson found himself among the ranks of top caddies boasting six-figure salaries.
In his case, his earnings in 2020 amounted to $472,600.
Served Webb Simpson in 2020, when the latter re-entered the world’s top ten after winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Tesori took home not very far short of $420,000.
Simpson believes theirs is a partnership brought together by God.
Jon Rahm was the golfer employing this top-rank caddy, only the second Spaniard (after the legendary Seve Ballesteros) to be rated the number one golfer in the world.
In 2020, with Adam Hayes at his side, Rahm won the Memorial Tournament and the BMW Championship.
Hayes stepped out of that memorable year with a cool $375,000 in his pocket.
Provided caddying services for Bryson DeChambeau, known as “The Scientist” for his analytical approach to his sport.
He won the US Open in 2020 and Tucker went home with around $350,000.
Related Article: Uncovering Tim Tucker’s Net Worth: What We Know So Far
Was sidesman for American pro golfer Patrick Reed on the 2020 PGA tour when the latter won the WGC-Mexico Championship, propelling him into the elite league of PGA caddies pay with $346,500.
Caddy on the PGA tour card for Daniel Berger, a top US golfer whose father Jay had been a world-ranked tennis pro.
When Berger (junior) won the Charles Schwab Challenge he received a check for $1.375 million.
As his caddy, Cassell had to settle for $343,000.
Like most PGA tour caddies, the 2020 tournament ensured him a hefty yearly payout.
Working for Australian Marc Leishman, who won the Farmers Insurance Open, Kelly banked $330,000 in 2020.
Professional caddy to Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who triumphed in the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA tour.
Hatton played in the 2021 Ryder Cup, representing Europe alongside many professional golfers from various countries.
Crane made $287,000 from assisting in his employer’s success in 2020 alone.
South Korean professional golfer Im Sung-jae won the Honda Classic in March 2020, earning Choi $278,000.
Other Top Earners
At the time of writing 2020 may be the most recent year in which the incomes of PGA caddies have been listed, but there are many others who have earned big from PGA tours.
One of the most well-known is Steve Williams, who has served many professional golfers, most recently Jason Day.
He has also been Tiger Woods’ caddy as well as having worked for Adam Scott and Peter Thomson.
New Zealander Steve Williams’ net worth is believed to be in the region of $20 million. He is also said to have been given up to ten vehicles which were won by Woods at tournaments.
It is worth remembering that the richest caddy, like the richest golfer, is not always the one who earned the most the previous year, but more often the one who has acquired the most during a long and fruitful career.
The wealthiest golfer of all time is Tiger Woods.
Even Rory McIlroy, one if the world’s top ten golfers in the earnings league, has yet to come anywhere close to emulating Tiger Woods’ financial success.
Caddie or Caddy?
Meanwhile, this remains the $64,000 question. According to the authoritative Grammarist, one is a golfer’s attendant whilst the other is a (primarily British) vehicle for holding tea.
But it isn’t quite that simple. Even the purists acknowledge that it is legitimate to use the word “caddy” to describe a golfer’s helper, and indeed both spellings are frequently employed, sometimes interchangeably.
In its golfing context the word, however spelled, derives from the French “cadet”, meaning a trainee.
Whichever the correct way to spell the word, the importance of the caddy (or caddie) to professional golfers cannot easily be overstated.