Every golfer from Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods has had a caddy each time they’ve lifted a championship trophy or strolled along to the next tee during a PGA Tour event. Perhaps you’ve seen them on TV and thought, “I could do that.”
Well, if you’re dedicated enough and learn the ropes, you might one day count yourself among the lucky few to call themselves golf caddies. While the path to professional caddying is cutthroat to say the least, local country clubs are always looking for people who know a bit about the game of golf to caddy for their members.
So if you’re better at gauging the wind and reading the greens than you are at hitting a Texas wedge, learn how to become a caddy with this step-by-step guide.
Any caddy will tell you that a healthy, borderline obsession with golf is the only surefire way to succeed. You need to play golf, love golf, and win at golf—even if you’re just the gambling type. This three-pronged attack will serve you well as you work from amateur status up the ranks. Obviously, a knowledge of golf is preferred, but if you’re still in the learning phase, turn into a sponge—every bit of information you can absorb will benefit you along the way and every golfer will have words of wisdom to impart.
If you’ve passed the test of living, eating, and breathing golf, you’re ready to start your quest to becoming one of the most coveted jobs of linksman everywhere. Let’s get started.
If you play golf regularly, you’re already at a distinct advantage over other potential caddies. However, you need to leverage your presence at the local course by getting noticed.
Many professional caddies got their start as professional or college golfers, but that doesn’t mean you have to be one of the best to get the job. Even if you’re in high school or that’s the top level you played, just get noticed by playing the course consistently—or even better—working on the course can propel you toward a caddy job.
From an amateur perspective, the most effective way for gainful employment is to become a golf course groundskeeper, and for one important reason: your knowledge of the course.
As a groundskeeper, you learn all the yardage of the holes, where the bunkers and other hazards are, the undulation of the fairway, and the slope and speed of the greens—everything you need to learn how to become a caddy.
If you live near a local club or course—especially a country club—chances are that they have some sort of caddy program. These programs show students various aspects of the caddying experience, such as:
Keep in mind that many of these caddy programs are only open to people of a certain age or to a maximum allotted number, so act fast if you want to join. But if you’re able to get your foot in the door, you’ll be on the fast track to learn how to become a caddy.
Like any other job, you can’t go from the low-end to the heights of the totem pole overnight. You have to work your way up from the bottom.
As such, you may want to volunteer or find openings for caddies at a local country club. Large country clubs often hire as many as 100 to 150 caddies during peak season, which can give you the ability to start your career.
If you can’t find employment at a country club, volunteering is also a viable solution. Charity and amateur tournaments are usually looking for caddies, albeit for no pay. But if you want a chance to meet the next great golfer or a wealthy individual who’s looking for a private caddy, these are some of your best opportunities.
Once you gain a bit of experience on how to become a caddy, you may want to hone your skills even more. Perhaps the best way to do so is by earning a certification from The Caddie Association.
Despite its horrifyingly outdated website, The Caddie Association is a nationally recognized organization that provides a self-study apprenticeship. Once you feel confident, you’re then required to do 25 additional rounds of caddying.
After you complete 25 rounds and get a letter of recommendation, write a short paper and pass the exam, and you’ll get your certification.
While the certification isn’t a guarantee of employment, it will certainly give you a bit of clout compared to other caddies that lack a certification. Plus, no knowledge is bad knowledge.
If you don’t get instant results—even with a certification—don’t sweat it. Just like you would have patience on the golf course, you need to practice the same virtue when learning how to become a caddy.
Unless there’s a major shortage in your area, you may have to play second fiddle to other, more established caddies. But don’t take this as a setback—take it as a learning experience. The more you can learn from caddies that have been around for a while, the better your chances of gainful employment in the future.
You’ll have to overcome the odds to become a PGA Tour caddy or even become a caddy on something like the developmental Korn Ferry Tour. Most caddies on either of these tours are usually friends with a pro golfer, related to them, or were a tour pro at some point.
However, that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and kick up a few divots as you storm away. It simply means that you may need to volunteer or spend more time to work your way up. It’s a war of attrition and discipline. You just have to be willing to put in the time.
If you want a bit of inspiration, look no further than Michael Greller. In 2011, Greller was working as a high school math teach in Seattle, and working at a local club as a caddy to earn some extra cash.
That same year, the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship rolled into town, and as luck would have it, Greller was assigned to be the caddie of Jordan Spieth. Despite being 15 years his senior, Greller formed a unique bond, respect, and rapport with Spieth.
Just four years later, Greller was wearing the Spieth caddy bib when Spieth put on the Green Jacket as one of the youngest winners at The Masters and again when Spieth hoisted the hardware at the 2015 U.S. Open.
This rags-to-riches-style story is certainly an outlier, but if you ever want to become a professional golf caddy or just caddy full-time, the opportunity isn’t as far off as you might think.
Unless you’re the caddy for a professional golfer, caddying won’t make you rich. But if money is no concern and the thought of being outside or pulling the flagstick gives you a whirlwind of excitement, you can still make a decent living.
Statistics vary and pay depends on where you caddy, but you can realistically expect to make up to $375 on a given day with a bit of experience. At country clubs, caddies usually earn about $125 per 18 holes, and could probably do three rounds a day.
However, beginner caddies will often make less than that—about $20 per hour—as they aren’t doing all that much outside of carrying a golfer’s clubs.
Keep in mind that the course isn’t going to be busy all the time. You may only work two or three days a week, so you may have to adjust accordingly.
If you can break into the major ranks, you’ll earn considerably more than the caddies on the local course. PGA Tour caddies earn a base salary of between $1,500 and $3,000 per week plus 5% to 10% of the winnings of the golfer they’re caddying for.
LPGA caddies earn around $1,200 per week on average, as well as 7% to 8% of the golfer’s winnings. So while they make less than a PGA Tour caddy, it’s still a great living that gives you the opportunity to see some of the most famous holes in golf.
If you’re serious about becoming a caddy, keep hitting the links whenever possible. The more knowledge you learn about the game of golf and the more you hone your own skills, the better positioned you are to help a more talented golfer reach the pinnacle of their abilities. You may not win the tournament yourself, but a share of the glory is just as good.