Golf Caddie Etiquette Tips

Golf caddie etiquette covers both the behavior of caddies and the behavior of the players who engage them. It is an unusual relationship, because the caddie's job is to serve the golfer's interest, but the caddie may know both the course and the golfer's best interest better than the golfer does. Courtesy on the part of both golfer and caddie can make it comfortable.

Etiquette for the Caddie

The caddie's overarching job is to help a player play the best possible game. This is accomplished by the caddie performing a number of tasks including:

o Carrying the Bag of Clubs: From the time the caddie picks up the golf bag, ascertaining that the bag holds no more than the fourteen allowed, until the player is back at the clubhouse, the caddie has charge of the bag. Two key aspects of etiquette involved in carrying clubs are preventing them from rattling against each other and placing the bag down gently and off the teeing ground and green. These two aspects of handling the bag of clubs prevents the clubs from making disruptive noises and prevents the bag from marring the course.

o Cleaning Golf Clubs: Keeping the player's clubs clean is the caddie's job. Caddies should check clubs routinely, cleaning them when they're handed back, prior to replacing them in the bag and making sure each club is clean and dry before handing it to the player.

o Cleaning the Golf Ball: Keeping the player's golf ball clean is the caddie's job, but only upon request.

o Caring for the Course/Divots: After all players have taken their shot, caddies repair their player's divots, as well as any others they spot and have time to address.

o Caring for the Course/Ball Marks: Like cleaning the golf ball, the caddie should repair ball marks on the green only by request.

o Tending the Flagstick: If they're asked to tend the flagstick, caddies should follow the same etiquette as players in avoiding stepping on putting lines, keeping their shadows off the lines and the hole, and standing still during putts. The flagstick should be placed off the green and carefully returned to the hole before the group moves on to the next tee.

o Keeping Track of the Golf Ball: The golfer is thinking many things while taking a swing, so if the caddie can readily identify the landing spot of the ball, the player benefits.

o Providing Advice: All caddies should carry a copy of the Rules of Golf and know them well in order to help players abide by them and avoid breaking any rules themselves. Studying the course in advance allows the caddy to give on-the-spot information about distance, advice about club selection, as well as helping the player to read putts.

Etiquette Towards the Caddie

Here are some guidelines for interacting with a caddie appropriately:

o Don't engage a caddie if you're going to spend the round discussing business or other private matters that you don't want overheard.

o Listen to what your caddie has to say respectfully, even if you choose not to follow the advice you receive.

o Tip your caddie generously, and even more generously if you're particularly pleased. Wait staff at a restaurant are usually at your beck and call intermittently for an hour, while a caddie is available minute by minute for up to four hours.

If the caddie fee is large, a tip of half of the caddie fee is a good choice for a satisfactory caddie and a tip equal to the fee for an exceptional caddie. If the caddie fee is less than twenty dollars, even a good job should earn the caddie a tip of more than the fee.

Caddies can be so valuable to players that they may develop a long-standing relationship and friendship that goes beyond the golf course. Phil Mickelson and Jim "Bones" Mackay are the example that springs to mind.

Mackay has caddied for Mickelson for over eighteen years, and he's been there for almost all of Mickelson's important victories. Mickelson and his wife, Amy, introduced Mackay to Amy's best friend from college, and Jen became Mackay's wife.

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Corbett, J. (2007). General etiquette. In The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Golf Rules and Etiquette (pp. 36-37). Royersford, PA: Alpha. Gabriel, G. (n.d.). Caddie tips for the beginner. Retrieved from Harig, B. (2011, February 17). Dustin Johnson's unlikely race vs. time. ESPN Golf. Retrieved from Herrfeldt, B. (n.d.). Golf caddy rules requirements. Retrieved from HillCrest Golf Club. (n.d.). Caddie program. Retrieved from Morfit, C. (2011, April 23). Being Bones: Phil Mickelson's caddie Jim Mackay. Retrieved from,28136,2036355,00.html

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