In golf, a caddie is an individual who attends to a variety of tasks that ideally help a golfer get more enjoyment from his round. One of the caddie's primary tasks is to carry a golfer's clubs. A caddie also tends the flagstick while his golfer putts, rakes the sand after the golfer hits a bunker shot, replace clumps of grass called divots, reads the undulations and speed of the greens and calculates yardages. Caddies also are expected to keep their players' clubs clean.
A caddie relieves a golfer of the need to use a golf cart to transport his clubs during a round, although some clubs allow you to take a cart with a caddie. The golfer benefits from the enjoyment and exercise of walking the course. A good caddie provides his golfer with useful knowledge about the course, including hazards that should be avoided and the exact yardage for each shot. When asked, a caddie also should be able to recommend the proper club to be used.
Types of Caddies
A caddie may carry the bag for one golfer, or in some cases, two bags. A forecaddie is an individual who walks ahead of the golfers in a group and helps locate the golfers' balls, speeding up play. Some courses give golfers a choice of taking a caddie or a golf cart. Some make taking a caddie mandatory.
Caddie fees vary by the type of course. The prestigious Whistling Straits course in Kohler, Wisconsin, which has played host to the PGA Championship, requires players to take a caddie. As of 2011, the caddie fee was $60 and players were advised to tip the caddie, too, in recognition of good service. The recommended tip was $35. Caddie fees are typically posted in the pro shop. If not, ask about caddie fees before you begin your round.
Selecting a Caddie
If you're playing a course for the first time, ask for a caddie who has lots of experience there. Let the caddie watch you warm up on the driving range. That way she can get a feel for how far you hit the ball and will be better able to help with club selection. If you don't enjoy a lot of conversation during a round, let your caddie know before you start. On the other hand, you may need a lot of guidance to navigate an unfamiliar layout. In that case, encourage your caddie to speak up.
The golfer and the caddie should be respectful of each other. At some courses, caddies are youth trying to make some extra money over summer vacation. The young caddies may be aspiring golfers themselves. A golfer should never use having a bad round as an excuse for being rude to his caddie. Players who stop for refreshments between nines should offer to purchase beverages for their caddies.