Walking caddies -- typically known simply as caddies -- and forecaddies are workers who assist golfers in various ways. While the term “caddie” has one accepted meaning in the world of golf, “forecaddie” may carry two different interpretations, depending on the situation in which a forecaddie is employed. In one case, a forecaddie performs a similar task to a caddie, while under a second scenario the jobs are very different, with only a slight overlap.
The PGA Golf Glossary defines a caddie as “a person hired to carry clubs and provide other assistance.” That “other” assistance may include offering advice regarding the course, the golfer’s choice of club, how to read a putt or general suggestions regarding how to play a shot. At the professional level, a caddie may compile a detailed yardage book on each course he visits to help his player choose the right club and select the correct strategy. A caddie typically works for one golfer at a time but is permitted to work for more than one player, pursuant to the U.S. Golf Association’s Rules of Golf.
Forecaddie: Tournament Level
Under the standard Rules of Golf, a forecaddie is an employee of the tournament committee and doesn’t work for any one player. The forecaddie’s job is “to indicate to players the position of balls during play.” In any tournament played according to the Rules of Golf, a forecaddie is an “outside agency,” meaning she’s forbidden to offer advice to any player.
Forecaddie: Casual Level
Many golf clubs offer their patrons the option of employing a forecaddie who is, in effect, a caddie employed by a group of golfers. For example, the Redstone Golf Club in Texas -- home of the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open -- includes the services of a forecaddie for each group within the group’s greens fees, although the players are expected to tip the forecaddie as well. While the players’ clubs are transported on motorized carts -- because a single forecaddie obviously can’t be expected to carry three or four golf bags at once -- the forecaddie provides most other standard walking caddie services. Redstone’s forecaddies are expected to offer advice on the course’s hazards and features and help the players select the proper target lines. The forecaddies also care for the course -- raking bunkers and replacing divots when necessary -- tend the flagsticks, clean balls and clubs, and generally help players manage the course.
Even though a casual forecaddie doesn’t carry golf bags, it’s still a physically demanding job. The forecaddie is constantly on the move, hopping on and off the cart, and running from one player to the next to offer whatever service is necessary.