I hear a lot of my golf friends often say they are not ‘good enough to play with a caddie. But what about if a caddie could in fact make you better? For the normal club golfer, the choice to play with or without a caddie is not ever something you need to consider, but if you are lucky enough to be playing at a resort, or a bucket list course, you may very well have the opportunity to hire a caddie, or may very well be required to use one.
Rest assured using a caddie does not need to be scary if you follow these tips, and once you get over the initial weirdness of being part of a newfound golf team you may find it a very enjoyable experience.
Your caddie doesn’t care about how good, or bad, you are
The first big thing to realize about playing with a caddie is that they have seen it all before. From stick golfers through to absolute beginners, and they really don’t care. They are well trained to understand your ability level, and offer advice and assistance relative to your skill level and general attitude to golf.
A very typical error when using caddies for the first time is to worry about what the caddie is thinking rather than focusing on your own game. Caddies are supposed to be there to help your game not hinder it. Rest assured they will not remember whether you shoot 72 or 102.
Be yourself when you are warming up
Good caddies are trained to read your golf game in a short amount of time. If you caddie joins you at the range don’t try and be a different golfer than you normally are. Hit the shots and clubs you would normally hit and let them get a feel for your game.
Keep your bad as light as you can
If you know you are heading out for a round and will have a caddie carrying your bag, think about what items you may not need that day. Your caddie will appreciate it. If you have a lighter carry bag swap to that too.
Be a good person
Your caddie is not your servant. Don’t treat caddies rudely or act demeaning toward them. If you are friendly, they will work harder for you and before you know it you will create a great team. Also, don’t assume caddies are hard-luck cases trying to string together a few extra bucks. Plenty of caddies have chosen the lifestyle as a way to be outside in a beautiful environment and the money is truly secondary. Don’t be scared to talk to your caddie about life outside of golf too.
Getting your caddie to tell you about the course history and amusing stories they have had, is a great way to take away the tension of the day.
And whatever you do, don’t blame your caddie for a bad shot. I assure you 99.99% it is not their fault.
Listen to your caddie
I have not personally played with caddies a whole lot, but when I have I did initially make the mistake of not trusting them. Assuming they would not understand my game. How wrong I was. A good caddie will give you not only the right aim points but also tell you where the best misses are. And especially with short game and putting trust the clubs and advice they are giving you.
I have personally found it liberating to be able to just trust a caddie to make the big calls in my game why I focus on trying to execute them.
Let your caddie do their job
Don’t be a hero and think you are saving your caddie by grabbing flags and picking up bags. I know you may want to help but that is what the caddie is there for and they want to do things in a particular way. Obviously don’t be a jerk if there is an obvious way you can help, but more than anything just be a friendly and kind person and that is all a professional caddie will want.
Be honest about what you need and don’t need
A good caddie will be like a chameleon. Adjusting to what every golfer individually needs. Your job is to be as honest as possible to help them deliver what you need
- Don’t be scared to ask for advice if you need more info
- Don’t be scared to also make it clear when you are happy for them to be quiet, particuarly around swing advice
- Don’t expect your caddie to risk there life to retrieve a ball from down a cliff or a snake infested desert.
Do your research pre-round about what is acceptable and expected for tipping
If you are playing at a premium course ask the pro shop, or members, what they normally do for caddies in regards to tipping. Don’t ask the caddie themselves. Make any tip nice and relaxed. Also if you can it’s nice to invite caddies to either
- Have a drink with you after
- At least offer to buy them a drink or snack during the round
Trust the caddie to make a call on speed of play
A good caddie will know your place in the field and whether you need to speed up or slow down. Trust them to keep this part of your game in order and simply sit back and enjoy the experience
In summary, playing with a caddie should be a real treat. For one day you are part of a golf team and you can truly just focus on execution. At least once in your life, I suggest giving it a go if you get a chance to do so.