Caddies spend long days hauling golf bags around the course, handling crowd control, judging the wind and serving as the golfer’s psychologist. The job can be quite lucrative for caddies who hook up with the best golfers. Many professional caddies make six figures in just more than half the year.
A professional golf caddie does a lot more than haul a golfer’s bag around the course, though that is part of the job. It’s the caddie’s job to protect the golfer from flash photography, counsel the player on what club to select for each shot, determine the direction of the wind, read the greens and generally boost the confidence of the player. Caddies travel all over the world with players for weekly tournaments, usually about 30 weeks a year.
Most PGA Tour caddies make a salary of between $1,000 and $1,500 a week, plus a percentage of the player’s winnings each week. A common rate is 5 percent for finishes outside the top 10, 7 percent for non-winning top-10 finishes and 10 percent if the golfer wins. Each caddie has a different arrangement with his golfer, and some are paid only a percentage of the winnings with no base salary.
Caddies on the PGA Tour who work 30 weeks a year will usually make at least $50,000 annually. That figure goes up depending on how successful the caddie’s golfer is during the year. Caddies for top golfers can easily make six figures or more annually. Caddies on professional tours with smaller purses—such as the European Tour, LPGA Tour, Nationwide Tour, Challenge Tour and Legends Tour—will make less.
Caddying can be a highly lucrative profession for the men carrying the bags of the world's top golfers. Forbes magazine calculated that Steve Williams, the longtime caddie of Tiger Woods, made $1.27 million in 2006—an amount that would have placed him among the top 75 earners had he been a golfer. The No. 10 earner made $224,000 that year. That money is made in a little more than half the year. Further, PGA Tour purses continue to get more lucrative.
Before signing up for the job, people should consider the downside. Many caddies never hook onto the PGA Tour, and those who do may get stuck with a below-average golfer. The job entails near-constant travel for 30 weeks of the year. Caddies often get blamed when a shot goes awry. And for those who don’t have a passion for golf, the long hours on the range and course can get old quick.