Why Do Golfers Have Caddies (11 Roles)

If you have ever watched a professional golf tournament you will see a caddy carrying the bag of every golfer.

However, the role and responsibility of a caddy goes well beyond simply carrying the bag.

The importance of the caddy at the professional level continues to evolve and grow in the level of importance from the times of Jack Nicklaus, who once said when talking about the caddy that he had three roles:

“Show up, keep up, shut up”

Jack Nicklaus when talking about the role of the caddy

Jack Nicklaus and many of the “old timers” in the game of golf didn’t over rely on their caddy for anything much more than carrying the bag.  

Caddies will carry a yardage book with many different notes from over the years.

Why Do Golfers Have Caddies?

The most basic role of a caddy is to carry the bag, help navigate the golf course and keep the golfer in the right frame of mind throughout the round to perform at his or her peak levels.

However, in recent years the role of the caddy has expanded to include the following:

  • Club selection
  • Expanded knowledge of the golf course
  • Understanding of the mental side of the golfer
  • Knowledge of key statistics and analytics
  • Reading greens
  • Determining wind direction
  • An extra set of eyes for the golf swing
  • Friend

1) Club Selection

The best caddies are able to help with the proper club selection.  There are many factors that come into play when selecting a club on an approach shot.  For example, the golfer and caddy must consider the wind, the pin placement, the bunker locations, how the golfer is swinging that day and the lie.  The most trusted caddies will be part of the conversation and help the golfer arrive at a confident decision. 

Some caddies carry a veto ability up to once a round if they feel the golfer completely has the wrong club and had made a poor decision.  A part of this decision making process is knowing how far the golfer hits each club and how the different elements are going to impact the shot.

Other key information on the life of a caddy!

2) Expanded knowledge of the golf course

The best caddies know every part of the golf course.  From the width of the fairways, to the bunker locations and even the nuances of each green.  Most caddies will walk the course several times before the tournament and even the day prior to the tee time. 

This helps them see exact pin locations, how the course is playing that day and other key information that will be relevant that might save a shot or two over the course of a tournament.  Being a caddie at the professional level requires a long day and being tuned in for a significant chunk of time.

What the yardage to the pin? Whats the yardage to carry the water and the bunker? What is the max carry yardage? What is the wind doing? These are just some of the questions that have to be answered on just about every shot.

3) Understanding of the mental side of the golfer

Not every player and caddy relationship ends up working, in fact, many end after so many years.  During this course of time, the best caddies are able to understand the key times to talk and when to shut up.  The caddy pretty much becomes the psychologist on the golf course and has to know the right things to say and when. 

Over time, the caddy learns more and more about the golfer and what helps at the right times.  No two golfers are alike and the caddy must learn about their golfer to help the golfer perform at his or her peak levels!

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4) Knowledge of key statistics and analytics

In the past decade, the understanding of key statistics and the analytics have become very clear.  The caddy must know key stats and how it will impact the golfer’s round.  Over time, playing the high percentage shot and using the shot gains measures, the caddy can help the golfer best navigate the golf course. 

Advice provided by the caddy will often be based on the analytics around the game.  The best caddies know the numbers and can help keep the golfer in the right frame of mind by making quality decisions, which results in better outcomes.

Ready to finally break 80? Check out this post!

Some golfers and caddies use tools like Google Earth for an overhead view of golf holes and to measure the width of landing areas on tee shots.

5) Reading greens

There are some golfers that prefer to do all of their own green reading, while others consult with their caddy on just about every hole.  Many professional caddies are quality golfers in their own right and can read the greens or at least provide a second opinion for the golfer. 

Green complexes from week to week can be confusing and having the extra set of eyes to confirm and provide the confidence can go a long way in the results in that tournament.

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6) Determining wind direction

One of the more difficult tasks for the golfer/caddy team is to determine the wind direction and the severity of the wind. Is it a 1 club wind or a 2 club wind?  Is the wind from from the straight on or maybe slightly in the face, but also from the left? 

The wind can shift during a round and even during a hole as it sometimes varies even as a golfer is standing over a shot.  There is no hole that has provided more confusion and heartbreak over the years than the 12th hole par 3 at Augusta National. 

Having an experienced caddy on the bag can go a long way in making the correct club decisions based on what the wind is doing at the moment.

Good luck with the wind on this hole!

7) An extra set of eyes for the golf swing

While most golfers have their own swing coach, if the caddy is able to keep an eye on tempo, alignment, or something small in the swing, it can save a round before it comes off the tracks.  While must caddies aren’t the swing coach, they are around the golfer enough to spot the little things that might mess up a round of golf.

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8) Friend

Professional golfers and caddies spend a significant amount of time on the road each year traveling from state to state.  There is a lot of time away from the golf course when the the player and caddy might be spending time together. 

If you are going to be with someone for 8-16 hours a day, it is important to be a friend and enjoy each other’s company.  This is where the caddy continues to help keep the golfer in the right frame of mind for peak performance.

Final Thoughts

Each golfer might expect something slightly different from their caddy.  Bryson DeChambeau’s caddie might have the most difficult caddy job in all of golf due to all of the variables that are considered pre round, during the round and before every shot.  It is similar to talking a different language and the caddy has to be able to keep up. 

It has certainly evolved from the time of Jack Nicklaus to what Bryson demands from his caddie.

Grow your game by having access to golf on a daily basis! Enjoy the journey and embrace the improvement opportunities!

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.  I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day.  I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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