The role of a caddy on the golf course is an important one that is often overlooked. A caddy’s duties are designed to make the round go as smoothly as possible. In fact, their performance can be a contributory factor in whether the golfer wins or loses.
There are different levels of caddies, ranging from professional caddies (who are directly employed by the golfer) to caddies who work for a golf club and look after the needs of all the players. Their basic duties are the same – carrying and distributing the golf clubs.
Full duties extend far beyond the basic requirements. In particular, caddies who work for professional golfers on tour are likely to play a bigger role, and without them, the game wouldn’t be as enjoyable.
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Role and responsibilities
A caddy will assist the player with almost every aspect of their game. When you’re watching a professional tournament on television, you may notice they seem more involved in the overall game play.
Their primary role is handling the clubs. Sometimes, at a golf club, if a team of two golfers plays a round, they may employ a single caddy to assist them both. The caddy distributes the clubs to the player at every hole and returns the clubs to the bag after each shot.
They will also keep the balls and clubs clean – a vital part of game play. Many golf courses offer mechanical washing machines for the equipment, although the caddy will normally have a hand towel with them for quick clean-ups between holes.
Golfers will normally trust the caddy’s advice for what they call “scouting” – estimating the distance between course landmarks. The golfer trusts the advice of the caddy – after all, the caddy walks the course every day and can be relied upon to know it well.
In the modern era, some caddies carry digital range-finders to accurately estimate the distances. Golfers can find out how much further the green is and how far their ball is from the hole.
On the course, if the ball ends up in a sand trap or bunker, the caddy will rake the area after the player leaves the trap. It’s considered courtesy for each party to repair any temporary damage they have caused to the course during the round.
Similarly, the caddy is tasked with repairing divots that the golfer might have caused during the round – these occur when the golfer inadvertently strikes the ground, rather than the ball. The caddy must replace the damaged grass and smooth it down before continuing.
The caddy will also remove the pin when the golfer takes their shot from close range. When the golfers in the party have all taken their shot, the caddy replaces the flag in the hole, ready for the next group.
There have been some famous golfer and caddy partnerships over the years that people still talk about today. Back in 1913, the American amateur golfer Francis Ouimet was only 20 years old when he shocked the golfing world by winning the US Open at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Even more amazing was the fact his expert caddy, Eddy Lowery, was only ten years old!
Jack Nicklaus’ famous caddy, Angelo Argea, spent two decades in the role and looked after Nicklaus at 44 of his PGA Tour wins. He was an iconic figure with his mass of silver hair and dignified bearing. He first became Nicklaus’ caddy by chance in 1963, at the Palm Springs Classic. He was caddying casually for a hotel executive when he heard more caddies were needed for the tournament.
He signed up and Nicklaus turned up unexpectedly, as he had a hip injury and wasn’t expected to take part. Not only did he turn up, he also won the tournament and liked Argea’s caddying skills so much that it became a long-term relationship.
Arnold Palmer had the same caddy, Tip Anderson, for more than 30 years. He was the caddy for Palmer’s famous Open wins in 1961 at Royal Birkdale and in 1962 at Royal Troon. Anderson was one of the most outstanding golf caddies of the 20th century. He was famous for helping Palmer to victory at the Royal Birkdale, despite appalling conditions and gale force winds that sprung up during the championship.
A modern trend is for some top golfers to have celebrity caddies on the PGA Tour. Actor and comedian Bill Murray was caddy several times for Scott Simpson for the Western Open at Cog Hill. It is well documented that Murray loves golf himself and plays at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am every year. He did a good job caddying for Simpson, who is seven-times winner on the PGA Tour. Murray also attracted the crowds and was a good ambassador for the sport.
Legendary tennis player Andy Roddick changed sports in 2011 when he became caddy for Zach Johnson. They had never met before 2011, but Roddick (who’s also a keen golfer) agreed to caddy for Johnson. In fact, Roddick was described by the press as a “golf nut” and with both sportsmen described as easy to get along with, it seemed an ideal pairing.
It’s not unusual for legendary sportsmen and women to cross over into other sports – iconic NBA star David Robinson became the golf caddy for Corey Pavin in 1997. The press reported how it was the “most unbalanced player-caddy pairing” in history in terms of height. At 7ft 1in tall, Robinson towered over 5ft 9ins Pavin. The two are now firm friends and Robinson even named his son Corey after the golfing legend.
Next time you see a golf caddy, remember how crucial they are to the game!
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