Life is funny. We often spend a lot of our time crafting our careers. Whether it’s going to school, taking an internship, or working hard to move up the corporate ladder, we put a lot of effort into the things that we do. So, when an opportunity just happens to fall into your lap, it can often take you by surprise, or you can feel like you’re not worthy of it. I’ve always believed that it’s these opportunities that can offer some of the best chapters in the story of your life.
And it was one of these opportunities that saw me become a professional caddy on the LPGA tour.
For the 2016 golf season I was a member at Priddis Greens Golf & Country Club. That year they hosted the CP Canadian Women’s Open and I signed up to volunteer. My job was going to be a couple of shifts marshaling on the 18th hole.
Before the tournament week I was chatting with one of the pros as we passed each other on a staircase. He mentioned that often LPGA players will take a ‘local caddy’ for the week as opposed to paying someone to travel with them. I thought hey, I might as well throw my hat in the ring for that. The pro mentioned that often they only need a handful of caddies, but he’d put my name forward.
Sunday night, as tournament week was hours from starting, I hadn’t heard a thing about caddying. I was a little disappointed, but also a little relieved. I actually had ZERO experience caddying. Ever. In my life.
Then I got an e-mail.
And thus began my unlikely adventure into professional caddying.
We played several practice rounds, then a Thursday and Friday round, where unfortunately we did not make the cut. I gave my player a hearty thank-you for taking me on, and putting up with my ineptness through the first few practice rounds, and we parted ways for what I thought would be the last time.
Fast forward to February of this year.
My wife and I have a newborn daughter at home. My wife is on mat-leave and working as a writer from home, I can work from anywhere in the world, so we decide to go visit my in-laws in Palm Desert for six weeks.
As it turns out there were LPGA tournaments in Phoenix, Carlsbad and Palm Desert while we were going to be down there. I touched base with the woman I caddied for before and mentioned we’ll be down there and if she needs a caddy I would be happy to take on the task. Despite my previous efforts at caddying, she quickly agreed and just like that I was on my way to caddying in a minimum of two more LPGA tournaments.
How to become a professional caddy
As I’m sitting here typing this out, I realize that my own story is mostly luck. But it’s also making yourself available to opportunities that come up, and diving in head first. So, while my path to becoming a professional caddy may have been unusual, it’s not impossible for you to become one as well.
The first thing you need to be a caddy is good golf knowledge. Most caddies – although it’s important to note not all – are good golfers in their own right. Through my three weeks of caddying I met caddies that were former McKenzie Tour players, mini-tour players, collegiate golfers, and European tour players. This is certainly not a prerequisite, but many players on tour will ask for your advice with reading greens, and different shot shapes during different conditions.
Personally, I’m a 7-handicap golfer, with no professional tournament experience. I was just fortunate that I was paired with a golfer who is very independent and didn’t need to rely on me for yardages, green reading or shot calling.
At absolute minimum, you need to know the rules of golf and the etiquette of golf.
Next thing you need to be a professional caddy, is athleticism. You need to be physically capable of carrying a 40 lbs bag around a golf course for 6 days in a row. Two of the three courses I walked were extremely hilly and played long yardages – the typical golf course equals 6-8 kilometers of walking. The third course, was flat but was a desert course in Phoenix with no shade while temperatures jumped between 36 and 40 degrees Celsius.
Once you’re in tournament week, calling in sick is not an option. Good shoes, blister pads, band aids and staying hydrated are keys to making it through the week.
Lastly, is to get involved. Find local professional tournaments and don’t be shy. Just ask. Most mini-tour players or players on the McKenzie tour as well as some players on the Web.com and LPGA tour won’t have their own caddies. Find out who the caddy master is for that week, and get in touch with them. The more experience you have, the better, but as I have demonstrated it’s not absolutely necessary.
This is the point in my articles where I usually like to include additional resources to help you in your journey. However, when it comes to caddying there isn’t many. My advice to you is to contact private courses in your area, or local tournaments in your city.
If you have questions you’d like me to answer, or you’d like to hear about the time I talked Harry Potter with Michelle Wie, leave a comment!