On occasion, the MGA publishes position papers on relevant topics of interest to our member clubs and golfers in our area. Youth caddieing has always been an important subject matter for the MGA and its charitable MGA Foundation. A white paper on ‘Youth Caddieing Today’ was published in December 2018. With the new season ahead, this follow-up news topic features getting started as a Met Area caddie.
The Metropolitan Area is blessed with the finest selection of golf courses in the nation. From the tip of Montauk to the New Jersey shore, there is no shortage of classic and modern designs that are a privilege to play…and to walk with a caddie. More than 200 private clubs and public facilities have active caddie programs.
A long-standing commitment to the development of caddies has always distinguished the Met Area. We estimate nearly one million rounds are played each year with a caddie at member clubs, and more than 8,800 men and women are actively engaged as seasonal caddies. At some venues more than 80% of rounds include a caddie. Many clubs would list the quality of their caddie program as one of their most valuable assets for their membership.
Why Caddieing Matters to Clubs
Playing golf while walking with a caddie is an absolute win/win. The player wins—nothing beats a great walk with a skilled caddie on the bag. The caddie, especially a teen, certainly wins—develop life skills and a work ethic, meet role models and earn good money, plus much more.
“I have learned that caddieing is based on merit; what you put into it is what you get out of it. I am confident that it has already changed the trajectory of my life.”
-local Caddie Scholarship recipient.
There is another win—the game of golf. The camaraderie between player and caddie is unduplicated in any other sport, reflecting the unique character of the game and a member experience that is highly valued in the Met area. The tradition of taking a caddie is a way of giving back to the game and an investment in its future.
Caddieing can jump start a lifelong involvement and passion for the game. Many who have enjoyed career success in a variety of fields proudly list ‘caddie’ as a first job and recall it as a life enhancing experience. And in many cases we know today’s club member got their start in golf as a caddie. Whether through educational advancement offered through local caddie scholarship funds or the network of contacts developed, caddieing can deliver opportunities unlike any other seasonal job for teens.
In addition, caddies are responsible for taking care of the the golf course as well as their players. Raking bunkers, removing debris, replacing divots, fixing ball markets and general maintenance are performed by caddies in the course of their rounds. This is another positive benefit that caddie programs in the Met Area continue to deliver.
Getting Started as a Caddie
For some the start is simple: a junior player who began caddieng for Mom, Dad, or their friends will start by connecting with a caddie manager for regular weekend work. Many high school golf teams have relationships with local caddie managers for players searching for a summer job.
However, in many instances, a teen wanting to start as caddie does not play golf. In this case, a timely education and an early connection with a local caddie manager is the key.
For more than 25 years, one of the key missions of the MGA Foundation is to introduce young people to caddieing. The Foundation launched its ‘Caddie Academy’ concept in 1991 as a way to educate young men and women ages 14+ to the art of caddying and its many rewards. Today more than 6,500 youth caddies have attended one of our academies.
Each spring the MGA Foundation publishes its Caddie Academy educational schedule. Sessions take place in April at clubs throughout the Met Area. There is no charge to attend, but pre-registration is required. The after-school sessions are scheduled for 4-6PM. Each session concludes with a certificate of completion and a listing of local caddie managers for follow up.
Following any Caddie Academy session, it is important to quickly make contact with a local caddie manager to show your interest and self-motivation. Don’t wait until the school year is nearly over because at that time caddie managers may have already filled their needs.
In the meantime, we often answer questions for those who inquire about caddieing opportunities. Several common questions are noted below. The MGA Foundation staff can always respond to your questions and can be contacted through email@example.com or 914-909-4838.
What are Some Key Requirements to Become a Caddie?
We put a focus on three important items:
2) Positive commitment
3) On-the-job learning
An 18-hole loop is about a four-mile walk with a 40+lb. golf bag when beginning with just a single bag. A typical round would take four hours. You need to be ready for a healthy walk, an attention to detail and a lot of hustle.
A caddie manager needs to see there is an on-going commitment to caddieing. There is work on weekdays and weekends during the peak season. A caddie manager can alert you to an outing opportunity at a nearby club on occasion. Reliability, motivation and good communications are key elements.
As with any new job, the learning curve is ongoing. You quickly learn things from players, from veteran caddies in your foursome and from sharing experiences with other new caddies. Your observation skills are tested in every round. The performance goal should always be continued improvement. Importantly, the financial rewards for caddies in this kind of seasonal work are very strong.
What is the Schedule Like for a New Caddie?
Count on an early start! For a new caddie, a peak season day can begin between 6-7a.m. You would always alert the caddie manager on arrival and there will usually be some waiting time for an assignment. Patience is critical when you are just starting. Remember, this is a new venture with better long term learning opportunities than other summer work. Caddies that show their commitment and hustle can advance quickly.
Some caddie managers use text and email to reach caddies in advance to confirm availabilities and assignments. Building on this limited practice, the MGA now has a partnership with the premier caddie scheduling software service, ClubUp, which provides seamless third party communication between the caddie manager and caddies, plus options such as cashless payment and a pace-of play service. Expanded use of this technology is a game changer for clubs, caddie managers and caddies.
The challenge at clubs is to adapt and change to deliver the best member experience possible. Beyond the value of reinforcing caddie status as independent contractors, web-based scheduling delivers more flex-time before/after a loop for any caddie and allows forward planning for other personal or work-based needs. The reality of the early morning logjam in the caddie yard is eliminated.
What about the Rules of golf?
An entry-level caddie will learn a few basic Rules in a Caddie Academy session. Most learning then occurs while on the job, especially working around more experienced caddies. As a caddie gains more experience, he or she would be in a position—only when asked by a player—to offer their input on a rules question. For any caddie at a club, a good basic understanding of the Rules makes you a more valuable caddie to your player. That is the position every caddie should be targeting.
What if I have caddie experience and just moved to the Met Area?
Working at a Golf Club
Caddies work as independent contractors. As a caddie you are not a club employee and you may be asked to sign a statement to confirm this status. Additionally, there may be some paperwork required for minors depending on the state. In most cases a club will request an emergency contact number to have on file.
Each club has its own traditions and expectations that a caddie manager will share. We are confident that spending time in an environment where the values and traditions of golf are reflected can be a very positive learning experience.
Finally, many clubs offer caddies an opportunity to play on the course at select times. For many new caddies this is a golden opportunity to learn to play golf and also to enhance their caddieing skills.
Thank you to the Met Area clubs, their memberships and the Caddie & Golf Services Managers Association (CGSMA) for continuing to support the education and development of youth caddies. An on-going commitment to our caddie community is a great legacy that the MGA and MGA Foundation continue to embrace.
- Part I: Youth Caddieing Today: A Modern Model for the Future of the Game
- View 2019 Caddie Academies Schedule and Register
- Caddie Academy: Frequently Asked Questions
- Caddie Training video
- ClubUp: Learn More
- MGA Foundation Staff Contact: Lou Cutolo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-909-4838.