How Much Do Caddies Make?
Being a golf caddie can be a very rewarding career option for many people because it allows them to participate in a sport they love while making some cash on the side.
Starter caddies can make a surprisingly high amount of money, which often makes this a great option for a first-time job.
However, it can also be an excellent lifelong career for those who understand golf at a higher level.
Let’s take a look at the different wage expectations to give you a feel for what to expect in this career field.
Earnings Vary Based on the Caddie’s Position
There are many different types of caddies working today, each of whom have slightly different duties and requirements for their success.
No matter what level a person is at, they can make a surprisingly good amount of money almost right away.
Let’s examine the different levels – teenage, amateur, and professional caddie – to get an idea of the average salary levels.
Then, we’ll look at how much PGA caddies make, as they can make significantly more money.
Average Teenage Caddie Pay Rates
Teenage caddies often work at smaller golf courses or those that don’t make quite as much money as others.
Therefore, they don’t make quite as much money as amateur or even professional caddies.
Typically, their pay rate is about $15-30 per hour, which is a very solid first job for a teenager.
The pay rate will vary based on factors such as the course itself and any tips that they may make.
And their hours are likely to be limited based on a few different factors as well.
First of all, teenage caddies will likely only work after school hours.
As a result, they won’t have the same kind of hours as an amateur or a professional caddie.
On average, they may end up working around 4-5 hours per day, which is good for about $60-120 per day.
If they work every day, that would be $300-600 per week.
However, most teenage caddies are not likely to work that many consistent hours because they are usually available on an “as needed” basis.
As a result, they may be called into work, rather than going to a golf course every day.
This factor significantly cuts into their potential earnings.
That said, others may have the chance to work more steadily and make good cash for a teenager.
Average Amateur Caddie Wages
Amateur caddies are a step above teenage caddies but usually consist of people who only caddie party time.
For example, they may caddie as a side hustle, making a little extra money between hours at their normal job.
Or they may only caddie for amateurs at a normal golf course and, therefore, get paid a little less than a professional.
That said, they can still average around $25-30 per hour.
Like with teenage caddies, though, their hours may vary depending on a variety of factors.
For example, some may have limited hours due to the demands of their normal job.
As a result, they may only put in 10-15 hours per week as the course.
This still nets them around $250-300 per week.
Amateur caddies are also limited depending on the number of people who use them.
Like a teenage caddie, they are often at the whims of the demands of the course.
That said, amateurs usually build up strong relationships with many golfers, which helps to expand their potential earnings and make it easier for them to consistently find great gigs and make more money on the course.
Average Professional Caddie Wages
Lastly, let’s examine how much a professional caddie makes on the job.
First, though, let’s define a professional caddie.
These individuals are usually those who have been amateur caddies for a few years and who have expanded their golf knowledge.
Reaching this level will give a person the chance to make around $45-50 per hour.
And, unlike teenage or amateur caddies, they are likely to work a full eight-hours a day.
So, a professional caddie is likely to make $360-400 per day or $1,800 to $2,000 per week.
They may be limited on how often they work, due to weather, but those in warm-weather areas could work year-round on their job.
Therefore, some professional caddies work other jobs in the off-season to stay busy, such as working at a golf pro shop.
However, other caddies have a professional golfer whom they follow to different tournaments.
This difference is important because some amateur caddies may also have a single amateur golfer whom they follow.
Typically, though, professional caddies are the ones most commonly associated with a single golfer, though others will work full-time for a golf course instead.
As a result, they may end up traveling to multiple tournaments every year and spending a lot of time on the road.
Later on in this article, we’ll talk more about how much the average caddie is likely to spend in expenses every year.
Before that, though, we should highlight how much PGA tour caddies make, as it is at this level that your highest potential earnings could be made.
PGA Tour Caddies Make Much More
When a caddie is good enough to get hired by a PGA Tour golfer, their potential earnings will go up almost exponentially.
That’s because the amount of money involved increases and they are more likely to make good money as a result.
70 percent of caddies on the PGA Tour earned six figure salaries this season.
— Shane O’Donoghue (@ShaneODonoghue) December 3, 2011
However, their potential salary is also tied into a variety of factors that are outside of their control and which could cause them to lose money if their golfer isn’t successful.
Fully understanding these elements can make this career option easier to understand.
You’ll also need to grasp what kind of expenses could make this career option one that is not wise for you.
Many PGA Tour caddies will make great cash that allows them to retire early while others will work hard and see a sub-par golfer sabotage their financial success time and time again.
Average Base Salary
A PGA Tour caddie is usually paid a base salary by their golfer to ensure that they make money while on tour.
The pay rate is pretty standard and reasonably fair – most make around $1,000-2,000 per week.
This rate is often slightly lower than some professional golfers, such as those who work at a golf course.
That’s because these caddies have the chance to make money if the golfer wins.
The base salary also varies depending on the golfer’s finances and what they can afford.
If a PGA golfer is just starting out or is someone who doesn’t win a lot of tournaments, they may only be able to pay $1,000 per week.
However, even high-success golfers may pay lower rates because they want their caddie to be inspired to help them win.
Again, the base salary varies depending on many factors.
Typically, though, most PGA caddies should be comfortable with this level of pay and have little difficulty handling their expenses while on tour.
Some even use part of their money to help families back home or simply save up their cash while single.
But no PGA Tour caddie is going to get rich on their base salary – instead, they are likely to bank on sharing earnings with the golfer.
Winnings Often Dictate a Caddie’s Success
As a PGA Tour caddie, you have the most chance of making good money and walking away with a high level of cash.
That said, this job can also be a high-risk one if your golfer struggles to make cuts at a tournament.
For example, let’s say that a caddie plays for about 20-30 events during the golf season and makes around $1,500 per week.
And let’s say that a season is around four months or so for the average caddie.
During this four-month season, they’ll get paid $1,500 per week for 16 weeks.
That’s a base salary of about $24,000.
That pay rate is not a great one, unfortunately, which means that the golfer needs to win some tournaments to help supplant the caddie’s pay.
Let’s say that the golfer doesn’t win any tournaments but finishes in the top 10 of 15 events that year, netting about $500,000 in the process.
As the golfer finished outside the top 10 in each of these events, the caddie would earn five percent of the total earnings.
That would be an extra $25,000, to net them $49,000 on the year.
This pay rate is much more reasonable but even it can be sabotaged by elements, such as the caddie’s expenses.
And it can go up if the golfer starts winning tournaments or getting in the top 10.
Variable Percentages are Not Unusual
PGA Tour caddies are in a strange position because their career success depends on that of another on a level that you will experience with no other sport’s job.
We’ve already touched on how PGA Tour caddies make a majority of their money based on how well the golfer places in a tournament.
However, we haven’t yet discussed variable percentages and how these influence your pay rates.
Simply put, variable percentages kick in based on how well a golfer does in a tournament.
We hinted at that before in our pay example above.
Simply put, you’ll get paid depending on how well a golfer does in a tournament.
In most cases, winning golfers pay around 10 percent to their caddies.
So if a tournament gives out $50,000, the caddie would get about $5,000 of that cash payment.
The percentages go down considerably as the golfer finishes further down the field.
For example, a placement in the top 10 usually nets a caddie seven percent of the winnings.
So if a second-place golfer wins $20,000 in a tournament, the caddie gets $1,400.
And if a fifth-place player gets $8,000, their caddie would earn about $560.
These payments are fairly low for a standard PGA Tour but may be paid on some lower-paying tournaments.
And this percentage drops even lower if a golfer finishes outside the top 10.
At this point, caddies are paid around five percent for their efforts.
So if a player who finished 12 gets around $5,000 for the same tournament, their caddie would earn $250.
Even worse, around half of a typical golf tournament doesn’t get paid at all, so if a golfer has a bad few days, a caddie may walk away with nothing.
This factor is very frustrating for many PGA Tour caddies because their pay hinges on the success of someone else – and not on the quality of their work.
And many caddies, particularly those just starting on the PGA tournament field, could even lose money if they aren’t careful with their expenses.
This factor is just one reason why many professional caddies are happy staying at one course.
Caddies Must Pay Their Own Expenses
The toughest part about being a PGA Tour caddie is that you’ll have to pay your own expenses while on tour.
This factor is one that can put struggling caddies in an even tougher position.
For example, some experts believe that around 25 percent of a typical caddie’s pay goes into travel and lodging expenses.
So if you earn $50,000 a year or so, expect to pay at least $12,500 per year on these expenses.
You’re also expected to pay other factors, such as your health care, when you are a caddie.
While the PGA will usually reimburse you for these payments, you’ll need to make them initially out of your pocket – or your insurance policy – to ensure that they get paid at all.
This factor often makes it very hard for some caddies to walk away from a tournament with any money at all.
Even worse, PGA caddies are also expected to pay for their clothes – which must be professional, clean, and well-pressed – all of their food, and anything else that must be paid for on the tournament.
While it is true that some higher-earning golfers do pay some of a caddie’s expenses – such as private jet flights or stays in private homes while on tour – those who make less cannot afford these payments.
As a result, a typical caddie is just as invested in the success of the golfer as that golfer is in their wins.
In fact, a caddie may rely on the golfer even more because the player walks away with far more cash than the caddie if the golfer is successful.
As a result, it is critical to understand how to help a golfer achieve better success while on tournament and how to keep them focused on the course.
Doing so can help a caddie make a lot more cash than they may have otherwise done.
How to Help a Golfer Win
If a golfer is middling or mediocre in skill – as a surprising number of PGA competitors are in reality – there’s not much that a caddie can do to increase their chances of winning.
However, a caddie can still help to keep them focused and increase their chances of winning.
For example, they can try to keep the golfer away from any greasy foods or alcohol that may weigh them down and make competition harder.
They can also help the player relax before the big day by using relaxation techniques.
Yoga, deep breathing, and visualization are all good skills for a caddie to know.
Use them if a golfer seems tense and they are more likely to feel loose, relaxed, and fun on the course.
Remember: golf is a game and even a competitive one should be fun for the golfer and any other participant on the course.
Caddies should also try to keep golfers away from any distractions that make it harder for them to focus.
While there’s nothing wrong with having some safe fun, it is important to steer the golfer away from distractions on the day of the tournament and keep them focused on what truly matters.
And if the golfer is not capable of helping a caddie make a livable wage, it may be time to split off and find someone else who can pay you better.
Typically, there are plenty of PGA golfers who need a caddie to join up with them.
You may also want to find a golf course near you that can pay good money on a steady basis, rather than the more sporadic pay you get from mediocre golfers.