Golf is a lucrative sport for the top players on the PGA Tour. They can take home millions by winning a single tournament. A golfer’s caddie plays a major role in that success, which means that professional golf can also be lucrative for them. How much money a caddie makes during a tournament is determined by how well his golfer performs. Here’s a look at what caddies do and how much pro golfers pay their caddies.
How does a pro caddie prepare for a tournament?
A caddie has several duties that are critical to a golfer’s success. For a typical PGA Tour event that runs from Thursday to Sunday, a caddie’s work starts on Monday, when he’ll walk the course alone with a range finder and level to chart the greens. He’ll ensure yardages are correct and figure out where the golfer should land his balls.
On Tuesday, the caddie will hit the course with his golfer for a practice round. Combined with the caddie’s information from Monday, the pair will make a game plan for the tournament. After a pro-am event on Wednesday, the tournament starts on Thursday.
What are a caddie’s duties?
On each tournament day, the caddie meets his golfer an hour before tee time to warm up. The caddie will get to the course before the pro — as much as four or five hours earlier for a late-afternoon round — to see if anything about the course has changed. This way he can relay that information to the golfer before he tees off.
The caddie looks for changed conditions like whether the course has become softer or firmer. He also checks the pin locations and watches other golfers to see how the ball reacts on the green. So, as you can see, caddying for a professional golfer involves more than just carrying clubs.
How much do pro caddies make?
A caddie on the PGA Tour receives a base salary — usually around $1,000 to $2,000 — to cover travel expenses. He will earn 5% of the winnings if his golfer finishes outside of the top 10 and 7% of the winnings for a top-10 finish. The caddie earns 10% of winnings when his golfer wins a tournament.
For example, if a golfer wins a tournament with a $6.4 million total purse, his caddie should take home about $115,200 — more than double his expected $48,384 share for a second-place finish. So, winning tournaments is important for both caddies and the golfers.
Pros may also decide to give their caddie a tip or bonus at the end of the tournament. It’s not all profit for the caddie, though, as he’s responsible for paying for his own travel and accommodations most of the time. As independent contractors, caddies must pay self-employment taxes and health care costs, even if it’s subsidized by the PGA Tour.
What do top caddies make?
Steve Williams is one of the most famous caddies in recent memory. He caddied for Greg Norman before spending 12 years caddying for Tiger Woods. After a public breakup with Woods, Williams signed on with Adam Scott.
In 2007 alone, Williams earned $1.4 million. This placed him in the top 75 PGA earnings that year without even playing a single tournament. During his 12 years with Woods, Williams earned an estimated $9 million, based on a 10% cut of the $88.8 million the golf legend won during that time.
When Brooks Koepka won the 2017 U.S. Open, he took home $2.16 million in prize money, the most ever for a tournament win at the time. His caddie, Ricky Elliott, likely received about $200,000 of that amount — more than what 98% of Americans earn in a year, let alone a week.