Tiger Woods’ Caddie Makes as Much Money as a Brain Surgeon

Professional golfers rely on their caddies to help them strategize for each tournament they attend. These sidekicks can earn a lot of money if they work with the top golfers on the PGA Tour.

Caddies earn a percentage of the prize money the golfer wins, so caddying for a golfer who earns $1 million or more for an event could net the caddie a six-figure payday. Here’s a look at what the average caddie makes, as well as the unbelievable amount Tiger Woods’ caddie earns.

What does a caddie do?

A caddie’s job involves more than just carrying the golfer’s clubs around. For a typical Thursday-through-Sunday PGA Tour event, the caddies are usually at the course as early as Monday to map the course out.

They will usually walk the course with a level and rangefinder to chart the greens while using a yardage book to ensure the yardages are correct. The caddie will also measure out the hazards and roughs. The most time-consuming part of the day is determining the percentage of slope for each green, using the level.

On Tuesday, the caddie and his golfer will head out early for a practice round, using the information from Monday to establish a game plan. After that, it’s out to the driving range and putting green for more practice. Wednesday is typically reserved for a pro-am before the tournament begins on Thursday. During each round, the caddie will head out to the course a few hours before his golfer’s tee time to check the course conditions and look at pin locations.

How much does a caddie make?

Each caddie earns a weekly base salary, usually in the $1,800-$2,000 range on the PGA Tour (and closer to $1,200 for LPGA caddies). Most of this money goes toward the caddie’s travel expenses, like airfare and accommodations, which they must pay for. On top of the base rate, the caddie gets a percentage of his golfer’s winnings.

While prize money may vary, the typical payout is 5% if the golfer finishes outside the top 10, 7% for a top-10 finish, and 10% if his pro wins the tournament. So the caddie of a golfer who gets a $1.5 million prize for winning an event would earn roughly $150,000 plus a base salary. Golfers may also choose to give their caddie a tip or bonus on top of that.

How much does Tiger Woods’ caddie make?

Caddying for the world’s top golfers can be lucrative. Just ask Joe LaCava, Woods’ caddie. Woods earned $5.4 million on the tour in 2018, so estimating LaCava’s take based on the going rate is fairly straightforward. The caddie likely earned somewhere between $272,192 and $544,384 for the year, on top of the money he earned from weekly salaries.

This places LaCava in the same salary bracket as a brain surgeon; the median income for that profession is $395,225.

LaCava’s pay also compares closely to that of other highly paid professions, like anesthesiologists, who have a mean annual salary of $267,020, and obstetricians/gynecologists, whose meal annual salary is approximately $238,320. LaCava is also right up there with, if not exceeding, the president’s annual salary of $400,000.