The world of caddying has a very broad pay range that could be anywhere from a few dollars an hour for a beginner caddie at a public course in Asia to several hundred thousand dollars per year for the top professional caddies in the world. In recent years with elevated purses on both the PGA and LIV Golf tours as well as PGA Tour Championship bonuses, it has become possible for the top caddie to break one million dollars in a season.
The golf caddie is one of the most iconic and unique professions in the world of sports. Whether it is a touring professional relying on the guidance of a grizzled veteran or an amateur golfer spoiling themselves by having some weight taken off of their shoulders, the imagery of the golfer with a walking caddie is as old as the game itself.
However, in modern times, the professional caddie has become an endangered species outside of the world’s top golf tours. With the advent and proliferation of golf carts, they have become a luxury instead of a necessity for the club golfer. Currently, though, there are many golf courses around the world that are re-emphasizing the “caddie experience” as part of their brand and as the professional tours continue to increase pay for their members, there becomes more and more room to make a career as a caddie.
How Much Do Professional Caddies Make?
At the professional level - which implies that the golfer is competing for prize money - there is a sort of standard pay structure where caddies work for a flat-rate fee for the week, plus a percentage of the golfer’s prize money (if any is won). Typically the flat-rate fee for the week is going to be barely enough for the caddie to cover their personal expenses, and they will only make money when their golfer also has a high finish in the tournament.
While the percentages remain fairly standard, the scale of this payout varies dramatically along with the prize money from each tour. All pay structures are personalized between the individual caddie and golfer. The baseline range is usually 5% of all prize money, with bonuses increasing to 6-8% for a top-10 finish, and the coveted 10% standard bonus for a first-place finish.
It’s important to realize that this is a caddie’s gross pay. They typically have to pay for flights, hotels, meals, etc. out of this money, living a “life on the road” that eats up thousands of dollars per week potentially, so their actual profit from each weekly event is highly dependent on their golfer finishing high in the tournament.
How Much Do PGA Caddies Make?
On the PGA Tour, most caddies are getting $2,000-$3,000 per tournament week or for some a yearly base salary that spreads the money out over off-weeks as well. On top of this they are going to make 5% of any prize money the golfer makes, as well as 6-8% for a top 10, and a 10% share of the prize money for an outright victory.
This pay structure makes a PGA Tour caddie’s pay highly variable, along with their golfer’s. For example, a caddie who’s golfer has barely made the cut at a non-elevated PGA Tour event in 2023 might receive a bonus of under $1,000. The caddie for a winner of a single tour event could receive well over $100,000 in bonus money from their golfer. Meanwhile, the caddie of a golfer for a major championship or elevated PGA Tour event could receive several hundred thousand dollars for a single week’s work!
How Much Do LPGA Caddies Make?
LPGA caddies get paid in a similar way to their PGA Tour counterparts, except the scale is proportional to the salaries of the women they are caddying for. This means a stipend of $1,200-$2,000 per week, plus a percentage of the prize money for the week.
This means that for the biggest events on the LPGA schedule, the winning caddie could take home a six-figure payday. For a normal win, they could expect over $20,000 in bonus money for the week. Caddies for golfers who barely making the cut at a non-major tournament could make just an extra $150 for the week.
How Much Do Korn Ferry Tour Caddies Make?
A typical pay rate for a Korn Ferry Tour caddie is going to be a weekly flat rate of $500-$1000, varying greatly depending on caddie experience. Like the other professional tours, these caddies will also garner a percentage of any winnings that their player makes.
For a winning caddie during the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour regular season their payout would be $18,000. Which sounds fantastic, but anything outside the top 10 will have the caddie taking home a few hundred extra bucks, with players barely making the cut earning less than $200 in prize money for the caddie’s share.
Needless to say, hotels, plane tickets, rental cars, and food stay the same price no matter what league you’re in, so caddies on the Korn Ferry Tour have to get very creative or basically gamble on a high finish in order to maintain a lifestyle cris-crossing the country for most of the year.
How Much Do Caddies At The Masters Make?
Caddies at the Masters are going to make the standard weekly salary for a PGA Tour caddie, which is $2,000-$3,000 for your average caddie (or more for a top-ranked player in the world).
In addition to this base rate, most caddies are going to earn 5% of the prize payout, and then 7% for a top 10, and 10% for a win. These numbers can vary but this is a common arrangement.
Based on these numbers, at the 2022 Masters if a player made the cut, most caddies got a bonus ranging from $2,000 to $20,000. Inside the top 10, a caddie could receive $25,000 to $100,000+ as a bonus, and the winning caddie received 10% of the $2.7 million dollar first-place prize, or $270,000!
How Much Do US Open Caddies Make?
US Open caddies make their base pay of a few thousand dollars a week, but the real pay is if their player makes the cut. Most caddies receive 5-8% of the prize payout for a made cut, and 10% is the standard rate for a win.
Since the US Open is typically the highest-paying regular-season PGA Tour event, it also is the biggest payday for the caddies. At the 2022 US Open, with a prize pool of $17.5 million, a caddie for a player who made the cut could have received a bonus of anywhere from $1,800 to $17,000. A top 10 finish could have meant a payday of $35,000 to $150,000. The winner’s caddie payout was 10% of the $3.15 million dollar prize, or a whopping $315,000!
How Much Do Caddies Make A Year?
What caddies make per year all depends on who they are caddying for. At the lowest levels, caddies work primarily for tips on top of a smaller base pay, and even at the highest levels, they work for a percentage of their golfer’s winnings, which functions similarly.
Caddies at a golf resort or private club could make anything from $30,000 per year (or less if the job is seasonal) up to over six figures at some of the busiest, high-end golf resorts, but they are working a lot of 10+ hour days to accomplish that.
Caddies on the LPGA Tour and PGA Tour might make $50,000-$150,000 per year unless their player is winning tournaments or one of the top players on the tour. The rate is highly variable from week to week and year to year. After deducting travel expenses, even LPGA and PGA caddies have an actual take-home pay that is middle class at best, and that requires being away from home for almost half the year or more.
Who Are The Highest Paid Caddies?
The highest paid caddies are without a doubt the caddies for the top players on the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. These two leagues pay dramatically more money to their players, and thereby the caddies earn more. The top two money winners on these tours for 2022 were Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. Rory McIlroy’s caddie Harry Diamond is reported to have earned nearly $3 million after getting his share of the season-ending FedEx Cup championship bonus and Dustin Johnson’s brother Austin Johnson likely broke into the multi-millions as well after DJ’s four wins plus the team Aces prize money netted the player over $35 million.
Top 10 Highest Paid Caddies
It’s hard to make an exact list since the exact player-caddie arrangements are not publicized, but based on the top earners for the top men’s golf leagues in the world, we estimate that the following caddies made the most money in 2022:
Harry Diamond (Rory McIlroy)
Austin Johnson (Dustin Johnson)
Ted Scott (Scottie Scheffler)
Sam Pinfold (Cameron Smith)
Kessler Karain (Patrick Reed)
Austin Kaiser (Xander Schauffele)
Robert Brown (Sungjae Im)
Matt Minister (Patrick Cantlay)
Mal Baker (Talor Gooch)
Jim “Bones” Mackay (Justin Thomas)
Keep in mind that this does not take into account any endorsements the caddie may have for wearing a logo on their golf hat or shirt.
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How Much Do Caddies Make At Country Clubs?
At a high-end country club, the median pay for carrying a bag is $100. Some elite clubs may take more, and some may take less. These caddies also work for tips, however, with many relying on significant tips - as much as 50% of the bag fee or their total pay being 50% of the greens fee for the course, as one marker.
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How Much Do Teenage Caddies Make?
A teenage caddie is probably working at a local country club and working mostly for tips. They may be a very good golfer in their own right, playing high-level amateur golf, so don’t underestimate them. Different clubs and different state laws dictate different arrangements but the typical caddie arrangement at a high-end club is $100 per bag plus tips.
No matter if the golf course charges a caddie fee and a tip is added, or if the caddie works completely off of gratuity, one good rule of thumb is - the caddie should take home ROUGHLY 50% of what the greens fee is for the course, at least as a starting point to work from based on the experience.
How Much Do Caddies Make An Hour?
Caddies don’t work on a per-hour basis typically, but if you divide out their pay they could make anywhere from $20/hour for a junior caddie at a public course to $60 per hour (or even more if tips are good) for a caddie double-bagging at a high end resort or country club.
Keep in mind that these rates virtually never include any benefits or compensations and after taxes, insurance, and factoring in slow times, you can’t exactly compare a caddie’s pay with that of a lawyer or an engineer. That said, many have quit their jobs as such in order to go chase your golf ball around the course for a living, so don’t be surprised if you meet a few next time you get the opportunity to hire a caddie!
What Do Professional Caddies Do For Their Players?
Professional caddies are required to perform a wide variety of tasks for their players, in most instances. What exactly is needed is going to change over time, from week to week, and from player to player.
The “original” caddie rules were simple: “show up, keep up, and shut up.” As the game has evolved, so have the caddies, and many PGA Tour caddies will tell you their job isn’t really about carrying a golf bag or figuring out yardages for their player, but they are experts at walking a razor-thin line that weaves its way somewhere between the realms of best buddy, sports psychologist, a punching bag, and emotional support animal. The finest art for a tournament golf caddie is the knack of knowing when to say something, and when to remain quiet.
Aside from the “soft” skills required of most caddies, they also help in replacing divots, raking bunkers, and tending pins. Many will assist their players in practical aspects of the game, as well. Among other things, a professional caddie will:
- Help manage the spectators
- Help get or confirm yardages, lies, etc.
- Help with current wind direction and speed
- Help recommend which club to use
- Help the player manage moisture in when playing golf in the rain
- Help players read greens or line up putts
- Help players with course management
- Help with decisions like approach targets or tee shot lines
- Help keep clubs clean
- Help keep grips clean
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What Are The Requirements To Become A Caddie?
The old joke (that wasn’t really a joke) was that three things were required of a caddie: “Show up, keep up, and shut up.” And as most caddies were there just to carry the bag and earn a nickel, this was the jist of the job.
Now, the requirements may be a lot more. Ultimately, the most important thing is that on the professional level, you usually have to have a connection to a player who needs a caddie, as most jobs are earned by word-of-mouth referrals. Sounds simple, but many players nowadays are having friends or family (often a spouse or brother) start out carrying their bag until they eventually connect with a seasoned caddie, or in some cases the friend or family member gets the permanent job. On all levels, caddies should know how to read a green, how to gauge wind, and how to get a yardage with or without a rangefinder or yardage book. Aside from this, they should also be physically capable of carrying a golf bag in all weather conditions for up to 5+ hours.
Do Pro Caddies Get Paid If Player Misses The Cut?
Professional caddies get paid a weekly base rate in almost all cases, which varies depending on which TOUR they are on and how established their player is.
For lower-level PGA Tour caddies and for caddies on all other professional tours, caddies will get paid anywhere from $500-$2000 for their week working, but when you factor in travel expenses, taxes, insurance, and other “hidden costs” many professional caddies actually can lose money or break even if their player does not make the cut.
Do Caddies Pay Their Own Expenses?
As mentioned above, caddies absolutely pay all their own expenses. While every caddie arrangement is personal between the player and caddie, there are generally a very select number of high-level pros who will arrange the contract to include travel expenses for their caddie, but it isn’t really relevant to 99% of the professional caddies out there, as they are expected to pay their own way from their weekly base rate and any prize money cuts that come their way.
The only exception is if a player is hiring the caddie to play in a tournament overseas, sometimes for that week alone some travel expenses will be paid, or the base rate will be increased because it is understood that travel expenses could be thousands of dollars more than a domestic event.
All in all, caddies have maintained their place in the game of golf, especially at the highest levels. But just like the golfers they are working for - the game is rarely easy for them, and only for a select handful are their jobs and finances really secure.
In a sense that could be only fair, as the player and caddie at most levels of professional golf (where the competitors are not household names) have their fates bound together, living on the edge of whether or not their efforts are actually worth it and living off the hope of the next big break or the next big payday to grease the wheels a little bit.
Keep this in mind the next time you have the chance to play at a course that offers walking caddies. It’s a unique experience in the sporting world, and the best advice for your average golfer out there is “if you have the chance to play at a course that offers caddies - take one.” No matter the stakes, there’s not a much cooler feeling than hitting a green, being handed your putter, and taking that stroll up the fairway on a beautiful day without a care in the world … and what might seem like the weight of the world off your shoulders, as well!