The name for a golfer's help. Like most of the genuinely old terminology of golf, caddie was originally a Scottish word. In 18th-century Edinburgh it meant an errand boy who could be hired for odd jobs, only one of which was to carry golf clubs. The word is a Scottish borrowing of French cadet which means 'young soldier.' The word 'caddie' is different than 'caddy', which is a box for tea.

Being a caddie was a great way for a kid to earn some money after school, or especially during the summer. You'd go out to the local Country Club and start at the bottom rung (initiate caddie) with the caddie master. The caddie master was some older teenager who'd worked his way up to ladder to the top. However, since these are basically kids we're talking about, this didn't mean he had acquired the skills of a corporate CEO when handling his staff.

The best way to suck up to the caddie master and get the good bags was either to beat the living crap out of some bigger kid whom he disliked, thus showing spunk and loyalty at the same time, or to bribe him. The good bags were the ones you'd carry for wealthy heavy drinkers who enjoyed the game no matter how they played, and would always tip heavily.

Thus, four purposes were served.

  • It kept the kids off the streets who were caddies.
  • It gave them a source of income.
  • It taught them how to work for a living.
  • It taught them something about how to play golf.

You'd be hard pressed to find a place that has caddies these days, outside of the PGA. Why? Because no one walks any more (for the most part) when they play golf. They get in these goddamned little golf carts and whiz around the course drinking beer out of a cooler. In the more genteel days, the drunken golfer kept a flask of real liquor in his bag.

So, now there are more overweight people and drunken kids playing golf, and it has ruined the game for me. I've been golfing for all my life, but I refuse to get in one of those little cars and ride around. I put my golf clubs on my back and carry them around, regardless of the heat or cold or rain.

When you're one of the few who is still willing to do this, you wind up playing either with or at least in front of these cart golfers. If you play with them, they always rush to their ball and sit there watching you walk as if you're holding them up. If you play in front of them, they're always hitting into you to show you that they want to play faster. The irony is that they will usually finish a round no more than 10 to 15 minutes quicker than walkers.

I hope like hell that 10 to 15 minutes is spent doing something worthwhile, because it cost me a game that I did dearly love at one time.

In the old days, a professional golf caddie had pretty much three rules to follow when hauling around the bag. They really are/were quite simple.

”Show up, shut up and keep up”

Over the years those rules have somewhat evolved. Nowadays, besides keeping the golfer’s clubs clean they have taken on a more expansive role. Caddie duties now include helping in the reading of putts (only when asked), knowing the distance to various targets and hazards on the course, knowing where the pin placements are, replacing divots and raking bunkers, tending the pin, and, most importantly, keeping the golfer’s head in place. After all, this is the guy/gal who you’ve hitched your star to and if you want to see any of the earnings it's a good idea to have them playing their best. While it’s sort of an unwritten code in golf a professional caddie can expect to earn 5% of the players earnings if they make the cut, 7% if the player finishes in the top ten and up to 10% if the player brings home the bacon and wins the tournament.

Many golfers form long term relationships with their caddies and have them on their bag for a number of years or quite possibly for an entire career. Of course, when things go south and it’s time to make a change the caddie might be the first to go. Take for example, Tiger Woods. He recently “fired” his long term caddie of 12 or so years when he began to fall off the pace stating that it was “time to make a change”. Naturally this fall off wouldn’t have anything to do with his recent infidelities or injuries but somebody had to take the fall.

In a strange twist of irony or fate, Woods old caddie, one Steve Williams, recently was hired by fellow pro Adam Scott. Adam Scott then went out and won the Bridgestone Invitational in Tiger’s first comeback appearance. Woods finished 18 shots off the pace and tied for 37th.

In an unprecedented interview, Williams was given more air time than the eventual tournament winner and called this victory “the best win he’s ever had”. Did somebody say “sour grapes”? I’d say that’s some pretty tall talk considering he was on Tiger’s bag for 13 majors, 16 world titles and 72 tournament victories and is probably a millionaire many times over.

Most members of the golfing community considered this a breach of “golf etiquette” and I tend to agree with them. The caddie should be seen, not heard and any accolades should go to the players.

For the record though, Williams was pretty much a dick when he was on Tiger’s bag. He intimidated spectators, reporters and cameramen in efforts to keep them away from his meal ticket.

Funny how water rises to its own level.

Cad"ie, Cad"die (?), n.

A Scotch errand boy, porter, or messenger. [Written also cady.]

Every Scotchman, from the peer to the cadie.


© Webster 1913

Cad"die (?), n. [Written also caddy, cadie, cady, and cawdy.] [See Cadet.]


A cadet. [Obs. Scot.]


A lad; young fellow. [Scot.] Burns.


One who does errands or other odd jobs. [Scot.]


An attendant who carries a golf player's clubs, tees his ball, etc.


© Webster 1913

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