golf caddies

Caddies are those people who are normally seen carrying golf bags for golf players along the golf course.

However, very little is known of the game in terms of participants, rules and regulations but of little recognition are the Caddies.

Interaction with some of them has uncovered the lid on what entails to be one

Mr Joseph Odonde is a caddie from Leisure lodge golf course in Kwale County and Vice chairman of the Kenya National Caddies Association (KNCA).

Mr Odonde that the work of a caddie was not limited to carrying golf bags but there are a lot of duties carried out by them.

He added that there are 8,000 members of KNCA across the country.

He said that the caddies play a very crucial role in supporting golfers to achieve their potential on the course.

“A golfer needs a maximum of 14 clubs in their golf set and caddies direct the players around the golf course.

 It is the responsibility of a caddie to ensure that the player has not more than 14 clubs or they will be disqualified,” said Mr Odonde who joined the profession in 1997.

He added that “A caddie is not just a bag carrier but you have to advise the player hence a caddie must be a golfer even if he or she is not a perfect golfer but they must have experience.

And he must ensure that the clubs do not get lost since they will get in trouble if they lose even one.”

Picking your caddie

Before a match, caddies are displayed and players choose who they want to be caddied by and then the caddies immediately take up the responsibility of ensuring all is set for the course. 

“The first thing you do is get to the guest, introduce yourself as the caddie of the club and you take responsibility by proceeding to the caddies master who will direct you where to go,” he said.

The caddies also observe many things including the terrain of the golf course, the wind direction and the weather and advise the player.

And on dressing, participants are allowed to dress in casual wear but jeans and round-neck shirts are not allowed.

The caddies also experience tense moments as their players, especially in competitive matches.

However, the earnings of caddies are meagre in Kenya and most take home Sh. 1,000 per game.

“There are some clubs who pay higher amounts but there are those who still pay peanuts for the caddies.

Earning is Sh. 1,000 when you do 18 holes while there are other players who pay even double the caddie fee when the game is satisfactory,” he said.

He adds that a caddie may have a player only once a week forcing them to survive on one day’s earnings for the rest of the week.

Caddie Earnings

Information from GolfLink, a golf website, Caddies that work at country clubs and golf courses and carry recreational golfers’ clubs make between $100 and $140 per bag they carry.

Caddies for professional golfers and those on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour earn between $1,500 and $3,000 per tournament, plus a percentage of the player’s winnings.

Further, based on a player’s finish, a typical caddie rate is around 5 percent of the winnings for any finish outside the top 10.

Players breaking into the top 10 but not winning, will share 6 percent and 8 percent of their prize with their caddies while winning players may share up to 10 percent of the prize money with their caddies.

However, it all depends also on the player and caddie agreement where terms are agreed upon which could include a caddie taking more for a weekly salary and less on the tournament earnings side. 

The travel and hotel costs are also negotiated and some players cover those costs for their caddies as well.

Other sources

Caddies can also earn money from sponsorships by wearing hats or logos of corporations on their shirt sleeve, most likely a club manufacturer or apparel brand.

Mr Odonde said that in Kenya most professional golfers started off as caddies at one point, the likes of Naomi Wafula.

“We have some people who are ready to uplift the caddies from the caddy house and most of the pros we have now are products of the caddie house.

An example is Naomi Wafula who is a product of Rose Naliaka.

If we can get people like that who can pick and nurture the talents at the caddie house we can get better and play the tour matches,” he said.

He said the hindrance was a lack of support financially and morally.

Mr Naftal Owino who is the Chief Officer for sports in Kilifi County said that his department was organizing golf courses within Kilifi to start nurturing talent for future tournaments.

“We will be starting under fifteen to have the younger generations into the sports as we prepare for the future,” he said.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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