Home » 'You get to walk around and enjoy the day.' How to become a golf caddie – Democrat & Chronicle

'You get to walk around and enjoy the day.' How to become a golf caddie – Democrat & Chronicle

by Arifa Rana

Golf caddies are best known for carrying golfers’ clubs around the golf course. There’s more to it than that, said Graham Van Benthuysen, the caddie manager at Oak Hill Country Club. Responsibilities can include spotting where golf shots have landed on the fairway, measuring the distance to the green, cleaning golf balls and clubs, repairing divots left by errant shots and tending the flag on the greens.
“We’re in the hospitality industry,” Van Benthuysen said.
A caddie might help golfers select the proper club to use and help “read” the greens. Most have “caddie books” that reveal, for instance, the distance to bunkers on the course being played.
Of note: Most public courses in the Rochester area don’t employ caddies, Van Benthuysen said. At Oak Hill, they are classified as “independent contractors” who work for tips.
Endurance and vigor are important. Most rounds of golf last four hours or more, and the clubs can get heavy, particularly on hot, humid days. As such, many caddies are high school or college-age. Van Benthuysen said some are older people “who love being around the game.”
Caddies also should be personable and outgoing and act professionally, he added, and have a good base knowledge of golf.
Van Benthuysen said training is “not required but is encouraged.” Would-be caddies can start by caddying with friends or elders who golf. A lot of information is available in books and via online sites. Among local clubs, Locust Hill Country Club lists a caddie-training program on its website.
This varies greatly, depending on the course, the golfer from whom caddies are caddying, the caddie’s experience and more. As mentioned, Oak Hill’s caddies are “independent contractors” who work for tips. The same arrangement is likely in place at other courses.
Typically, a caddie makes at least $20 per round, Van Benthuysen said. Those who caddie for “someone like Michael Jordan” might get substantially more, like $500, Van Benthuysen said. Experienced caddies who work for pro golfers on tour typically receive 10 percent of the golfer’s winning purse.
The New York State Department of Labor and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics do not, apparently, calculate pay scales specifically for caddies. BLS lumps caddies in with those who work at, for instance, recreation centers, parks and summer camps, as “recreation workers” who make about $13.67 per hour.
A 2018 article by Forbes states, “On average, a teenage golf caddie can earn $100 to $200 carrying two bags for 18 holes … the real money is caddying is in the tips.”
Competitive. As mentioned, most public courses around Monroe County don’t employ caddies. Among the courses that do, applicants are plentiful.
“There are a lot of young guys who love golf and want to get into it,” Van Benthuysen said.
Oak Hill, he said, employs about 50 caddies and isn’t looking for any more now. The federal BLS calculates 10 percent job growth over the next decade for (all) “recreation workers.”
“You’re meeting new people. It could be good for networking,” Van Benthuysen said of caddying. “You get to walk around and enjoy the day.”
Where to learn more: The Rochester District Golf Association might be a good place to start. The website is www.rdga.org.
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Alan Morrell is a Rochester-based freelance writer.


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