When Tour golfers play well, they always give massive credit to their caddies. Their right-hand man. “We read the greens and putted well today,” or “We made some great decisions out there today. When a player doesn’t have a good day, they say ‘I’ instead. ‘I putted poorly today,’ or ‘I struggled to find a fairway today.’
A world-class caddie can be worth two or three shots, possibly more, a round. They analyse wind direction, help with club selection and assist in the reading of the greens.
Anybody that thinks a caddie is mainly there to carry a bag around doesn’t understand the game of golf. A great golf caddy can make or break any round of golf.
How Much Do Tour Caddies Earn?
A caddie will earn a base salary plus a percentage of any winnings that the player makes—generally 7% for a top ten finish and 5% for everything else. When a player has a good week, this can amount to significant sums of money. Players will cover the travel expenses for their caddies.
Caddies earn so much, as most golfers view the sport as a team event. You would be hard-pressed to find any top golfer who wouldn’t attribute a large portion of their success to their caddie.
The primary role of a modern-day caddie is arguably to ensure the players are in a good place mentally before, during and after the round. The mental clarity that golfers get at the top level from having the same trusted caddy is essential for any player to succeed.
Let’s take a look at the very best caddies in the business, past and present.
Michael Greller and Jordan Spieth are fast becoming a modern-day Jim McKay and Phil Mickelson. Like Leftie, Spieth’s mouth never stops moving from his walk to the first tee right through until the walk back to the clubhouse after sinking the final putt on the 18th.
Greller seems to say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at times, hands out some clubs now and again, and listens a lot.
Mike (Fluff) Cowan
This 40 year veteran of the bag was famously Tiger Woods’ first PGA caddie, they worked together for Tiger’s first three years on tour. Cowan was on the bag when Woods won his first Masters in 1997.
Before that, the walrus-moustached man from Maine served Peter Jacobsen for 18 years. In the 22 years since Fluff stopped carrying Tiger’s bag, he has taken Jim Furyk’s.
The Johnson brothers share an incredible bond, and together they have accomplished quite a bit.
Austin Johnson got lucky. Having a brother who happens to be one of the very best in the world at something isn’t something you can plan for.
Dustin is never slow to attribute a share of his success to the great relationship he has with his brother, both on and off the course. Expect to continue to see the Johnson brothers together at the top of leaderboards for many years to come.
Alfie Fyles was Tom Watson’s caddie for all five of his victories in The Open Championship. In the famous ‘Duel in the sun’ at Turnberry in 1977, Watson planned to hit a six-iron to the green on the 18th but taking the adrenaline pumping through Watsons veins into account; Fyles persuaded his friend to take the seven iron. The rest is history; Watson knifed it two feet from the hole and sunk the putt to secure one of the most remembered Major wins of all time.
Tony Navarro carried Greg Norman’s bag for 12 years, including at the Sharks triumph at the 1993 Open Championship at Royal Saint George.
Other golfers of note Navarro has caddied for include Jeff Sluman, Ben Crenshaw and most recently, Adam Scott.
Adam Hayes is a highly respected caddie on the PGA Tour, where he has been carrying the bags of top players such as Russell Henley, Ben Crane, Vaughan Taylor and Jason Duffner for over twenty years.
He currently works for Jon Rahm though, and will surely earn excellent wages for many years to come if this pairing sticks together. Hayes has undoubtedly been an integral part of the success of Jon Rahm in recent years.
Nick Faldo credited the Swede Fanny Sunesson as being a huge part of his success. She was at his side for four of his six major victories.
Sunesson worked with Sergio Garcia and Fred Funk before ending her caddying career with Henrik Stenson (the two are seen at top of page) before moving onto a new role coaching Martin Kaymer.