How Much Do Caddies Make? Golf Caddie Salaries Revealed

In my years navigating the lush fairways and challenging greens, I’ve always wanted a caddy- a trusted partner by my side. They’re not just carrying clubs but are often unsung heroes offering advice, strategy,  and even moral support during tough times.

But beyond our partnership on the course, a question I’m often asked is about their financial compensation. How much do caddies make?

Drawing from my personal experiences and broader industry knowledge, I’ll provide an insider’s perspective on the earnings of these essential contributors to the game of golf. 

  • The 2 Basics of Caddy Compensation
  • 3 Factors Affecting a Caddy’s Income
  • Caddy Earnings from Tournaments vs. Regular Rounds
  • The Top Earners
  • Hidden Costs and Challenges
how much do caddies make? caddie salaries unveiled

The 2 Basics of Caddy Compensation

There is a broad spectrum of compensation structures for caddies. Here’s a breakdown of the foundational aspects of caddy compensation:

#1: Standard Base Salaries or Day Rates

Most caddies operate on a standard base salary or a day rate, especially at private clubs and local courses. This rate can vary depending on the golf course’s prestige, the caddy’s experience, and the region.

For instance, a beginner caddy at a local golf course might earn between $50 to $100 for a round, while experienced caddies at high-end clubs could reach several hundred dollars a day. These rates often serve as a guaranteed minimum, ensuring the caddy earns a predictable income.

#2: Performance Bonuses and the 10-7-5 Rule

One of the intriguing aspects of caddying revolves around performance bonuses, especially in the professional realm. The better I perform in a tournament, the more my golf caddy earns. This rule is a general guideline followed by many professional golfers and their caddies:

  • 10% of the golfer’s winnings if they win the tournament.
  • 7% for a top-10 finish but not a win.
  • 5% for making the cut but not finishing in the top 10.

    This bonus structure motivates the caddies to be at the top of their game, ensuring they provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the tournament.

    golf caddies on the course

    3 Factors Affecting a Caddy’s Income

    Behind every successful golfer stands an astute caddy. With this camaraderie comes a question many fans and enthusiasts often ponder: “How much do professional caddies make on the PGA Tour?” Let’s shed light on this.

    #1: The Direct Impact of a Golfer’s Success

    While golfers often bask in the limelight on the PGA Tour, much of their success cascades down to their caddies’ pockets. Winning isn’t just good for the player; it’s fantastic for caddies. 

    A top-10 finish gives them 7%, and for other placements, it’s 5%. For a bit of perspective, in 2021, Justin Thomas’ caddy, Jimmy Johnson, pocketed around $270,000, largely thanks to these percentages.

    golf caddie carrying clubs over the green

    #2: Base Rates

    Beyond wondering, “How much do caddies make at The Masters?” it’s crucial to understand that each event has its financial nuances. Typically, a caddy can expect a base rate ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 for a tournament. But here’s the kicker: every golfer-caddy relationship is different, leading to varied contract details.

    Despite paying for their travel and accommodation, some caddies have contracts that more than make up for these out-of-pocket expenses. As a ballpark, many top caddies in 2021, like Austin Johnson, started with a base close to $120,000.

    #3 The Way Geography Affects How Much Caddies Make

    While the PGA Tour is a massive deal, golf is played on an international stage, with each region offering its unique compensation structure for caddies. Regional economic conditions, the sport’s popularity, and the tournament’s prestige can all sway what a caddy takes home.

    For example, during his time with Tiger Woods, Steve Williams, and Mike “Fluff,” Cowan’s early career showcased the broad spectrum of earnings in the caddy world. On a side note, here’s a list of 7 great tips you can learn from Tiger Woods to make your game better. 

    golfers at sunset, young caddy holding the clubs

    Caddy Earnings from Tournaments vs. Regular Rounds

    Each setting provides different earning potentials, from high-stakes tournaments to daily rounds at the local club. Here’s how much do professional caddies make:

    Tournament Triumphs

    Major tournaments like The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship are the crown jewels in the golfing calendar. Not only do they offer significant media attention, but their prize pots are also substantial.

    A golfer’s success at these events directly translates to a sizeable paycheck for the caddy. To give context, a win at such an event can ensure a caddy’s earnings for the entire year, if not more.

    vintage golf caddy and golf player at the links course

    Other PGA Tournaments

    Beyond the majors, the PGA Tour calendar is filled with numerous events. While these might not have the massive prize money of the big four, they still offer significant earning opportunities. 

    Nevertheless, if you’re looking for how much caddies make regularly, the average is based on such tournaments. Regular finishes within the top ten or even making the cut can ensure consistent income for the caddy throughout the year.

    Regular Rounds: The Day-to-Day Earnings

    Away from the glitz and glamor of the tournament circuit, many caddies also earn their living accompanying members and guests at golf clubs. The earnings here might not match the grandeur of major championships, but they offer a steady, consistent income.

    Depending on the prestige of the club and the clientele’s affluence, caddies can earn a decent wage, often with generous tips augmenting their day rate. If the caddies are too expensive, here’s how you can be your own.

    golfer and caddy discussing the lie of the green

    Striking a Balance: Consistency vs. Big Wins

    Much like golf itself, the caddy profession is a game of strategy. Some might prefer the consistent paycheck that regular rounds guarantee, while others might chase the dream of a big win at major tournaments.

    It balances the allure of potential life-changing payouts and the comfort of a stable, predictable income. For many caddies, the optimal path involves a blend of both, ensuring financial security while still chasing the thrill of the big stages.

    golfer swining as caddy watches on

    The Top Earners

    In the realm of the PGA Tour, while the golfers often occupy center stage, there are moments when their caddies step into the limelight with their own tales of significant windfalls. One of the most celebrated stories is Phil Mickelson’s victory at the PGA Championship.

    His trusty sidekick for this event was none other than his brother, Tim Mickelson. With Phil clinching a remarkable $2.16 million from the $12 million prize pool, Tim, in line with the usual caddie percentages, likely walked away with a staggering $216,000 from that single event, one of the highest-paid caddies

    But the tale of the Mickelson brothers isn’t solitary. There’s also the story of Jimmy Johnson, caddie to Justin Thomas. When Thomas secured big wins, Johnson’s take often soared into the six figures. Then we have Jonathan Jakovac, who caddies for Collin Morikawa. In 2021, Jakovac pocketed close to $486,825.

    golfers surrounding the player as he makes his putt

    Hidden Costs and Challenges—How Much Do Caddies Make?

    When I line up my shot, the focus is on the ball, the arc, and the target ahead, amongst many other things. But every stroke carries with it the shared experiences, challenges, and hopes of two people: the golfer and the caddy.

    A Wallet Thinner Than Expected

    It’s easy to look at prize money and think that life on tour is all luxury. Yet, beneath those earnings, caddies face sizable out-of-pocket expenses. Travel, from flights to car rentals, digs deep into their pockets.

    And while the player might stay in sponsored accommodations, caddies often shoulder hotel costs. Meals, refreshments, a replacement for a worn-out umbrella or raincoat – these add up quicker than you might think.

    The Tolls Beyond the Financial

    Then there’s the emotional and physical dimension. The golf course is expansive, the bag heavy, and the weather unpredictable. The weight isn’t just on their shoulders but on their minds, too. 

    As I ponder a shot, my caddy is already two steps ahead, analyzing, strategizing, and sometimes second-guessing. Those decisions, especially when stakes are high, come with a weight of their own.

    golfer and caddy on the course having a discussion

    How Much Do Caddies Make: Key Takeaways

    In the world of golf, caddies emerge not just as club carriers but as pivotal partners in a golfer’s journey. 

    Their earnings, while varying, encompass base salaries, performance bonuses, and potential windfalls from major tournaments. High-earning moments, like Tim Mickelson’s probable $216,000 from the PGA Championship, highlight the peaks.

    Yet, they often grapple with out-of-pocket expenses and the unpredictable nature of the sport. 

    Beyond the glamour of major wins, many rely on regular rounds for consistent income. While their earnings can be substantial, it’s a blend of highs, lows, and constant effort that defines a caddy’s financial landscape.

    Next Up: Gapping Golf Guide: How To Gap Your Golf Clubs To Shoot Lower Scores

    Photo of author
    After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

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