Joe LaCava and PGA Tour Caddie Economics

Joe LaCava and PGA Tour Caddie Economics 1
Joe LaCava is Tiger’s new bag man.

JOE LACAVA WORKED HIS FIRST tournament for Tiger Woods this past week, a new employment opportunity LaCava called a “no-brainer.” It’s LaCava’s third bag this year. He started the year with long-time employer Fred Couples and then moved on to rising star Dustin Johnson at Freddie’s suggestion. Finally, he split with world No. 5 Johnson to loop for Woods.

Why? That’s easy. “Because he’s Tiger Woods,” LaCava said. “Enough said.”

Woods finished T30 at the Open, posting 73-68-68-68—277.

But, as Karen Crouse of the New York Times reported, not all loopers share LaCava’s perspective. Money and future potential matter.

LaCava’s decision to leave Johnson for Woods surprised some caddies, who are like horsemen when it comes to picking their rides. They place great weight on recent performances, which makes sense since, in addition to a base salary for the week—roughly $1,500, a large chunk of which goes toward travel and lodging expenses—they also receive a percentage of their boss’s earnings: 6 percent for a made cut, 8 percent for a top-10 finish and 10 percent for a victory.

Caddies come and go. Sometimes they fire players, as PGA Tour veteran Paul Goydos noted, but mostly players dismiss caddies. It’s a constant. And it can happen in a variety of ways. Tour caddie Erik Bergerud once lost his job via email.

Ricci Roberts, who caddies for Ernie Els, might be counted as one of the bag men who raised an eyebrow when LaCava abandoned Johnson. Roberts called Johnson an “ATM machine.”

Roberts has lost track of the number of times he has been hired and fired by Els. Five or six, he decided. “It’s like a bad marriage.”

“I’m glad he keeps coming back,” Els said. “I don’t know how many times I can keep doing it to him.”

LaCava should fare better with Woods. Both men are accustomed to long-term player-caddie relationships. But there are no guarantees. Just ask Steve Williams.

−The Armchair Golfer

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

4 thoughts on “Joe LaCava and PGA Tour Caddie Economics”

  1. I would guess that LaCava/Woods have a singular pay relationship that may be more salary weighted than most. Also, Woods plays a limited schedule closer to LaCava's home whereas Johnson had indicated he might seek Euro Tour membership as well as the PGA Tour.

  2. At this point it's more about notoriety than money for LaCava. He'd like to remain on the PGA Tour big stage which is why he moved from Freddy to Johnson in the first place. The move to Tiger is logical because he's now center stage.

  3. Joe LaCava was fired by Freddie! He is so loyal that Freddie knew Joe had a lot of good years left on a bag and he was not playing as often on the Senior Tour. Joe wouldn't leave Fred because they were like family. So Fred made the decision for him. The move from Dustin to Tiger was a natural progression when the offer came. They seem like a good match.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.