Most lovers of the game know golf should not only be played on foot, but in the company of a caddy whenever possible. Among all the other things a caddy does, he (or she!) will be your psychologist, your swing coach, and your biggest cheerleader. I once eagled the second hole at Pebble Beach with a lucky chip, and I swear my caddy was so happy he almost wet his pants. What a great aid to my mental game that day!
Schlepping your clubs is the least important thing your caddy does, so don’t treat—or tip—him like a pack mule. A caddy knows whether that uphill approach requires one or two longer clubs, where your blind tee shot is likely to end up if you fade it a little, and just how irritated that member behind you is going to be if your slow play holds him up on the next hole. Then there’s putting—a good caddy sees breaks you’d need a micrometer to measure—the kind of local knowledge that helps you rake in the skins.
If you’re playing at an unfamiliar club, ask the starter or caddy master (it’s a good idea to slip him a few bucks, too) what caddies usually get for a round. Fees in Westchester range from $45 to $90 per bag, excluding tips. A fore-caddy, who accompanies players who ride a cart, will generally get about half that amount for each golfer. Don’t skimp on the tips, either—25% should be a minimum. These guys aren’t hauling your junk up and down all those hills just because they like to walk around outdoors with guys wearing spiked saddle shoes.
When you’re the guest of a club member, it’s extremely good form to pay both his caddy and yours—you’re also more likely to get invited back.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a romantic thriller about blood diamonds in the Congo