This blog is about being an amateur caddie for professionals on international European professional golf tours. I (known as ‘Belgiangolfer‘ on Leadingcourses) am a modest 17 handicapper and no one has ever told me what I should do on a golf course helping a touring pro, but somehow it seems to work out okay!
The idea to be the bag man for a professional golf player arose in the early years of the new millennium. I was watching a golf tournament on the Ladies European Tour in Arras, and I noticed that Swedish star Carin Koch did not like her local caddie. I felt the urge to step in immediately. However, it still took me years before I was able to find a bag. As you understand, this was the era before Facebook and Twitter, communicating with players was much more difficult back then.
In 2007 I followed Belgian player Bénédicte Toumpsin who played in the same flight as Christine Hallström from Sweden. Christine didn’t have a caddie, but had a push cart. The next year I took my chances. I found Christine’s email address on her website and emailed her with my question whether she needed a caddie. I was afraid it wasn’t going to work, but to my surprise she said: “I can use a little caddie help, so why not.” In the end I didn’t caddie for her after all because her coach came along last-minute and he carried her bag.
In 2009 I sent Christine’s fellow Swede Johanna Lundberg an email and mentioned that I was supposed to caddie for her friend the year before. Johanna decided to give me a chance and so I got my first experience as a caddie at the ABN Amro Ladies Open in The Netherlands. Johanna missed the cut after two days, but I was asked by another Swedish player to caddie the last round for her.
Now 9 years and 10 tournaments later I’ve been a caddie on all major professional tours in Europe, both men and women: European Tour, Ladies European Tour, Challenge Tour and LETAS.
Highlights of being an amateur caddie on a professional tour
Being crazy about golf as I am, you can imagine how much pleasure it has given me to do this. These are some of my highlights as a caddie:
- Leading a tournament at Ladies European Tour at some point (with Laura Murray in 2015 at The International in Holland)
- Having a living legend like Laura Davies in the flight (again in 2015 at The International on the final day)
- Winning a tournament (in 2016 at the Ladies Nations Invitational at The International with team Schotland)
- Having players in the flight that made it to top circuits or major wins (Georgia Hall won a major, Luna Sobron and Olafia Kristinsdottir which I met on the LETAS now both play on the LPGA, etc)
- Caddying on European Tour at the KLM Open at The Dutch in 2016 (brilliant experience with all the volunteers and Andrew McArthur and me just missed the cut by one)
Advantages of being a caddie
Not only is it a lot of fun to do, but there are also certain advantages to being a caddie on a professional golf tour.
- You get to see good golf (most of the times) from the best view possible. I estimate the level of play from the pro’s I caddied for are similar to a +3.5 to a +4.0 handicap, so pretty good
- You can talk to your player during the round (which is pretty unique in our sport)
- Players sometimes discuss the shots with you. Again you’re in the best seat to get this interesting kind of information
- Most players I caddied for were pretty laid back and most appreciative of the help they got
- Tournaments are often played at great golf courses in good condition
- (Good) memories stick with you like a great holiday. I still can remember specific shots from several tournaments
- Tour bags of lady pro’s are usually quite light compared to my own bag. It’s a joy to carry this 😀
Qualifications to be a caddie
People have asked me if I have the right qualifications to be a caddie on a professional circuit. Maybe, maybe not. But there are a couple of qualities you need to have, when you want to caddie a professional tour player.
- Have experience as a golfer, so you need to know elementary etiquette and golf rules. A referee was once consulted by our flight, because I had raked a bunker where my player needed to re-drop after an unplayable lie. Fortunately I knew I hadn’t caused a penalty.
- Use rules of thumb that you always apply (like for example make sure that you always keep up with your player and not walk 50 meters behind him or her).
- Let the player take the initiative and don’t try to outsmart him or her. This is also very important and different to what a pro expects from a professional caddie.
- Learn from other caddies. I went on a golf holiday to Thailand a few times and several things that I apply now I learned from the best local caddies in that Asian country.
- Rake the bunkers properly. On the Ladies European Tour the player’s fine for a not well raked bunker is 300 euro!
Being a caddie for a tour player is a lot of fun and I would recommend it to anyone. For those interested, I’ve listed the tournaments where I have caddied. I hope it inspires other golfers to take up caddying too!
My caddie record
|2009||Ladies European Tour||Eindhovensche Golfclub||Johanna Lundberg (SWE)||Caddied first two rounds (missed cut), and then caddied Lena Tornevall (SWE) in the final round|
|2010||Ladies European Tour||Golfclub Broekpolder||Rhian Wyn Thomas||First two rounds (missed cut)|
|2011||Ladies European Tour||Golfclub Broekpolder||Barbara Genuini||Caddied all 3 rounds|
|2012||European Tour||Hilversumsche Golfclub||-||Caddied in the pro-am in the flight with defending champion Simon Dyson (ENG)|
|2014||Challenge Tour||Cleydael Golf & Country Club||Jérôme Lando Casanova (FRA)||First two rounds (missed cut) and Tain Lee (USA) final two rounds. Tain finished T6 at -12.|
|2014||LETAS||Rinkven International Golf Club||Vittoria Valvassori (ITA)||Caddied all 3 rounds|
|2015||Ladies European Tour||The International||Laura Murray (SCO)||3 rounds. Laura finished T14 at -1.|
|2015||LETAS||Rinkven International Golf Club||Johanna Gustavsson (SWE)||3 rounds. Johanna finished 4th on the OOM and gained an LET card|
|2016||LET||The International||Laura Murray (SCO)||Scotland won the event (Ladies Nations Invitational) and € 18.000.|
|2016||LETAS||Royal Waterloo||Laura Murray (SCO)||Caddied all 3 rounds|
|2016||European Tour||The Dutch||Andrew McArthur||2 rounds (missed cut by one stroke)|
|2018||LET||Royal Bercuit||Sanna Nuutinen (FIN)||3 rounds. Sanna finished 8th at +1|