A Guide to Tipping Caddies at The Golf Course (How Much, When, and Where)

Yes, it’s finally here: the weekend. 

I can’t think of a better car ride than a Saturday morning drive to a 10:10 a.m. start time with my sticks and spikes in the trunk, polo perfectly tucked in, and some George Strait blaring on the radio. 

However, today’s round may feel different for you. 

Maybe you’re on the way to show up a co-worker at your company’s annual tournament. 

Or possibly this is the weekend you join your buddy in his club’s member/guest event. Or maybe, a concierge is escorting you to the resort’s oceanside course.

In any event, today is the day where you finally have your own Steve Williams in your ear or Jim “Bones” Mackay on your bag.

But, before you remove the plush animal covering from your driver and pierce the first tee box, you better bring a little extra dough. No, this extra cash isn’t for your skins game, but rather, it’s for tipping your caddie who’s about to make this round a very special one.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how much you should tip your caddie, when to tip them, and other related questions you might have.

Let’s tee off! 

I’m supposed to tip the caddie? How do I go about doing this?

First, if you’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of playing with a caddie, you’ve probably never realized there exist a couple of different types available to you.

Below, you’ll learn the differences between each caddie. Then, we’ll dive into the standard procedures on tipping them.

Table of Contents

The Two Different Types of Caddies – Walking Caddie vs. Forecaddie

Walking Caddie

To start, most of us are familiar with your typical “walking” caddie. Traditionally, walking caddies are employed by upscale resorts and private clubs but sometimes, certain well-known public courses provide them as well.

This is the individual who carries your bag from shot to shot, exfoliates the grooves of your irons and tends the flag as you line up a birdie putt. 

These guys (or gals) work their tail off lugging your bag up and down the fairways while you briskly stroll 7,000 yards of freshly dewed Bermuda and save your back. 

Forecaddie

The next type of caddie is one you are probably less familiar with: the forecaddie. 

A forecaddie has a special role during your game. Instead of being assigned to one particular bag, forecaddies are generally assigned to the entire group. They are often employed through third-party caddieing services for corporate outings or fundraiser events.

Think of forecaddies as the marshals in a professional tournament standing near the tee shot’s landing zone with their coveted highlighter-orange fan, indicating the direction of a tee shot. 

Your forecaddie races ahead and sets up shop in the fairway to help locate your drive, aids in club selection for everyone’s approach and speed-walks around the green in order to provide a read for everyone’s putt.

How Much Should You Tip Your Golf Caddie?

Whether you’re playing Bandon Dunes, Pebble Beach, or any course in between, you should always tip your caddie. Period. 

After all, you wouldn’t leave the barbershop or salon without adding gratuity to your total bill, would you? 

Since having a caddie may be an entirely new experience to you, thankfully, there are a few general rules to help assist with how much you should tip.

For both types of caddies descrivbed above (walking and forecaddie), there are a few ways of determining the correct amount to tip: 

Flat Fee

Most of the time, the course or third-party service that provides the caddie will charge a flat rate per round (or per “loop”). 

For instance, Bandon Dunes charges a fee of $100 per bag. The historic Pinehurst has mixed rates depending on whether you want a caddie assigned only to you, or if you and the gang prefer a forecaddie for your round. Finally, throwing $25-$50 to the group’s forecaddie though is the normal standard.

Percentage

As a general rule of thumb, it’s fair to assume 20% is adequate. If your caddie provides an acceptable service for a standard four-hour round, follow the principles of restaurant tipping. 

You will never be in the wrong for adhering to this. Don’t forget, you’re the one not working and playing for fun. They are laboring to ensure you in fact have that fun. 

Price of Green Fee

If you are ever in doubt of whether to employ either of the previous two listed methods, tip your caddie based on your green fee. Friends of mine that go this route tip $20 per $100 spent on their green fee. 

Although this isn’t necessarily the “industry standard,” it’s an acceptable practice amongst many golfers. 

What if My Caddie Goes Above and Beyond My Expectations?

 Let’s assume your caddie’s services were beyond satisfactory and he or she wildly exceeded all of your expectations and made today’s round unforgettable. 

Maybe it was the advice you were given on the 16th green which enabled you to drain an impossible 50-footer. 

Or, it could’ve been how beautiful each of your approach shots felt due to the pristine condition of each club. 

Perhaps it was the insider tip you were given that dropped jaws of your buddies when you confidently hit a bomb off the tee which cut the corner of a daunting dog-leg. Maybe you surprised yourself as well.

 In any case, if you ever walk off the course feeling like you should be paid to play the game of golf due to your caddie’s help, this should warrant some extra compensation.

 Adding an additional $20, $30 or even $40 is always appreciated. Even tipping as much as 50% of the caddie’s fee is sufficient.

More importantly, this will leave a lasting impression. 

When is the Best Time to Tip My Caddie?

Now that you understand you have a duty to tip your caddie, whether it is imposed by the club or you’re a decent human and wish to comply with the game’s etiquette, when should you do it?

That’s an easy question: after the round is completed. 

It’s mainly best to wait until you reconvene at the pro shop, although not required. Just make sure this gets done before you head home.

Tipping Other Individuals at the Golf Course

As an avid golfer, you’re more than aware that a course employs a myriad of individuals. Whether it be the high school kid raking the balls from the driving range or the retired gentleman volunteering as the course Marshal leisurely managing the pace of play. 

Depending on this person’s title and service they provide, you might to invest in bringing a few extra Washington’s or Lincoln’s (or whatever prominent figure is stamped on your currency) in your pocket.

Who are these people?

In any given round of golf, you are guaranteed to run into or receive the benefits from numerous employees. Below, let’s briefly remind ourselves who these people are, the services they typically provide, and a suggested tip you may offer them.

Valet

We all know the primary role of your traditional valet. At the course though, this person may wear many hats. Aside from being responsible for your ticket home, the valet may also be the one who drives an empty cart directly to you when you first park your car and loads it up with your bag. 

Additionally, this same person might be awaiting for you post-round to not only return the cart but to give your clubs a once-over before being thrown in your trunk. 

I find the latter duty the most important because having clean clubs destroys any evidence of what’s reflected on my card and too, is essential to maintaining my car’s hygiene. 

It’s safe to throw this person a few bucks before you see them for the last time.

Locker-Room Attendant

Ah, yes, the locker room. Growing up as an athlete, there was nothing more sacred to me than this place. 

Even though the only locker with my name on it houses sweat-stained caps and dozens of extra tees pulled from my pocket, there doesn’t exist a safer haven. 

If you are fortunate enough to meet someone whose job is to make your life better than it already is and keep such a holy place immaculate, be prepared to generously drop a $5 bill off before you open that mahogany door on your way home.

Starter

Ok, I’ll admit, this one is tough. Through my experiences at hacking the ball and extensive research on overall course etiquette, tipping the starter has yielded mixed guidance. 

Typically, most starters are retired gentleman looking to get out of the house and stay close to the game. They regulate the pace of play by ensuring tee times are perfectly adhered to. 

Although their role is unequivocally vital to reducing players’ impatience and stress, don’t beat yourself up if you decide to save your last bit of cash for another time. 

Nevertheless, if you feel compelled to tip the starter at the golf course, even anything at all, such a gesture will go a long way and you should feel good about it.

It’s okay to softly pat yourself on the back but don’t get too carried away.

The Takeaway – How Much Should You Tip Your Golf Caddie?

By now, I hope you have a better understanding of the industry standards on tipping a caddie. 

Keep in mind that no matter how poorly you think you might’ve played, any day on the golf course is better than one spent elsewhere.

The caddie is there to facilitate this mentality, help make your day easier, and create a more than memorable round. 

Remember the rules we previously discussed and determine which tipping method is the most appropriate one for you:

  • Flat fee
  • Percentage
  • Price of green fee 

Although it’s your money and only you should dictate where it goes and to whom, golf is a game of class and etiquette.

Decreasing the lump in your back pocket by expanding the size of your caddie’s tip should always be something to consider as you walk off the 18th green!

Latest posts by Travis (see all)
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap