I chose this photo from the 2013 Women’s US Open because I feel that it sums up the player-caddy relationship. Out on the course when you are the caddy for a LPGA player, it’s just the two of you.
The player is my niece Rachel Rohanna, and I’m the caddy. At the time, Rachel was playing in her second US Open but her first as a pro. She had graduated from Ohio State earlier that year and playing on the Symetra Tour.
I also caddied for my father Dick Schwartz, in senior tour events in the early 90s, which included the senior PGA championship. That was my first experience on a big stage. The senior tour is composed of great players, too many to mention, but most of them had something in common, they got their start in golf by caddying. Here’s how to caddy for an LPGA or Symetra Tour pro golfer.
Your main objective is to make sure your player is confident and comfortable, knowing they have all the information needed to hit each shot well. It’s a shot they have probably hit a thousand times.
Remind them of that.
To build a good player-caddy relationship takes time. First of all, the women playing on the mini Tours are usually fresh out of college and most have not have the luxury of having a caddy. It’s an adjustment for them as well.
Professional golfers are all great players. They all have the shots. What separates them, is the ability to be consistent for the duration of the tournament. That’s where a good customized strategy, from the caddy is really important. From my experience, the best way to do that is to ask your player before each round, exactly what they expect from you that day. The last thing we want to do, is to get in our player’s way.
- While your player is warming up, notice how many clubs she has. She may have few extra at that time, just to see how they feel with them. So before you head over to the first tee, make sure that they have 14 clubs at the most.
- Your player knows how far they hit each club, but grab a pin sheet for yourself so you can reassure them, that they have the correct yardage. Where it becomes a little tricky is when it’s windy. Throwing some grass in the air is okay but it really only gives you a head high assessment. Look up! If you happen to be down south, the Spanish moss is usually a good indicator of which way the wind is blowing. Look at the tops of the trees and if you can find a big flag somewhere on the course or in the distance, that will also give you a good idea as to the prevailing winds.
- Make sure you know what ball and markings your player is using, along with the others in your group.
- Four eyes are better than two, so watch each and every shot until it stops. Pay attention to the other players shots as well. It helps to speed up play at times.
I’ve been very fortunate to have caddied on both the Symetra and the LPGA Tour and I don’t think the calibre of players is much different. So if you get a chance to go watch a Symetra Tour event, do yourself, and the girls out there a favor, and go. You won’t be disappointed. The players are a great bunch of girls that are working so hard to make it to the big stage. Your attendance will be greatly appreciated by the future stars of the LPGA. They are very approachable and love seeing a gallery, not to mention that having more people with them makes it harder to lose a ball.
If you would like to be on a bag, just get in touch with the Symetra Tour and ask to be on the volunteer caddie list. Who knows, you may become the caddie for a future number one player in the world.
Finally, remember that golf course etiquette is just as important for the caddie, as it is for the players. Always be aware of the other competitors on the course so that you don’t distract them. Make sure that you rake those bunkers properly, the groups behind you will appreciate it.
Richard Schwartz is Golf Pro/Superintendent at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Columbiana County, Ohio. He has enjoyed caddying on the Senior PGA Tour, LPGA, and Symetra Tours.
Follow Rich online on Twitter @RichJS712