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caddy club golf

‘I prefer to be rubbish on my own’: Do club golfers ever need a caddie?

Staples of the professional game, we can also get the chance to benefit from a caddie on a visit to a top club. But is it worth it? The From the Clubhouse team debate

 

There is no ‘I’ in team. So sums up the modern relationship between the professional player and caddie.

It’s ‘we’ in the post-round press conferences. It’s a union, a bond, a shared experience through victory and defeat. Well, at least until the parting of the ways.

But it’s not just the world’s best who get to benefit from such expert advice. A trip to a prestige course – think St Andrews, North Berwick, and Muirfield among others – gives the recreational player (that’s you) a chance to enjoy that select experience.

Is it something we really need, though? Is it great to have the chance to tap into the ideas of an experienced looper, or would we better off toting our trolleys on our own?

On the From the Clubhouse podcast, after Joe LaCava’s antics at the Ryder Cup pushed the role of the caddie into the spotlight, Tom Irwin and Steve Carroll posed each other a question. If you had the chance to take a caddie, would you?

Here’s what they said about this caddy club golf issue…

Caddy club golf: Would you take a caddie if you had the chance?

golf caddie

‘I’m messed up enough without feeling like I have to perform for someone else too’

I wouldn’t but that’s entirely down to my personal foibles, writes Steve Carroll. I have benefited from a caddie at Royal Troon, at Kingsbarns, and a forecaddie at Sawgrass, to name just a trio of occasions, and they were all extremely nice people and genuinely helpful.

Their knowledge of the golf course they served was tremendous, but they just made me feel too self-conscious about my game. I’m messed up in the head enough when it comes to golf without feeling – rightly or wrongly – like I have to perform for someone else as well.

I just prefer to be rubbish on my own. It’s just how I feel and, if I have the choice, I’ll never take one. I’ll always just play by myself.

For me it’s just a very personal thing. I know caddies are hugely popular, particularly with an American audience, and people love the experience and love having that expert knowledge at their disposal.

But I’ve also had times where a caddie has advised me to hit a particular club and, because I genuinely know my yardages, I know it isn’t right.

In my head, I’m saying, ‘I don’t want to hit this. It’s not going to get there’ and it just adds a bit of doubt into my mind. I’d just prefer the only person to blame to be me.

For those who request a caddie, all power to them. If it adds something to their golf, great. I choose not to go down that path but I would never want to take that opportunity away from anyone.

‘Someone is physically carrying your stuff. It’s a really weird thing, isn’t it?’

You’re taking a caddie, who you’ve never met before and it’s a transactional relationship – so you’re paying for that service and are often expected to tip. People will say it’s incredible and they get lots of inside knowledge about the course, says Tom Irwin.

For me, it’s just hugely uncomfortable. Someone is physically carrying your stuff for you, which is a really weird thing, isn’t it?

If you get out of the golf environment, can you imagine hiring someone to carry your shopping bags around for you for three hours? It’s a particularly peculiar sort of thing that we think is acceptable.

There is the servant element to it, which is obviously deeply uncomfortable, and then in the environment we’re talking about – where a club golfer is using it – you are into some conversations where you’ve got a caddie trying to read your putt and trying to give you the correct line.

With the best will in the world, they have no real idea how you putt, what sort of pace you’re comfortable putting at, or whether you’re going to try and hole it or just try to lag it.

I often feel that you’re duty bound to hit it on the line you’ve been told – even though you might totally disagree with it. So it all becomes very confusing and I find it difficult, from a playing point of view, to know how to interact with a caddie.

Now have your say

What are your thoughts on this caddy club golf debate? Is a caddie an essential part of the experience of going to a prestigious club, or would you rather be left to your own devices? Let us know by leaving a comment on X.

You can hear more of Steve and Tom’s views on caddies by listen to this episode of the From the Clubhouse podcast.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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