How Much Caddies Actually Earn

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Voice over: Michael Robles
Written: Dan Kilbridge
Video and pictures: Getty

Kenny Harms has been a professional caddie for more than 25 years. He’s looped for more than 10 players on the PGA Tour, LPGA and PGA Tour Champions and was on the bag for Kevin Na at the 2018 British Open at Carnoustie.

It’s a full-time gig with travel requirements and few off days throughout the season. His salary when he started in 1991?

$350 per week.

Things have changed a bit since then.

“Lot of money to be made,” Harms said.

Nowadays, a select few caddies can make seven figures in a single season on the PGA Tour thanks to bonuses and a cut of the massive prize purses. They also can go weeks on end struggling to break even after expenses.

The amount of money paid caddies has become a major topic in golf due to the fallout over the $5,000 Matt Kuchar paid his caddie after winning the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico last year. That victory brought a $1.296 million winner’s check with it. Kuchar stands by the amount paid, while caddie David Giral “El Tucan” Ortiz, who was Kuchar’s local looper for the week, believes he should have been paid more.

One of the most FAQs in golf

The amount and manner in which caddies are compensated is one of the most frequently asked questions in golf. The answer is complicated, but there are some general guidelines most player-caddie relationships follow in some form.

By most accounts, the average weekly base pay for caddies on the PGA Tour runs in the neighborhood of $1,800-$2,000 per week. On the LPGA, it’s closer to $1,200. The majority of those funds go toward travel expenses, which are almost never covered outside of the weekly wage. Some of the top players will foot the bill for costly trips outside the U.S., say for the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, but that’s not always the case. If a particularly stingy player misses the cut overseas, chances are his caddie is losing money.

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“Going to China or Japan, or even Europe, it’s a big, expensive trip,” Matt Kuchar’s regular caddie, John Wood, told Golfweek last year. “Our salary is meant to take care of expenses, and if you’re going somewhere where expenses are going to be double or triple what they normally are, I think a player should step up and help him out. I’m sure it’s not like that for everyone, and it would be tough to travel like that.”

Breakdown of a caddie’s payday

At stateside Tour stops, most caddies are largely dependent on their player’s performance.

The average base percentage for post-tournament payouts is about the same on the LPGA and PGA Tour and has remained steady in recent decades, according to most. It goes like this:

Ten percent of the earnings for a win.
Seven percent for a top-10 finish.
Five percent for anything else inside the cut line.
If a player misses the cut, his caddie might hang on to a few bucks from the initial weekly payment. And they never know when or if the next significant payday is coming.

“That’s the risk we take with this job,” said Andy Sanders, Jimmy Walker’s long-time caddie. “If you work for a guy who’s not making any cuts and not making any money, you kind of drown yourself. … That caddie’s not making any money. He’s struggling. It happens. There’s tons of guys out here that are grinding that way.”

Caddies are also self-employed and pay for their own insurance out of pocket. Then there’s retirement funds, which are considered a luxury especially on the LPGA with prize purses a fraction of that on the men’s side.

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Some caddies make what an LPGA Tour winner makes

Michelle Simpson retired from professional golf in 2006 and has since caddied for the likes of Meredith Duncan and Brittany Lincicome. For her most recent win, at the Pure Silk Bahamas in January, Lincicome took home $210,000.

That’s a tough pill to swallow for some when they see the Players Championship winner haul in nearly $2 million.


In wake of Matt Kuchar flap, a look at the percentage of winnings for caddies in golf


Jay Jay Biggs says:

There are more perks available to caddies. I caddied on the Sr. Tour and received endorsements checks from companies when my player made prime time tv. Got an extra $380 a week plus an extra $1500 bonus if they were on the first page. It’s all about hustling as a caddie. Plus working pro ams with your player can get you an extra $300-500 for that day.

Arky2012 says:

Should be 10 percent of any winnings

Garry McArthur says:

I was a pro caddy of and on,for 25 years,and the most I made in one week was $35K for a 3rd place finish by my player. By ‘95 I had to declare personal bankruptcy.

Chuck Lucas says:

Most pro's have a full time caddy an they are paid well

ljw3491 says:

With the small purses on the lpga the caddies should get a base salary that covers expense at the minimum. Pga players are mostly millionaires already but hopefully not cheap like Kuchar.

Ann Geoghegan says:

Poor old jp!

Ronnie Farrell says:

You don't need an apostrophe in caddies.

MK Wedemeyer says:

do u hav sum kind agenda here?

D H says:

What a crap video. Nonsense


Jon Rham had a chance to win The Players championship this weekend. .
He went against his caddies advice. .
I wonder how that works out? ?

Pagan Posse says:

Wow, what a bunch of assholes, let the green flow dudes…

Daniel Arthur says:

Most pros are pretty reasonable. It’s also ok to be mad at Kuchar. This is a political conversation

punks not dead says:

Get it in writing

Dave Boyke says:

Shame on the PGA Pros, cheap Charlies. I say carry your own bag.

eric crittenden says:

Sounds to me like , with the exception of a small few, the caddy profession sux a big dick.

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