BEING a good caddie on the PGA Tour can be financially rewarding – just ask Steve Williams who caddied for Tiger Woods from 1999 to 2011.

Many tour bag toters earn hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and their bosses don’t mind paying them handsomely because it means they are finishing high up on leaderboards.

Of course, caddies who desire longevity in the game must be on the ball and professional at all times.

Caddies who demonstrate complacency will find themselves looking for another job.

One caddie who dropped the bag was Miles Byrne, who was on former Masters champion Ian Woosnam’s bag at the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

Byrne failed to count the Welsh player’s clubs and that cost his boss a two-stroke penalty.

Woosie let that error of judgment slide, but he did issue his caddie with a stern warning.

Two weeks later Byrne was sacked because he overslept and Woosnam missed his Sunday tee time at the Scandinavian Masters. 

“I gave him a chance. He had one warning. That was it,” Woosnam said at the time.

Aussie Robert Allenby, once dubbed a “caddie killer”, had more than his fair share of caddies in his time on the PGA Tour.

During the 2015 Canadian Open, Allenby’s caddie Mick Middlemo quit mid-round after a verbal confrontation over club selection – each blaming each other for Allenby coming up 10 metres short of the putting surface.

Middlemo left the scene and Allenby had a member of the gallery carry the bag for his last nine holes.

Someone, it might have been Ernie Els, said a caddie’s job is to “turn up, keep up and shut up”, but as everyone knows the occupation requires much more.

A caddie’s job is to carry his player’s bag, provide accurate distances, point out potential fairway hazards, keep a player’s club’s clean and their belongings organised.

Steve Williams arguably earned more money than any other caddie in the game.

So, what will a caddie earn for his trouble?

They will earn a base salary and a percentage of the winnings their player makes and that can mean taking home quite a bit of the folded stuff.

The rule of thumb is if a player wins a tournament, a caddie will receive 10 per cent of the player’s prizemoney.

For a top-10 finish, it’s seven per cent and then it’s down to five per cent.

And most caddies will have their travel expenses covered by the player.

Of course, a caddie must provide more than the normal daily tasks.

They must also support, encourage and make their players feel comfortable mentally.

Most successful professional golfers have no issues paying their caddies decent coin because they see the player/caddie relationship as a team effort.

For example, PGA Tour player Justin Thomas paid his caddie Jimmy Johnson more than half a million dollars last year despite many tournaments being cancelled due to Covid.

Of course, Tiger Woods’s long-time caddie Steve Williams earned more than any other bag man.

It was reported he took home more than $1 million in the 2006 season alone.

Here is a list of the top-earning caddies from 2020.

About David Newbery

Chief writer David Newbery has been living, breathing and writing and editing golf for more than 30 years. His extensive knowledge of the game comes from covering golf around the world. Hired by Inside Golf in 2009, David previously worked as the editor of The Golfer for 25 years and before that worked for numerous daily newspapers in Australia and overseas. The Brisbane-based journalist describes his golf game as “a work in progress”, but has had the privilege of playing golf with some of the game’s best players including nine-time major winner Gary Player. David enjoys travelling, reading, music, photography and spending time with family and friends – on and off the golf course.

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