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How Much Do Professional Caddies Make? (and Other Unique High-Paying Jobs)

2013 May 15
tags: , ,
by Aaron

pro caddies earningsThere are some unusual, high-paying jobs out there – and caddying can be one of them. If you are an avid viewer of golf on tv or have a passing interest in the game – you may be surprised at what some of the professional caddies can make. 

Just this past weekend, Tiger Woods won The Players Championship – considered by many to be the 5th “major”. The Players has one of the highest purses in the game – at $9,500,000, with $1,710,000 going to the champion. Not bad for 4 days of work!

Now, consider Tiger Woods caddy – Joe LaCava. LaCava has been around the block and caddied for some of the biggest names in golf, including, Fred Couples (for most of his career) and long-hitting Dustin Johnson. So far, Woods has made about $5.8 million this season. What do you think LaCava’s take of that is?

How much do you think Tiger's caddy has made?

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How caddies are paid

When college was out for the summer, I had the opportunity to caddy for a professional golfer. The city I lived in was host to an LPGA (Ladies Professional Golfers Association) event, so I put my name into the hat for some of the lady professionals who may need a caddy for the week (a few didn’t have steady caddies and others were letting theirs go). I happened to get lucky and scored a very talented professional for the week.

Most tournaments on the LPGA Tour are 3-days with a cut after the second round. This was no exception. We had two days of practice rounds – including a Pro-Am (where the pros are paired with amateur golfers – most of whom are from the companies who’ve sponsored the event) and then we were underway. While my pro made the cut – she ended up finishing toward the back of the pack. I believe I made $500 for the week (not bad for a college kid) and got a great education about the professional game and caddying.

So, what can professional, full-time caddies make? Based on some widely held beliefs – a pro caddy makes about $1,000-1,500 per week as a base salary (whether their player makes the cut or not). When their player makes the cut – the caddy’s income breaks down as follows:

  • 5% of winnings for a finish outside the top 10
  • 7% of winnings for a finish inside the top 10
  • 10-15% of winnings for first place

Now, back to Tiger’s caddy,  LaCava. Based on earnings of $5.8 million, LaCava has netted at least $500,000 on the year (and the season is at its half-way point).

UPDATE 6/11/2014
I thought it would be fun – using this same formula – to estimate what Bubba Watson‘s caddy, Ted Scott has made so far in 2014 (Watson is the leading money winner thus far in 2014).

  • 5% of winnings outside top 10: $6,140.64
  • 7% of winnings inside top 10: $156,965.67
  • 12% (estimate) of first place winnings: $339,120

Total of: $502,226.31 (after taxes, probably more like $300,000)

How do you become a professional caddy?

The life of a caddy is not as glamourous as it may seem. If he/she has close family – he will spend many weeks away from them, on the road traveling, and in hotels. They’ll also spend countless hours on the practice range with their player and walking/carrying heavy equipment around.

Still, if you love the game of golf, it can be a fun way to make a living. There aren’t many jobs out there and you can’t just go and fill out an application to be considered. According to the Professional Tour Caddies of America (which helps to promote the profession on the major professional tours), it’s best to make contacts on the “mini” Tours (Symetra Tour – also known as the Futures Tour – for the ladies; and the Tour – for the men). These lower-tiered Tours is where many bright, young hopefuls start out.

Some other unique, high-paying jobs

  • Crab-fisherman - You’ve probably seen the show, Deadliest Catch which depicts the real-life jobs of fisherman on the Bering Sea. While it is a high-risk profession and the pay is unstable, its conceivable you can make $50,000 in a short period.
  • Roughneck – Another “tough” job – you could also take home around $50k for a job on an oil drilling rig. Hey, you may even land a part in the next reality tv show.
  • Crime Scene Cleaner – While I wouldn’t wish this job on the worst of enemies, it probably falls in line with someone who has an interest in being a funeral director.
  • White House Calligrapher – Yes, the White House has a calligrapher. Well, actually two of them. The top writer (artist) makes $90k.
  • Dog Walker – According to the Business Pundit, some dog walkers make as much as $50 an hour in bigger cities. Not bad for a few hours of work.

Know of any other, unique, higher-paying professions out there?

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Helped start Three Thrifty Guys with his friends Charlie and Mark after being inspired by how they lived their lives “on the thrift”. A designer by day, Aaron was once $40k in debt. After 5 years – he dug himself out and lives to tell about it. Aaron also blogs at the StarTribune

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6 Responses
  1. May 15, 2013

    Wow that’s pretty awesome that he makes so much!

    • Aaron permalink*
      May 15, 2013

      @Michelle – yeah, pretty unreal. Of course, he is the exception, but a lot of ‘em can do pretty well.

  2. May 23, 2013

    Awesome post. I will link this post to my page that talks about roughneck jobs. I get tons of viewers who are looking for jobs like these.

  3. Dave O permalink
    May 28, 2013

    The last time I caddied my entire earnings were a turkey sandwich after the first nine. It was worth it though, as it was a fun day on the course. Hoping the guy will make it big-time and keep me when he gets his tour card.

    • Aaron permalink*
      May 30, 2013

      @Dave – youre lucky you got a turkey sandwich! ;)

  4. May 31, 2013

    I thought they just paid them an agreed upon amount of money. I assumed the amount of money was high but not based on a percentage of the golfers winnings. Why didn’t I take up golf as a child???

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