How to hire a caddy at Scottish golf courses
Check out our guide to Scottish Caddies; Which courses provide them and how much they cost!
In the fevered excitement of putting together an itinerary for a Scottish golf trip, you may overlook some of the more practical aspects. Playing five (or more) iconic championship links courses in under a week may sound absolutely fantastic – and it is – but have you considered the physical consequences of potentially carrying a bag over 90 holes? Whisky and painkillers can only do so much.
That’s why hiring a caddie or seeking out the availability of buggies is to be recommended, especially for those of a more senior disposition. An inexpensive alternative to both would be the use of trolleys that are available at the vast majority of courses – usually for a small fee, but if you want to ensure that a visit to the Home of Golf is as special as it can be, let’s take a look at those options.
Why Hire a Caddie?
All of the major courses have caddies available on site. Generally, caddies are independent contractors who take up residence at a particular venue – as is the case at the St. Andrews Links. Hiring them can make the experience of playing in Scotland even more fulfilling, as they are able to bring a wealth of knowledge and depth to any group that they are involved in.
It’s not just a case of having someone who can carry your bag and ensure that your clubs remain clean throughout the 18 holes, that’s a given, but caddies are also your key to potentially unlocking the secrets of the game’s most historic courses. They are able to point you in the right direction when there is no obvious line to take, spot hidden bunkers, or inform you of the subtleties of links golf and the potential effects of a strong wind on a particular shot.
11th hole at St Andrews
Do make the most of their experience, if you want the full benefit. One former playing partner mistakenly dismissed a caddie’s advice when playing his tee shot into a gale on the par-three 11th of the Old Course. Refusing to hit a three-wood on a hole that measures a mere 170 yards, his well-struck shot made up only about two thirds of that distance. The caddie was proven right!
Aside from giving you the (accurate) yardages, in addition to easing the load on your back and mind, caddies also have the potential to enhance the camaraderie of a round by sharing their stories and tales of life and former clients. With such diversity in terms of age and background, caddies often prove to be fascinating companions on the course, instilling colour and humour into your day.
The stereotype of a Scottish caddie looking dishevelled with a wrinkled face and indiscernible brogue is only partly correct. Though some of those old warriors do exist, most of the caddies these days are considerably more clean-cut and understandable. Such professionalism brings an added quality.
With visitors often returning to Scotland on a repeated basis, or sharing their experiences with friends, a number of caddies have become well-known in their own right, with travelling golfers seeking them out specifically. Oliver Horowitz is a fine example, having published his successful book An American Caddie in St. Andrews that charts his time in the Auld Grey Toon caddying on the links. Despite other opportunities at home, he remains a caddie during the summer months.
Plan in Advance
The solitary downside to hiring a caddie is undoubtedly the additional cost that it will accrue. If that’s not a concern for you, then it’s not an issue, but for visitors who are on a budget, it might be an idea to carry or push your own clubs for at least some rounds on the trip. Regardless, it is best to make a plan before you travel and factor in any caddying requirements.
To hire the services of a caddie, it is best advised to contact the caddie master or management at a particular course in advance of your visit, as they will then be able to guarantee a caddie for you. It is sometimes possible to arrive on the day of your round and arrange a looper, but that means having to rely on the chance that any of the caddies will be available at that time of day.
In addition to the set cost of hiring a caddie, golfers are also widely encouraged to show their appreciation with a tip at the conclusion of the round. The amount is completely at the discretion of the player, with £15 being an accepted starting point, and most will make an assessment based on the quality of the service. One or two regular caddies may also be welcome to a post-round pint!
*Correct on the date of publishing but rates may vary
If you want to start planning your Scottish trip today and give Golfbreaks a call today on 0808 196 4459.