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Jumpstarting your spring golf game

Jumpstarting your spring golf game


Being a caddie at the Masters is an entirely different experience than doing the job anywhere else — just ask Ken Martin.

“Caddies are treated really great at Augusta,” said Martin, who caddied for Scottish golfer Sandy Lyle at the major tournament last year. “We had our own locker room. They feed us just wonderful food — the best food I’ve ever had really. But it’s a long week. You have to be fit to get around that hilly course.”

Some of the biggest names in professional golf, including Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, will converge on the famously hilly course Thursday to compete in the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Golfers are playing for a multimillion dollar cash prize and the chance to don the coveted green jacket for a year.

Much of this year’s attention will be on the cash prize the winning golfer will receive at this year’s tournament. The purse for the 2023 Masters totaled $18 million, which was $3 million more than the purse the year before — the largest year-over-year increase in tournament history. Of that total, 2023 winner Jon Rahm took home $3.24 million.

But players aren’t the only ones in line for a big payout. The winner’s caddie can easily go home with a six-figure paycheck after four days of work. But snagging the four-day gig is the culmination of years spent working one-on-one with the same professional golfer, Martin said. 

Caddies develop a strong friendship with a golfer long before it’s time for an elite competition like the Masters, Martin said. Fans seated in the stands, as well those watching at home, can only see the caddie handing the player a club, but in reality, there’s a constant back-and-forth communication taking place between golfer and caddie during commercial breaks and while the two are walking to the next hole, he explained. Martin, who played professionally from 1982 to 2015, now teaches the sport at Keiser University in Florida. 

Pittsburgh golfer and caddie paired up and ready for first round of The Masters


Aside from carrying the heavy bag, the caddie also provides input on which club to use, as well as swing technique, Martin said. That’s because most caddies working PGA Tour games are former professional players with a wealth of knowledge on the game. 

But technique is only a small part of the exchange, he added. With a strong camaraderie forged over the years, it’s very likely the two spend most of time chatting like old friends, he said. 

“It’s boring to talk about only golf for four to six hours,” Martin said. “You’re out there for a long time together so the friendship part of it plays a larger role.” 

How much do caddies make at the Masters?

Caddies like Martin earn a salary from two sources during the Masters. One part is a weekly wage between $2,000 and $4,000 depending on the caddie’s experience, the Association of Professional Caddies and the Caddies Network told CBS MoneyWatch. The weekly wage helps caddies recoup financially because they’re required to pay their own travel to Georgia, along with hotel and food while working the tournament. 

Caddies also get a percentage of whatever their player earns after the tournament ends. The caddie of the Master’s winner will get 10% of the prize money. For context, Jon Rahm won the Masters’ last year and got $3.24 million. 

The caddie for the runner up at the Masters will get 7% of that player’s prize winnings; every caddie after that will get 5%. 

Caddies Network CEO John von Stade told CBS MoneyWatch there are rare occasions when a caddie has a private contract with the player, in which case that person’s salary will not follow the traditional setup. 

Over the past five years, caddie have seen some positive changes. PGA Tour officials have increased caddies’ weekly wages and players’ prize money has also climbed — potentially giving caddies a chance to bring home six figures after a tournament.

“But what hasn’t changed is, if your player doesn’t make the cut, there is no other source of money other than the weekly fee,” von Stade said. 

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