This 2014 U.S. Open Caddie Is a Billionaire!

August 7, 2014

I have three favorite movies about golf and they are, in this order:  Caddyshack, The Legend of Bagger Vance and The Greatest Game Ever Played. If you haven’t seen any of these films, then I can only assume that, (1) you don’t have cable TV, (2) you are not really into golf, and (3) you have lost your sense of humor.

Each of these films has one main character who often overshadows the star(s), the story line and steals the show, as they say. On the surface a competitive golf match grabs your attention, but inside the story, a caddie is the real star.

In Caddyshack, caddie Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) caddies for Ty Web (Chevy Chase), but brings a new level of comedy to the movie when he caddies for Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight) in order to make money for college expenses.

In The Legend of Bagger Vance, the mysterious caddie Bagger Vance (Will Smith) helps Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon) overcome his inner demons and play Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen to a draw in a golf tournament that saves Adele Invergordon’s (Charlize Theron) family estate.

And finally, in The Greatest Game Ever Played, the pint-sized caddie, Eddie Lowery (Josh Flitter) is the reliable and steadying influence on amateur golfer Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) as he defeats Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the 1913 U.S. Open.

Probably by this time, you are wondering why my headline is about a billionaire caddy, but I started off with my three favorite golf movies. The answer is simple: Never underestimate the importance of a great caddie (the billionaire comes later).

Professional caddies can make or break a pro golfer’s chance at winning a big-money tournament. But what do they make for their services, beside just carrying a bag and handing out clubs?

To start with, think of a professional caddie as a personal psychiatrist who pays his own expenses, arrives at a tournament by himself and keeps an accurate yardage book from every spot on the course from where his employer may need to make a shot to the green.

He has to ensure a correct count of clubs in the bag, carry a towel, umbrella, tees, balls, extra glove, extra shoelaces, snacks, water; all the while handing  the correct club to his player while judging the wind and yardage.

The most important thing a great caddie will provide to his golfer is a calm assurance that after a bad shot he can recover and still make par on the hole.

So what does a high-end caddie make for all of the above duties? The PCA (Professional Caddies Association) estimates that a high-profile caddie will usually negotiate a base tournament weekly salary between $1000 to $1500 (25-30 PGA events per year suggests a $20,000 to $45,000 yearly base income).

Next, throw in a 5 percent bonus for caddying in a tournament, 7 percent if the golfer finishes in the top ten, and 10 percent if he wins the tournament. For example, if Martin Kaymer had won the 2014 U.S. Open, his caddie would have pocketed a tidy sum of $162, 000; more than any player finishing in 12th place or lower.

In his prime years, Tiger Woods gave (paid) his former caddie Steve Williams an estimated $1,000,000 a year, including a new Ford GT, after Woods won the Doral Open in 2005.

So if you ever give up golf and want to make big money, get your PCA card and caddie for a big-name golfer. And by the way, the billionaire caddy in the 2014 U.S. Open was the founder of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy, who caddied for his son Maverick. Yes, Maverick.

19th Hole trivia

• While the big name golfers sit in the plush clubhouse waiting to tee off, the PCA provides the caddies a 38-foot mobile home which follows the tour circuit. It has a kitchen, a TV with a satellite dish and cramped seating for eighteen caddies, all at once.

• The term “caddie” originates with Mary Queen of Scots in the year 1565. When she played golf, she was escorted and attended by cadets (sons of French noblemen) from France. The French pronunciation for cadet was “caddie.”

• Caddie Eddie Lowery’s picture is on a 25 cent commemorative U.S. postage stamp.

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