Junior Caddie Programs

To start, I have lots to say on new USGA rule on playing alone, but lots of people have already made lots of arguments for and against it. I am happy that Golf Canada did not institute this change in the handicapping system. For some good commentary on this topic, I recommend checking out this post on the 36 A Day blog 

The reason I missed the boat on getting a blog out was I have been on the road for work. When I fly I do one of two things, watch movies or read. I rarely work on flights. On this particular trip I was reading An American Caddie in St.Andrew’s.  The book itself is an interesting perspective of the St.Andrew’s, both the community and the golf course(s). But while reading the book my mind has been wandering more and more to the theme of Caddie Programs and specifically Junior Caddie Programs and what role they currently play in the golf system and what role they could play in the golf system.

I grew up playing in a time when the idea of a caddie for an average golfer on an average golf course had seen its day. I have never caddied, nor have I ever had a caddie outside of tournament play. Most people I know who have played a round with a caddie its normally at a place like St. Andrew’s or Cabot Links, where taking a caddie is potentially required (i.e. you need someone to route you around the course), or “part of the experience”.

I am much more interested in the notion of caddie programs at “average” courses, whether private or public, and also focusing on the role of the caddie program for the caddie, not necessarily for the golfer. The argument of caddie programs for the benefit of the golfer or the course are doomed to fail because they will always land on the notion of increased costs and thus driving people away from the game. But if the caddie program is viewed as the benefit to the caddie, there are much more substantive arguments as to why they may be good or “worth it” if you will. A case in point being the Evans Scholars Foundation, which encapsulates what I see could be the role of junior caddie programs in the golf system.

I am interested to hear your feedback on whether you see junior caddie programs as something that could ultimately help grow the game golf?Does your course/club have a caddie program?

See you at the turn,




7 Comments Add yours

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  2. Jack B. Erhart says:

    Maybe tying a caddy program into the established “First Tee” program already being instituted at many golf courses would be a way of kicking it off. Sure would be worth asking someone who is involved if that might work.

    1. aaronrbruce says:

      Great idea. I am not sure how established first tee is in Canada. Not at my course, so I may be a little naive to its presence in my area (Ottawa).

  3. Hi Aaron,

    First off, I’m on the same page as you and Mike regarding Golf Canada’s decision on the playing by yourself rule. They made the right call, and Mike sums it up nicely.

    Regarding the junior caddie program, I love the idea of it. As you mentioned, the big hurdle is cost. A lot of players don’t want to fork out the extra cost for a caddie unless they’re checking off a bucket list experience at places like Pebble, Bandon, Cabot, etc and it’s a one time splurge. If junior caddies and/or caddie programs can be fuelled by scholarships or sponsorships, I think there’s definitely potential for it. I think it’s a great way for a junior to get immersed in the game, learn, and meet like-minded people. My home course (which is private) doesn’t have a caddie program, but it used to back in the day (well before my time). We do sponsor juniors and give them playing privileges at no cost to the family. If there was interest, a sponsored caddie program would work too, however, I think most of the juniors we bring in would much rather be playing!


    1. aaronrbruce says:

      Thanks for feedbAck. I agree, juniors would much rather play than work (wouldn’t we all), but making them work for playing privileges could have its benefits.

  4. mrj803 says:

    Very provocative post, Aaron
    First, sincere thanks for the kind words and link to my post about the USGA handicap changes. Like you, caddying has been something I have little to no experience with. My only golf membership experience was at a municipal course in Hamilton, Ontario when I was 12. There was no caddy program. I played Cabot Links as part of a larger group. The one foursome hired a caddy and our group did not and I regret that decision. Lastly, I caddied for my stepson at his club championship last summer and welcomed the chance to engage in his experience and help him.

    I agree that caddying likely does more for the young person engaged in that role and when coordinated effectively can highly engage young people into the game. Often, from what I have read or seen, caddies will have limited access to play and can parlay their emerging interest in the game with a chance to play and improve.

    When I was 12 in Hamilton, I enjoyed playing more with seniors than the juniors there. I wasn’t very good at that time and found the seniors provided me support and mentorship on how to play and how to conduct myself on the course. I suspect I was able to draw from the benefits of a caddying program while being able to play alongside these retirees. Fond memories for sure. But to your point, I’ll be curious to follow this string to see if anyone has had experience with this or knows if it remains active.

    How was the book? Is it worth a read?

    Thanks again. If I’m traveling to Ottawa next year on business I’ll write to see if we can get a round in together. I like 5 am tee times. ;).

    Cheers, Mike.

    1. aaronrbruce says:

      Hey Mike,

      Book is ok. Worth read, but don’t expect anything life changing. 3 out 5 in my opinion.

      You still in Hamilton? I am from London area and visit fairly regularly, we’ll have to meet up for game sometime.


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