The Caddie Dream Walk Begins


2007 Mercedes Benz Championship Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Tuesdays on GOLF CHANNEL.
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- So Im on an airplane flying to Maui for the first time and Im finding myself HATING on my fellow caddie brethren who are getting to walk the beauty of Kapalua which I am about to see for the first time.
I hate the fact that I never got a win as a caddie on the biggest stage in golf, the PGA TOUR. I did caddy a win on the Nationwide Tour, but it didnt get me a trip to Hawaii. The fire still burns in me and I love it and hate it. Dont get me wrong, I am really starting to enjoy this writing (and the responses) and doing play-by-play on XM 146 PGA TOUR Network (shameless plug) online for free.
I havent missed a cut in a year and have been in one of the final two groups more than Tiger in the past year BUT I see my friends, guys youll never hear about -- Miguel, Crispy, John, Timmy, etc. Guys who caddy for the likes of Charlie Hoffman, Mark Wilson, Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney, just to name a few, and I am SO jealous.
There are a bunch of caddies this week also making their first trip to Maui, but they are starting their year off with a guaranteed cut made and a NICE paycheck (check out what last place pays). And the be-all-end-all: this week a caddy will leave Maui with an extra $110,000! Thats right, boys and girls, first week back after the holidays and all the holiday bills about to start coming in and some lucky (enter your own expletive here) is gonna walk/fly out with 10 percent of the winner's purse of $1.1 million. And that doesnt count the weekly salary. Ive gotten so many questions about how much a caddie makes Im gonna break down the basics for yall.
First and foremost, caddies are INDEPENDENT contractors. The PGA TOUR does not pay them. They are paid by the players directly. ANY caddie can be fired at ANY time for ANY reason. Yes, Tiger could fire Steve tomorrow and Steve wouldnt be running to a lawyer with a contract screaming BREACH! Caddies dont have contracts; its one of the things that makes our business a volatile one. A lot of good caddies have been fired for reasons as ridiculous as a player's wife didnt like him. But its the life, and caddies accept it because we love the competition as much as the players do.
Now to answer your money questions, I wont be specific about who makes what 'cause its between a player and a caddie. And frankly, do you want everybody checking out your paycheck? But youll be able to figure out the basics.
A caddy gets a weekly salary. This is because 95% of caddies have to pay all their own expenses: airfare, hotel, and even food (the caddy trailer's not free). So if a player misses the cut, a caddie still has to pay the bills and they dont get a check from Titleist for carrying the driver. Now the average weekly pay ranges between $1,000 and $3,000 a week. I do know of one player who doesnt pay a weekly salary and only pays a percentage so if he misses the cut UGH!
Now the percentage works like this: 10 percent for a win, 8 percent for a top-10, and 6 percent for a made cut. Some guys will take a bigger weekly salary for a smaller percentage, some will take a smaller salary for 10 percent across the board, either way, the better your man plays the better YOUR paycheck is. But this week there is NO CUT! So everybody is getting PAAAAAAIIIIID -- and just like you, I am so jealous.
But unlike you and unlike when I caddied, I am writing this sitting in First Class, enjoying Seared Pork Loin on real china with metal utensils. Life on this side of the ropes isnt THAT bad. OOOHHH, my merlot is here!
Any suggestions on places to go or things to do in Maui? Be nice!
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