In a rare occurrence, PGA Tour player Erik van Rooyen’s caddie, Alex Gaugert, Monday qualified for the 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota. Shocked (but probably not terribly suprirsed) by the happening, van Rooyen took to Twitter to announce he may need a caddie for the week:
Needless to say, he got a few interested takers (including yours truly).
With all the money in professional golf, it is no wonder that many enthusiastic golfers would love to caddie for a tour pro. The life isn’t as easy as it may seem – with traveling almost weekly and (sometimes) staying in less than ideal accommodations.
So, how difficult is it to land a bag of a tour pro?
How to land a tour pro bag
Let’s take van Rooyen’s example in consideration for the challenge in finding a pro in need of a looper. After finding out he’d be without a caddie for the week, van Rooyen, a University of Minnesota graduate, eventually teamed up with a former college teammate to carry his bag. This is not surprising, given different connections van Rooyen may have in the area.
But, let’s say van Rooyen was in a less familiar place? And, let’s also consider that he had several (meaning, over 1,000) interested volunteers for the 3M Open. More than likely, van Rooyen’s agent (Mitchell of JMC Sport) would get to work on his behalf looking for a looper in the area or perhaps another player in the field who needed to withdraw from the tournament. It’s also likely the golf course would have someone on staff (or in their caddie program) who could fit the bill – if all else falls through.
I think what I hope to get across here is that most tour pros are not likely to take a chance on a person they do not know from the gallery or public to carry their bag for the week. There is too much at stake in terms of money and status on Tour.
This is not to say it doesn’t happen. But, it’s rare.
- Hang around a professional tournament on Monday-Wednesday. Let the head pro or tournament director know you will be on-site and interested in caddying for a player, should the chance become available. I’m not sure this is still the case on the LPGA Tour, but when I was growing up (in the late 90s), there was a dedicated tent for caddies to hang out for any opening that may happen that week. I was fortunate enough to score a bag every year I went to hang out at the tent (though it helped to know the head pro / caddie master).
- Connect with Monday qualifiers on social media. Most pro tours, including the PGA Tour, have Monday qualifiers where aspiring players (and pros without status) will play a one-day event to get the last spots into the field that week. Often these players will be younger, without caddies. Follow Monday Q Info on Twitter to discover players making it through each Monday Q’s.
- Hang out on starter tours. Players starting their careers on development tours like the Epson Tour (LPGA), and the Korn Ferry Tour (PGA Tour) are great avenues to connect with up-and-coming professionals. This is likely one of the best ways (besides personally having a connection with a tour pro), to get on the bag of a pro.
- Connect with player’s agents. Sometimes news breaks about a player being without a caddie (like in the case of van Rooyen), and it’s good to know who to connect with. Some of the most intimate people who manage a players “life on Tour” is their agent. On the PGA Tour, here is a list the Tour keeps of all the agents associated with current players (this list is from 2023). Send a professional note about your interest, any qualifications you may have, and resume that can help the agent and tour pro. Again, it’s rare the pro will connect with someone they aren’t familiar with, but it never hurts to try.
- Get to know a player. Many pro caddies are friends, acquaintances or have been recommended to them by other pros / agents. Again, there is a lot at stake in today’s game where a player isn’t likely to take a chance on someone they don’t know or who doesn’t have (at least) a history of caddying or playing at a high level.
I hope this helps – or at least gives you more insight about caddying on the professional tour. Please let me know if you have more information about caddying on tour – I’d love to hear about it!