At present, there are approximately 3,500 caddie programmes operating worldwide, facilitating approximately 38 million caddie rounds each year.
The Asian continent takes the lead with the highest concentration of caddie programmes, where many clubs embrace the tradition of mandatory female caddies. Following closely behind is the United States, boasting an estimated 750 well-established caddie programmes that conduct an impressive 9 million rounds annually. Meanwhile, in the UK and Ireland, we find 94 caddie programmes primarily serving the influx of North American tourists, particularly on our stunning links golf courses. There are pockets in the UK where caddie programmes are particularly popular, being St.Andrews, the surrounding regions of Edinburgh, Dublin and the West coast of England. Furthermore, the realm of caddie programmes also extends its reach to regions such as South Africa and Australasia.
Within these diverse regions, cultural differences shape the unique approaches adopted by caddie programmes. In the United States, caddie programmes predominantly cater to club members, providing personalised services tailored to their preferences. The advancements in technology have facilitated systems capable of accommodating these member-specific demands. The exceptions to this being large resort venues such as Bandon Dunes and Pebble Beach, where visitors can also hire caddies. On the other side of the Atlantic, caddies in the UK typically serve the needs of North American visitors, while in Asia, caddie programmes often exhibit a cultural nuance, with female caddies residing on-site, exemplified by the Sheshan International in Shanghai. However, despite its rich heritage, the caddying industry faces formidable competition from the growth in popularity of the golf cart due to its revenue generating potential. Despite this, thousands of clubs across the world continue to run caddie programmes.
A Changing Industry
The past five years have witnessed a considerable transformation within the caddie programme landscape. Today, I’ve observed that the majority of caddie programmes are adopting a time- efficient approach, assigning specific arrival times to caddies. This shift seems to be a response to the time-conscious nature of the younger generation, including the emergence of a new breed of college students who value efficiency. As result, top clubs have embraced technology and software solutions to streamline their scheduling processes—a topic we shall explore in greater detail later. Furthermore, every facet of caddie programmes has undergone a process of professionalisation, leading to elevated standards and a more refined approach to serving golfers.