Forecaddie vs. Walking Caddie

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Walking caddies -- typically known simply as caddies -- and forecaddies are workers who assist golfers on the golf course in various ways.

While the term “caddie” has one accepted meaning in the world of golf, “forecaddie” may carry two different interpretations, depending on the situation in which a forecaddie is employed. In one case, a forecaddie performs a similar task to a caddie, while under a second scenario the jobs are very different, with only a slight overlap.

What are Caddies?

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The PGA Golf Glossary defines a caddie as “a person hired to carry clubs and provide other assistance.” That “other” assistance may include offering advice regarding the course, lie of a golf ball, the golfer’s choice of club, how to read a putt or general suggestions regarding how to play a shot during a round of golf.

At the professional level, a golf caddie may compile a detailed yardage book on each course he visits to help his professional golfer with club selection and select the correct strategy. Caddies at this level will also carry the bag down the fairway and are disallowed from using a golf cart.

A caddie typically works for one golfer at a time but is permitted to work for more than one player, pursuant to the U.S. Golf Association’s, or USGA’s, Rules of Golf.

Duties of a Forecaddie: Tournament Level

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Under the standard Rules of Golf, a forecaddie is an employee of the golf tournament committee and doesn’t work for any one player. The forecaddie’s job is “to indicate to players the position of balls during play.” This helps regulate pace of play and improve the golf experience as golfers don't have to search for lengths of time in a penalty area, water hazard, or out of bounds for their ball during a professional tournament. They also help to let golfers know when it is safe to take tee shots. In any tournament played according to the Rules of Golf, a forecaddie is an “outside agency,” meaning they’re forbidden to offer advice to any player. Most forecaddies communicate via hand signals to other golfers to avoid talking to them.

Forecaddie: Casual Level

Many golf clubs offer their patrons the option of employing a forecaddie who is, in effect, a caddie employed by a group of golfers. For example, the Redstone Golf Club in Texas -- home of the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open -- includes a caddie program for each group within the group’s greens fees, although the players are expected to tip the forecaddie for gratuity purposes. On rare occasions, courses have a separate caddie fee. While the players’ clubs are transported on motorized carts -- because a single forecaddie obviously can’t be expected to carry three or four golf bags at once -- the forecaddie provides most other standard walking caddie services.

Redstone’s forecaddies are expected to offer advice on the course’s hazards and features and help the players select the proper target lines. The forecaddies also care for the course -- raking bunkers and replacing divots when necessary -- tend the flagsticks, clean balls and clubs, and generally help players manage the course.

Physical Demands

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Even though a casual forecaddie doesn’t carry golf bags, it’s still a physically demanding job. The forecaddie is constantly on the move during a game of golf, hopping on and off the cart, and running from one player to the next to offer whatever service is necessary.