Help for Caddies — Be a Parent First

Help for Caddies! The true motivation for me to start this blog is to help caddies out there. Caddying for a child golfer can be challenging for a lot of parents. In my experience, kids need a caddy in tournaments until they are about 9 years old. Some kids can golf in tournaments on their own a bit earlier, and some a bit later. However, this is just one more job for Daddy Caddy; to figure out when to set cut them loose.

In providing help for caddies, the first thing I would say is, you’re not alone. More often than not, parent caddies struggle with their job. It’s amazing how an activity you would first think should be leisurely and easy can be such a source of stress, at least at the beginning. Don’t worry though, after three or four tournaments, you’ll find your system and hopefully your perspective, and caddying for your child golfer will get easier in some aspects.

I suggested elsewhere that caddying for a child golfer is much harder than caddying for a pro. I am sure this is true. A pro is a pro. They have figured out their own psychology for the game, they are grown up, and well, they are professional and are responsible for holding themselves together.

Caddying for a child golfer, well, we call it caddying but you have to do a whole lot more than caddy. Now I say “have to do” but of course that’s up to you. There are many hats you can wear on the golf course with your golfer. The caddy hat is the one that helps the golfer with the managing their equipment, finding distance, club selection, the rules, and pace of play. That alone is a lot for an unsuspecting parent to manage. If you have a golf background you’re ahead of the game, but like many golfing parents who don’t have a golf background, there is a lot to learn.

I tried to split up the numerous topics into different pages, so I hope you can learn and share about equipment on the Equipment Page and about tournaments on the Tournaments Page or Tournament Play on that page for example. The Caddying page is to help with “other stuff” you have to do when caddying.

In addition to the the caddy hat, you have to be a coach. So on top of managing all the “technical” aspects of the game, you have to keep your young athlete in the right head. Now that alone is yet another job in and of itself!

Coaching kids golf is interesting as it’s a one to one, and it’s your child. Any coach will tell you there is new dimension added to coaching when it’s your child athlete that you are coaching. Remember, a coach is a teacher and a cheerleader too. I think the thing that daddy caddies struggle with most is managing their own mental state as overlaid with the mental state of their child. The same instruction from a non-parent coach will be well-received, but from a parent … no way. You’ll see this a lot and it’s hard on the dad.

When you caddy, be aware of the fact that your eight year old may not be receptive to your  comments at all on the course, sometimes. Other times they will ask for them. It all depends also on what type of kid she is. Some kids are “wonderful” and always listen to dad and want their input and are rarely stubborn and independent. Other kids will blame daddy caddy for anything that goes wrong from alignment to club selection to “making them mad.”

So in one instance, say a bad shot, the daddy caddy has to deal with, their child’s frustration, their child’s disappointment, their child’s anger at them, their own frustration with the shot, their own anger at the child for being angry at them for no reason, their own disappointment with the bad shot, their own frustration that their child is blaming them, and then coaching their child golfer to get passed the bad shot and into a good head for the next one, and not telling them what to do even for the next shot as that may get them more mad at you … PHEEEW! It can be very challenging. Believe me, I am not making this up … fellow daddy caddies, can I hear an AMEN?!

I will tell you there is evidence that most daddy caddies experience this and this is the norm. I have seen the rare parent-child golf team that seems to have it all together, only to catch them in a moment of truth … a ha, they are normal too.

What I learned from this experience after tens of tournaments is … the most important hat you wear out there is the hat of a parent. I was absolutely guilty of getting caught up and reacting poorly and losing perspective. The truth is, unless you are a victory maniac, none of it matters … at all … except for your guidance as a parent. If you wear your parent hat always on top of all the other hats, you will find a much better time at caddying for your kid golfer. In any, every situation, when your feeling frustration, anger, disappointment, even happiness, let your responsibility as a parent guide what you do.

To the newbie moms and dads take comfort in your role as a parent and if you hold that as your guidance, the rest becomes much easier. Be sure to make all decisions, instructions, reactions, and actions from being a parent and you’ll see how well things will go. Always remember the lessons you want your child golfer to learn and the rest will fall into place. How to handle frustration, a rules infraction, success, disappointment, priorities, all have ample opportunity to be taught as a parent first in golf. Truthfully, nothing else is even close.

More help for caddies in other posts on the Caddying Page. Please read, enjoy, and share!
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