PGA Tour players and other pro golfers are partners with their caddies. They win together, they fail together. Caddies rely on their pro golfers because how much pro golfers pay their caddies is based on how much the pro makes.
Pro golfers pay their caddies on an individual basis. As far as the PGA Tour is concerned, pro golfers and their caddies are considered independent contractors. The PGA Tour doesn't set standards or regulate what caddies can be paid. Pros are responsible for finding and hiring caddies, and the caddies are responsible for setting terms of those agreements, be they in writing or verbal.
A PGA Tour pro typically pays their caddie on what's become a standard pay scale.
How many PGA Tour pro golfers pay their caddies
- A base salary ($1,000-$2,000 per week on the PGA Tour to cover some travel expenses)
- 5 percent of earnings when the pro finishes outside the top 10
- 7 percent of earnings when the pro finishes in the top 10
- 10 percent of earnings when the pro wins
At a tournament where the purse is $6.4 million, the player would win $1,152,000 for the championship. The caddie would then get $115,200 for the week. However, if the player finished second and earned $691,200, the caddie would earn 7 percent and make $48,384.
Some top-tier players have different relationships with their players, with a higher minimum salary. However, if a caddie works with a player for 20-30 events per season, a caddie will earn a minimum of $20,000-$30,000 per season, and that's assuming a player makes zero cuts all year.
That will still leave most caddies at a loss because they incur way more expenses than the average employee. Caddies are expected to pay their own travel and accommodations most weeks. They have to pay for their health care, even if subsidized by the PGA Tour. They have to pay self-employment taxes.
However, no matter what, the caddies are also independent contractors that can be hired and fired pretty much at any time. It makes the professional very risky and uncertain.
Caddies have formed an organization called the Association of Professional Tour Caddies to help caddies earn more money from appearances and band together for group discounts on things like health insurance, as well working with the professional tours to improve caddies' working conditions, ranging from better access on tournament sites to improved food. However, the bottom line is the total pay each caddie earns has a lot more to do with how their player does than anything else.