Golfnutter: Managing caddies


To those new to golf in Thailand, and certain others, be assured much of your enjoyment will depend upon how you get on with your caddie.  Hopefully these tips make your golfing day, and theirs, that little bit better.  As is the case with all articles posted in this blog, it is assumed golfers have a basic understanding of scoring, club selection – knowing how far they hit the ball through the air – and the Rules.

Caddies – whether they can make or break your day is largely up to you.Caddies – whether they can make or break your day is largely up to you.

  • On emerging from the clubhouse and meeting up with your golf bag and caddie, greet her (or him) with, “Sawadee khrup,” or “Ka” if you’re female.  Also, inform her of your teeing order – group number.  This tells her which other caddies she will be sharing the day with, thus allowing her the chance to organise things better – they share food etc.
  • A happy caddie can have a profound influence on your day.  Showing respect is a good start.  Use “khrup” often and always.  It’s an easy word to say.  It means thank you, but in Thai it implies a lot more.  It says you are respectful and also gives your caddie some face amongst her peers.  Attach it on the end of a “yes” or “no” answer, or on to a request for a club, “Lek ha, khrup,” or “five iron, khrup.”  Doesn’t take much, but you will make her day far more enjoyable than those forced to suffer from the ignorance and disrespect shown by many Farang.  She will also be better company as a result.
  • When arriving at a drink stop, you can offer them a drink, but as they have access to liquid refreshment most would prefer the money instead.  Personally, I make a one-off offer at the first drink stop by giving 50 baht, saying, “up to you.”  This is not deducted from the tip paid at the end of the round.
  • Most Thais are modest and naturally shy.  Ever noticed a Thai appear to laugh or snigger when something unfortunate befalls an individual?  Maybe an incident where someone falls over and hurts themselves?  They are “laughing” because they are embarrassed for the victim.  They feel for the victim’s situation, and are empathising.  Remember this the next time something bad befalls you or your golf, and your caddie appears to laugh.
  • Distance: When asked for a distance involving a hazard, caddies will err on the side of caution, making your succeeding shot that much harder.  Beware, some will also factor in an allowance for wind when giving estimated yardage.
  • Important words caddies use: “Sai” means left. “Qua” – sounds like kwa – means right. “Khung” means up while “lohm” – sounds like loom – is down.  “Mak mak” means a great deal.  Beware when caddies say lohm or khung as they are most likely referring to something that has a huge impact on putting, something many Farang can’t see – grain.
  • Provisional ball: Caddies do not like to be the bearer of bad news.  If there is any chance your badly-directed golf ball has not gone OB or into a hazard, their optimism will show, or they may say, “Ha sip, ha sip” (fifty, fifty).  Add this to the language factor and you have the potential for frustration – as you trudge back to the tee.  If at all in doubt, hit a provisional ball.
  • Relief: Your caddie is keen to ensure you receive every advantage possible, irrespective of the Rules of Golf or your Local Rules, neither of which she/he will likely know much about.  Do not rely on their interpretation of what qualifies as relief.  Especially so when they say, “Free drop.”
  • Never do or say anything that could cause your caddie to lose face in front of her peers.  Nothing you could do would leave her feeling worse about herself, and you.  Remember, she is there to carry your bag and give advice.  Whether you take that advice on-board is entirely up to you.  The outcome is also your responsibility.  No caddie ever made a poor club selection or played a bad shot, only golfers can do that.
  • Caddie Rules infringement: Oftentimes during the course of a round, caddies infringe the Rules of Golf.  Actions such as touching the line of putt, replacing the ball in a different place, picking up a ball thinking the next putt was a “given”, taking advice from another caddie and numerous other Rules violations are commonplace.  Most thinking golf societies allow for this and have an appropriate local rule to cover such eventualities.  Remember, we are here playing golf for fun, not to win a Green Jacket.

Sometimes you will experience a caddie whose indifference suggests she would rather be elsewhere.  We all have our bad days.  Just let it be and get on with your golf knowing next time it will be different.  Know this; having a caddie you don’t get on with is really not that important.  Don’t be one of those self-important peacocks who, on not getting on with their caddie, demands the caddie master organise another.  Such action could cost that caddie her job, and with it her family’s livelihood.  Is your game of golf that important?  Are you good enough to get that angry?

Happy golfing,