“Make friends with your caddie, and the game will make friends with you,” said Stephen Potter, author, and avid golfer. Your caddie is a wellspring of knowledge and comfort when on the course. They can also simply be a quiet supporter or spotter for the group. Depending on if you want to walk a loop with a friend or a stranger, they can offer many different types of advice and consultation. So why do most disc golfers not use a caddie in competitive rounds? Have you ever used a caddie? Let’s take a look at how caddies can help your game and how you can pick the right one suited to your tastes.
What’s A Caddie Good For Anyway?
A caddie just carries a bag and walks around aimlessly, right? While people in the know understand the value of a caddie, their image through the years (mainly as a result of traditional golf) has often been characterized by what is known as the “three ups;” show up, keep up, and shut up. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Caddies are an indispensable asset to a player. Think of them as an extension of a player in all areas of the game, including having PDGA rules that pertain to their conduct. I have had many caddies through the years, and they have always helped in various ways on the course. Most of them have been friends, family, or partners and know me on a personal level. This has an added bonus of knowing how to cool your emotions or pick you up when necessary. Let’s check out the ways in which caddies help in competitive rounds.
Bag Carrier– If for no other reason, this is a huge help. You literally gain more energy for your round because you do not have to carry your bag for the entire loop.
Emotional Support– BINGO. For me, this is the greatest asset of having a caddie. This person does not need to be a therapist to help you in a myriad of ways. Simply being able to express yourself honestly on the course is extremely comforting. Oftentimes you are on a card with strangers, and it may take time to settle in. Caddies are wonderful support both directly and indirectly to your emotional state.
Rangefinder– Ever find yourself wondering how far your next shot is? Ever imagine having your own personal rangefinder? Wonder no more when your caddy dials your shot in with a rangefinder and does the dirty work for you. Extremely useful for disc selection.
Disc Selection– This can come as a result of the distance dialed in by the rangefinder or via your caddie knowing your game and supplying you with a confident decision. Trust me; this helps massively. When someone else tells you that you can make this certain shot with this certain disc, confidence pervades.
Knowing The Course/Conditions– Caddies are a constant wealth of knowledge. Consult them before your round and ask them to check out the course and research the OB/hazards/weather/etc. They will then be able to supply you with invaluable details for each shot of your round. It can be rewarding to have a stranger caddie for you that knows the course extremely well. I recommend trying this out for out-of-town and destination tournaments.
Adverse Weather Rounds– This may be the most impactful time for a caddy, especially during rainy rounds. Caddies are able to carry an umbrella during the entire round and keep your discs dry. They are also able to towel off your discs and hand them to you as you are ready to throw.
Spotting– Spotting is helpful to the entire group. Not every competitive round has spotters across the course. Your caddie can be a huge benefit to the group by spotting holes where drives can disappear easily. This is also an advantage to the entire tournament as the pace of play will move quickly as your group can move along without looking for shots gone awry.
Friend– Sometimes, you find yourself on a card that does not interact, or you downright don’t enjoy playing with. This can be a drag when you may want to have a casual conversation or support each other. This is where having a caddie is a huge bonus to take aside and have a cordial conversation.
The Difference Between You And Touring Pros
Most touring pros do not have a caddie. The foundation of this fact is that professionals know their discs and courses extremely well. They are intimate with all aspects of their bags and have practiced every type of shot on the courses from week to week. Most of them simply do not want to bring another person into their mix. Understandable.
You, on the other hand, are not intimate with all of your discs and your tournament course. This is the main difference. Touring professionals have the knowledge and headspace for playing big events; you do not. But that is OK! This is why a caddie may be a great fit for you but not for the big names that you see on your screen.
Picking Your Caddie And How To Treat Them
Think about your competitive round that is upcoming. There are certain questions to ask yourself to see if a caddie would help you in this endeavor and, if so, which type. Do you know the course well? Do you know the lines and how your discs will fly on each hole? Now think about your personality type. Do you enjoy meeting new people? Would you rather have friends or family with you in stressful situations or a complete stranger? Do you have friends or family that know your playing style?
Put all of these answers into a stew and see what feels right for you. If you have never had a caddie, maybe it is time to try one out. However, if you are the type that tends to feel more pressure with someone close to you, then maybe finding a stranger to caddie for you would work best, or possibly leave the caddie at home. However, I urge you to take an honest look at your personality and playing style and see if a caddie may be of benefit.
If you so choose to have a caddie, first things first. Before your round, make sure you take your caddie aside and let them know how you are feeling. This will give them a starting point. Let them know what type of reinforcement works best for you. All of us players vary in the ways we receive criticism and support. Some of us need to be fired up and energized, while others need to be patted on the back. However, most of us need a blend of these types of support based on the situation. Also, turn the mirror and ask how your caddie is feeling. If this person is new to the competitive disc golf scene, chances are they have some butterflies flitting around. This is your chance to support your caddie!
Another kind gesture is to pack some extra snacks and water for your caddie. Remember, they are walking just as far as you and with a bag on their back. Make sure to create a free-flowing line of communication with your caddie, even if that means that you do not wish to talk. This will ensure you are both on the same page as your round takes its usual twists and turns.
Bringing It All Together
Most players throughout the ranks of disc golf do not use caddies. It is my experience that when I have used caddies, my mental space is more grounded, and as a direct result, I play better rounds. I understand this may not be the case for everyone, but I urge you to give it a shot. Think about all the contexts in which caddies can be a boon to your game, and make a wise decision as to whom you put on your bag. Enjoy the added energy from the reduced weight hanging from your back, and have fun out there. After all, you’ll have a friend along!