Recruiting New Caddies
February 21, 2023 | 1 min.
By Jack Mendesh
Just a generation ago, youth caddies flocked to caddie yards eager to find loops. They flock no more. With an increasing number of outside commitments, clubs with caddie programs are compelled to recruit at local schools and youth organizations in order to fill their caddie yard with kids who are willing to work and who may become potential candidates for the Evans Scholarship.
The COVID pandemic in 2020 hit caddie programs hard, cutting club participation in half, and caddie loops dropped 68 percent from the previous year. The MGA and Western Golf Association (WGA), in conjunction with the 22 caddie clubs in the state, are working to fill the pipeline with caddie candidates and create more demand for loops by club members.
“The supply and demand of caddies at a club-level are the two most important factors of a successful caddie program,” says John Hallberg, Minnesota Evans Scholar State Head.
Sustainable caddie programs require a steady supply of caddies who will remain committed throughout the summer. This has become a growing challenge with kids having more options other than caddieing. Clubs have found that as the season unfolds, more kids start to abandon their caddie programs. The MGA and WGA are reaching out to middle schools and high schools, as well as youth organizations, to recruit more kids who want to caddie.
Last year, outreach efforts involved an event with high school counselors and community groups to explain caddieing and the benefits of the Evans Scholarship. Similarly, new caddie programs at Elk River and Keller golf clubs successfully recruited caddies through youth hockey (Elk River), and several area high schools (Keller recruited from North High, Johnson High School and Hill-Murray).
The ideal caddie recruit is between middle school and high school, and at an age allowing them ample time to meet the requirements of the Evans Scholarship (a minimum of two seasons under their belt), and the opportunity to build a strong caddie record, achieve excellent academics, show financial need and demonstrate outstanding character traits.
In the post-COVID era, caddie loops have increased by more than 200 percent. First, member education has been instrumental by explaining to golfers the impact caddieing has not only on the caddies, but the club, membership and community.
Setting clear expectations with golfers on what to expect from a caddie takes away any unknowns, such as services provided by and cost of each caddie level.
Secondly, creating “Caddie Ambass-adors” at each caddie club has made a big impact. Caddie Ambassadors commit to take caddies as often as possible, spread the word amongst the membership of the caddie program, and make time to mentor the youth within the caddie program.
Third, the introduction of new technology has helped. Smartphones and apps now allow golfers and caddies to schedule loops easily and conveniently, a huge technological leap from just a generation ago. Loops are now scheduled a day before the round takes place, giving the golfer and caddies peace on mind.
If your club needs assistance with any aspect of a caddie program, please reach out to Jack Mendesh, firstname.lastname@example.org.