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Caddie Tips for the Beginner

by George Gabriel

Stock photo © RTimages
Stock photo © RTimages

Caddying for a golfer is not a lot of work, and could be quite enjoyable, especially if you hook up with a good golfer. Like the old saying goes. Watch and learn. There are 8 main job tasks that a caddie must do. We will try and take a look at them briefly.


Carrying golf clubs

This task could very well be the toughest of the eight, especially if the golf bag is heavy. Knowledge is not a factor here, but carrying them properly is. Try resting the golf bag on the small of your back, may be the most comfortable position. Adjust the strap of the bag to accomplish this position. When you carry a golfer’s clubs, you should hold the irons steady with your hand. Try to prevent them from clanging together by placing your wrist at the edge top of the bag and reaching over them with the palm of your hand.

Placing the golf bag down around greens, fairways, and tee boxes, should be done gently. Doing this routinely, will prevent noise of the clubs around golf greens, tee boxes, and other players. Do not drop clubs.


Washing players golf clubs

This is a fairly simple task, but you have to stay on top of it. Keep a wet towel with you at all times. You may want to keep half of it dry, if you want to carry it with you. Make sure the golfer’s clubs are clean and dry at all times. Do not hand your golfer a dirty club. Keep a tee in your pocket to clean the grooves of the clubface and wipe clean with the towel. Make sure golf clubs are dry and clean before every hole. When the golfer is finished with the club, clean them right away and place them in the golf bag gently. If you do not put them back in the bag right away, you may forget them on the ground, and find out later the golfer may need that particular club. When you happen to remember leaving one behind, mention it to your golfer immediately. He or She will give you instructions on what to do.


Washing players golf ball

Ask the golfer well in advance, if he or she would like their golf ball cleaned. Do not wait until the last minute before their shot. Have other golf balls clean and ready, just in case they decide to change golf balls. Do not pick up your golfer’s ball, when on the tee box, fairway, bunker, rough, and green to clean it. The ball must be cleaned before the tee shot, and after the ball is marked on the green. The golfer will know the playing rules. Let them give it to you to clean.


Replace golfer’s divot

Typically you will find divots on fairway shots. That is not always the case. Sometimes they will have to be replaced on tee boxes. Wait for all golfers to finish their shot, if they are behind you. When everyone starts to march out to his or her next shot, simply run out and pick up the turf and place back in divot hole, and pack down with your foot. Replace a couple of divots, if you have the time.


Repair ball marks on green

The golfer should do this task. The golfer may ask you to repair the ball mark, if he or she is lining up their putt. Simply prop up the grass around the hole with a tee and pack down with a flat surface, such as a putter or sole of foot.


Tending the flagstick

Wait for the golfer to ask you to either pull the pin, or tend it. Be nearby to keep play up to speed. Stay off of all golfers’ lines to the hole, and keep the flag from waving in the wind if holding the flagstick for the golfer. Also keep your shadow away from golfers’s line. Make sure the flagstick is pulled when the ball is rolling towards the hole. The golfer may occur a penalty stroke, if they hit the pin when putting. The golfer has the option to leave the flagstick in when off the green. Some golfers like it out. Wait for instructions when another player is off the green. Try to stand still when a golfer is putting. After all golfers are finished putting, replace the flagstick and check for golf clubs left behind.


Club selection advice

This particular task is for the experienced caddie, and/or caddie who has been with the same golfer for a while. Try to memorize the distance of your golfer’s shots and what club he or she used. They may ask you for advice on what club to use on any given hole. You may surprise them with your choice of clubs. Let’s hope it’s a good surprise. If you’re not sure, do not guess. Just remember. It’s only advice. When you’re not sure of the distance and club selection, encourage them on making the right decision.


Keep sight of golfer’s ball

When your golfer and other golfers are taking a golf shot, always watch where the ball lands. Always keep a marker, like a bush or particular size tree when it lands. This particular task is very important. Your responsibility is for the golfer you are caddying for. Try to look out for other players as well. This could be the single most important task. No golfer wants to lose a golf ball. When you can always find the golf ball, the golfer will almost always want you to caddie for them again.


About the author:
George Gabriel learned to play the game of golf as a caddie. You can find a tee time at

Golf Shots Terminology

(Golf terms, colloquialisms and slang for different shots)

Air shot:
A stroke that misses the ball entirely

Approach putt:
A long putt aimed at bringing the ball close to the hole rather than into it. May sometimes be strategically wiser, rather than missing the hole altogether.

Approach shot:
A shot made with the intention of placing the ball on the green. The term “approach” typically refers to a second or subsequent shot with a shorter-range iron depending on the distance required.

Banana ball:
A slang word designating an extreme slice.

Bank shot:
A shot played from close to a green with a steep bank confronting the player, in which the ball is played so as to pitch on the face of the bank and go over it, either running or on the bounce.

A short, moderately lofted approach shot with little backspin.

Come Backer:
A putt made after the initial putt goes past the hole.

Cut shot:
A shot which adds side and backspin onto the ball when striking it so that the ball tends to fade. Shots hit into a green like this tend to hold greens better because they not only have backspin, but also some sidespin.

A downhill shot or putt.

Draw shot:
When a player shapes a shot from outside to in in a curving motion, i.e. from right to left for a right-hand player (or left to right for a left-handed player). Opposite of a fade shot (see further). This occurs when the clubface is closed relative to the swingpath.

A drive is a long-distance shot played from the tee, intended to move the ball a great distance down the fairway towards the green.

Drop Shot:
A type of shot used to drive a ball out of tall grass around a green. The club is dropped down severely into the ball in an attempt to extract the ball from the tall grass and make it land upon the green. The ball usually comes out will little spin.

A miss hit shot in such a way that the ball travels only a very small portion of its intended distance.

Explosion shot:
A shot in which the ball is exploded from sand.

Fade shot:
A shot played with a controlled curving motion from left to right (for a right-handed player). This occurs when the clubface is open relative to the swingpath.

Fat shot:
A shot that occurs when the forward edge of the club head strikes the ground behind the ball, causing the shot to come up short of the target.

Flip shot:
A short, delicately hit approach shot of high trajectory played with a highly lofted iron.

Flop shot:
When a player opens the club face on a chip shot to get the ball to fly over an obstacle and stop quickly once it hits the ground.

A mishit

A mishit

A shot that flies very high.

A slang term for a hard-hit putt that holes out.

Half shot:
A shot made with a reduced swing, somewhat less full than a three-quarter shot.

A shot which moves severely from right to left (or left to right for a left-handed player). More skilled players can hook the ball at will by inducing topspin onto the ball causing it to move from outside to in on their swing, but most commonly a hook is a misplayed shot that often has negative consequences as a result.

Knock Down Shot:
A shot that is played intentionally to keep the trajectory lower than normal to “cheat” wind conditions. Usually made with a slightly shorter swing and often using a club with less than normal loft, which in turn causes the ball to spin less.

Lay-up shot:
A shot made from the fairway after the drive, but intended to travel a shorter distance than might normally be expected and/or with a higher degree of accuracy, due to intervening circumstances. Most often, a lay-up shot is made to avoid hitting the ball into a hazard placed in the fairway, or to position the ball in a more favorable position on the fairway for the next shot.

Lob Shot:
A shot where the ball flies to maximum height and minimal distance, normally used to hit the ball from close range when trying to avoid an obstacle.

Pin High:
An approach shot that leaves the ball within the distance of the length of the flag stick.

Pitch Shot:
To hit the ball at a medium height into the air and onto the green using a lofted club. Usually struck with sufficient backspin so that the ball stops quickly on the green.

Punch or knock-down shot:
A shot that is a very low-loft shot of varying distance. It is used to avoid hitting the ball into overhead obstructions, or when hitting into the wind.

Recovery Shot:
To bring the ball back into a favorable playing position from an unfavorable one such as a hazard.

When the club strikes the ball close to the joint between the shaft of the club and the club head, called the hosel, and thus flies at a sharp angle to the right of the intended direction (or to the left, for a left-handed player). It is often called a “lateral” describing the path of the shot. Shanking can become difficult to stop once started.

A shot which moves severely from left to right (or right to left for a left-handed player). More skilled players can slice the ball at will, but most commonly a slice is a misplayed shot that often has negative consequences as a result.

Thin shot:
A shot that occurs when the forward edge of the club head strikes the ball too high, causing the shot to come up short of the target.

A shot that occurs when the golfer swings and misses the ball.


Golfing Terms from 1500 to the present
Lexicon of Golf Terminology and Colloquialisms

Types of Golf Shots (Different Golf Shots)

Different types of golf shots are used depending on the spot from where the ball is being played. The opening shot is called the tee shot, while approach shots or feel shots, such as chip, pitch and flop shots, are played from outside the green into the green. The shots played on the green are called putts.

Photo: Steve Mcsweeny
Photo: Steve Mcsweeny


Each shot is usually played with its own specific type of club, although it is possible to play a range of different shots using only one club, modifying only the speed and direction of swing.

There are four major categories of clubs, known as woods, hybrids, irons, and putters and golfers are allowed to carry up to fourteen clubs during a round. More info: Types of golf clubs >>

Photo: Volker Kreinacke
Photo: Volker Kreinacke


A tee shot is the first shot played from a teeing ground. It can be made with a driver (i.e. a 1-wood) off a tee for long holes, or with an iron on shorter holes.

Ideally, tee shots on long holes have a rather shallow flight and long roll of the ball, while tee shots on short holes are flighted higher and are expected to stop quickly.

See also: Seven key golf swing stages >>

Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: the Modern Fundamentals of Golf  by Ben Hogan  More info>>
Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: the Modern Fundamentals of Golf
by Ben Hogan
More info>>

A fairway shot is similar to a drive when done with a fairway wood. However, a tee may not be used once the ball has been brought into play, therefore playing from the fairway may be more difficult depending on how the ball lies. If precision is more important than length (typically, when playing on narrow fairways or approaching a green), irons are usually played from the fairway. Irons or wedges are also often used when playing from the rough.

A bunker shot is played when the ball is in a bunker (sand trap). It resembles a pitch and is done with a wedge.

See also: How to get out of bunkers >>

On the green, putts are played along the ground.

Putting out of your Mind by Bob Rotella  More info>>
Putting out of your Mind
by Bob Rotella
More info>>

See also: Five key steps to improve your putting >>

An approach shot is played into the green from outside the green, usually over a intermediate or short distance. Types of approach shots are:

Pitch: a high approach shot that makes the ball fly high and roll very little, stopping more or less where it hits the ground. Pitches are usually done with a wedge.



Flop: an even higher approach shot that stops shortly after it hits the ground. It is used when a player must play over an obstacle to the green. This high lob is usually played with a sand wedge or a lob wedge.

Chip: a low approach shot where the ball makes a shallow flight and then rolls out on the green. Chips are done with a wedge or “short” (higher-numbered) iron.

These are the most common types of golf shots. For a complete list of golf shot terms, colloquialisms and slang to designate different golf shots, see Golf shots terminology >>

Now that you have an overview of the different types of shots, you may also want to investigate a bit further about the different scoring systems and how handicap systems are calculated.

We also recommend you go through the golf rules and golf etiquette pages, and of course, have a look at the safety tips on the golf course.

However, one of the most important things in performing these golf shots correctly is choosing the right equipment, tailored to your level. This may considerably help you in ‘masking’ your temporary shortcomings in the game. To help you make the right choice, we advice you first have a quick look at the articles explaining the different types of clubs. If you are new to the game of golf, make sure you also read this article explaining the basic set equipment for the novice golfer.


See also:

Three Great Reasons to take up Golf
Four Ways to take your Golf Practice to the course
A good Thinking Head makes a Better Golfer
Health Tips for Buying Golf Shoes

Types of Golf Competitions

(Golf Games, Scoring Systems, Types of Play)

The two basic forms of playing golf are Match play and Stroke play. Apart from these two basic types of play, many other golf tournament formats exist, some of which are regarded “official” forms of play, such as Stableford and the popular forms of team play known as, Foursome and Four ball games.

Stock photo © RTimages
Stock photo © RTimages


Other popular non-“official” forms of team play are Scramble (Texas scramble, Ambrose and Greensome.

Further types of golf games include: Patsome, Skins, String, Chapman and Flag tournaments.


Stroke play:
Strokeplay is the most common form of competition at most professional tournaments. In stroke play, every player (or team) competes all 18 holes and counts the total number of strokes and the party with the lower total nett score (gross score minus handicap) wins.

Players normally go out in threes or sometimes in twos, for example at professional events.


Match play:
In match play, two players (or two teams) play every hole as a separate contest against each other. The party with the lower score wins that hole, regardless of how many shots he won the hole by. If the scores of both players or teams are equal the hole is “halved” (drawn). The game is won by that party that wins more holes than the other. Matchplay is a very popular form of competition at club level.


A foursome (defined in Rule 29 of the “Rules of Golf”) is played between two players in partnership, playing one ball which they hit alternately. One player tees off on the odd numbered holes, the other on the even holes, regardless of who played the last putt on the first hole. The other shots are played in turns until the hole is finished. Penalty shots do not affect the order of play. Foursomes can be played under match play or stroke play rules.

Variations on foursome are Greensome, Canadian foursome and Mixed Foursome, in which two teams of a male and female golfer playing alternate shots. In Canadian foursome each player plays his/her own ball from the tee and the players then decide together which ball is in the best position and the other ball is taken out of play. For Greensome see further.


Four ball:
The same as foursomes but each player plays with his own ball and the better score of the team counts. Four-balls can be played as match play or stroke play. (Defined by rules 30 and 31). In a Three-Ball match, three players play against one another, each thus playing two distinct matches. A slightly different form is Best-Ball, in which one player plays against the better ball of two or the best ball of three players.


Form of strokeplay where the scoring is made by points awarded in relation to a fixed xcore at each hole as follows:

Hole Played In Points
<1 over fixed score —> 0
1 over fixed score —> 1
Fixed score —> 2
1 under fixed score —> 3
2 under fixed score —> 4
3 under fixed score —> 5
4 under fixed score —> 6

The winner is the player who scores the highest number of points.


Bogey and Par Competitions:
The scoring for bogey and par competitions is made as in match play. Any hole for which a player makes no return is regarded as a loss. The winner is the player who is most successful in the aggregate of holes.


Scramble (or Ambrose, Texas Scramble):
Each player in a team (of two, three or four players) tees off on each hole and the players decide which shot was best. Other players then picks up their ball and play their second shot from that position and the procedure is repeated until the hole is finished. The lifted balls must be placed within one scorecard’s width of the selected position. If on the green, the balls are to be placed within one putter head of the marker. This type of competition is popular with golf societies.


An Ambrose is the same as a Scramble, but in an Ambrose handicaps are used in the game, as in strokeplay. The net score is the total gross score minus the adjusted handicap. The adjusted or team handicap is calculated by dividing the total of all handicaps of a team by two times the number of players in a team, so 1/8 of the aggregate for a 4-person team, 1/6 of the aggregate for a 3-person team and 1/4 of the aggregate for a 2-person team.


Texas Scramble is a variation in which both individual play and team play are rewarded as a set number of drives of each member of the team must be used during the course of the round. If a beginner golfer is part of the team it may be wise to use their drives early in the round so as to take the pressure off them for the rest of the game.


Type of match play game in which each hole is worth a given amount of points or money, which you can win only by winning the hole outright. If the best score for the hole is achieved by more than one player the mony or points are carried over to the next hole, making all subsequent holes potentially worth considerably more. In the event that two or more golfers halve the final hole, a playoff begins until one golfer wins a hole outright.

There is an annual skins game for male professional golfers which takes place in November and December each year after the end of the official PGA Tour season. Only four golfers are invited to the tournament. It is recognised by the PGA TOUR but does not count towards the official money list. It is currently sponsored by Merrill Lynch and is officially known as the Merrill Lynch Skins Game.


Greensome :
A variation of Foursome where both teammates of each team make a tee shot and each team selects which one they prefer. The player whose ball was not selected, then plays the second shot and all future even-numbered shots on this hole, the other teammate playing all further odd-numbered shots.


The six first holes are played in Four-ball, the next six in Greensome and the last six in Foursome. The final count of strokes is calculated as in Foursome.


A variation of Four Ball where each player hits a tee shot and swap positions to hit the second ball (each player of the same team hit their teammate’s ball), whereafter they decide which of the two balls they choose to play for the remainder of the hole. The other ball is picked up. Once the best position is selected, the teammates alternate strokes until holing out. Also called “Pinehurst”.


Each player gets a length of string that they can use to improve bad lies. The length of the string depends on the player’s handicap (generally 50cm per handicap point).When in a bad lie the player cuts off the length of string equal to the distance they move the ball(without penalty) to any new position away from where the ball had previously come to rest. Once the ball is moved, that length of string is no longer available. Each player may use his string at any time during the round to save as many strokes as possible.


Flag tournaments:
Each player is given a small flag and is allocated a number of strokes equal to par plus 2/3 of his handicap. When the player runs out of strokes he plants his flag where the ball lands. The player who gets the furthest wins.