Electric Carts And Their Effect On Golf Caddying

Electric Carts in Golf have been the bane of enterprising Golf Caddies for many, many years.

Golf Course Owners and Operators first allowed Golf Carts or Golf Cars around the time of World War II in the United States.  By contrast, even now in the United Kingdom electric and gasoline-powered Golf Cars are still relatively scarce.

The emergence of Golf Cars has dealt a serious, but not quite fatal, blow to the activity of Golf Caddies in the United States.

The Golf Cart will never provide the good-natured laugh that a wise Caddy will provide after the many humor-inducing circumstances during a round of golf. A golf cart cannot express an opinion about whether the Player should hit a 7-iron or 8-iron. Many Country Club Players who habitually employ a Caddy in their Golf Round feel that they are helping a young person improve their ‘place in life’. These Country Club members like ‘helping out the kid’.  Many of these Private Country Club Players were often caddies when they were young. You see what I mean. To me, the ‘passing-on’ of this kindness is a big part of the ‘gentlemanly’ nature of golf.

Again, this sincere, heartfelt, pragmatic affection for caddies is the rarity today. The vast majority of Private Country Clubs want the cold, hard golf cart revenue. It has been very encouraging for me, though, to become familiar with the Country Clubs, and their members, that have the ‘higher-purpose’.

Many times I have thanked the ‘Old Pro’ at the Country Club for the great way in which the members there treat my son and the many other young Golf Caddies I know at that Club. One time, he finally looked at me, with some form of botheredness and said, “Joel, that’s just a part of what we are here at our Club.” He supported the Golf Caddy Evans Program throughout his many decades as the Head Pro. His young successor has taken up that mantle as well. Yet, I would tell you, those Pros are doing what their Country Club members want. The Members, The Pros, and the Administrators at this, and some other Country Clubs, have a deep and abiding affection for the rich tradition of Golf Caddies. This cannot be said of all Country Clubs…nor even of all members at each Club. Ask around about this very important, and personal, aspect of the Country Club or Resort where your children might apply for a Caddy Job.

This will help your son and/or daughter decide if a Golf Caddy job is a good activity for them.

Here are some questions to ask of the CaddieMaster of a prospective Country Club that they are considering for a Golf Caddy job. What is the ‘culture’ surrounding the Golf Caddy Program at your Country Club? What percentage of your Golfers take a Golf Cart, carry their own bag, or take a Caddy?  How often does a child get a Caddy Job when they show-up to work at your Club?

The Golf Course Owners originally allowed Golf Carts only as a concession.  In the late 1940s and early 1950s no one could have imagined how this ‘concession’ to physically disabled golfers would become such a monumental part of the golf world.  Golf grew in popularity by leaps and bounds after World War II, especially in the U.S.  Some people, though, who wanted to play could not play golf because of physical limitations, such as we would call a ‘disability’ today.  Maybe they had MS, or walked on crutches or were getting well up in years.  These golfers could swing a club, but their ability to walk the 5 miles of a typical golf course was severely limited by their physical condition.

The non-handicapped golfers who saw these disabled Players in their Golf Carts became envious.  They began asking for Golf Carts they could use, though they were perfectly healthy.

By about 1965 some shrewd Golf Course Owners and Operators began to realize an accidental aspect of improved Golf Cart usage at their Golf Courses.  They were making more money!

You see, a Golf Caddy has traditionally kept the money he gets paid.  The Golf Course Operators or Owners rarely took any kind of percentage from the Golf Caddy’s earnings.  In fact, I have never even heard of that.  When Players began using Golf Carts more often in the 60’s, this meant an increase in revenue for the Golf course itself.  Money that Golfers would have typically given to their Golf Caddy, now went to the Golf Course for the rental of one of their newfangled Golf Carts.  So, you see, the Golf Course began getting the ‘Caddy Fee’ instead of the Golf Caddy.  The decline of the Golf Caddy as a common part of the typical golf round and experience had begun.

I think it would now be good to mention to you that today, there are only 2 or 3 truly Public Golf Course in the United States that have a Golf Caddy Program.  When I say ‘truly public’, I mean a Golf Course that regularly has local public play.  Some Golf Resorts call themselves ‘Public’.  TPC Sawgrass, Bandon Dunes, Sea Island, Pebble Beach and other such high-end Golf Destinations have fantastic Caddy Programs.  These Golf Courses are not filled, though, with locals playing their weekly rounds.  They are golf vacation destinations, filled with Golfers from all around the world.

Therefore, except for these high-end Golf Resorts, the Private Country Clubs are where you will find all the Golf Caddies today.  The Golf Caddy has disappeared from the Public Golf Course in the U.S., as of about 1970.

So, it must be stated, that if a Private Country Club has a Golf Caddy Program, especially an Evans Scholar Program – they are doing so at a substantial sacrifice to the Golf Cart Revenue line-item in their Operational Budget.  These clubs have generally found that the members there enjoy the non-financial, personal benefits of a caddy.  In fact at most Private Country Clubs and high-end resorts, a caddy fee which the Player pays is often higher than the Golf Cart fee.

Indeed Electric Carts have meant the doom of the Golf Caddy in the United States at Public Golf Courses.  There remain fantastic Golf Caddy Programs, alongside Golf Carts, at certain Private Country Clubs and high-end Golf Resorts.

Feel free to ask me any questions you or your children have – about how Electric Carts have effected Caddy Programs – by using the ‘Reply Box’ below.


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