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How many strokes per round would a great caddy save an amateur?


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Much is made of the mechanical side of golf. Look around this board if you don't believe me. We have open threads about takeaways, posture, grip, wrist position, etc. When you attempt to "learn how to play golf", many simply associate that with learning how to swing a golf club.

 

But as WRXers, and "not the average golfers", we understand that the mental game is as big, or bigger, than the mechanical side.

 

We have a lot of golfers on this forum that are single digit handicaps. Good players by all accounts for certain. Golfers that have played with many different golfers in their lives, some better and some worse, and have seen how important knowing how to play a golf course (vs. how to swing a golf club) can be.

 

 

 

 

So I pose the question. Feel free to address it however you'd like, but it's a simple question. How many strokes on a given round of golf would an excellent caddy save an amateur? It's purposely vague, so justify your response accordingly.

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Crater, good question, suspect you will get a variety of responses.

Will only address from my own point of view, where I believe the most value accrues by having a caddie on a hard running course you haven't seen, ie what we are seeing at Chambers Bay. If the course is soft, dial your own laser in and hit it.

I have just returned from a couple of weeks in Scotland, I used a caddie at Muirfield and TOC. The big difference was playing the Old Course one day using a caddie with 30 years experience and then not the next day at the New.

After a couple of holes at TOC, I simply hit what the caddie gave me in the general direction he told me however I believe most of the strokes I saved were around the green. It is such a confidence boost to know line and speed.

Being a senior these days and a known "fader" after 14 holes, it's also good to have someone to lug your gear. As opposed to my normal finish, I went 1 under the last 4 at TOC.

As a mid singles player, I estimate my answer to your question is 3-4 at max and then if conditions aren't as described, less.

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[quote name='pinhigh27' timestamp='1434917034' post='11801634']
a couple at most unless its a gimmick course that the am has never played before. ams don't stroke it consistently enough where good reads are going to magically make them 5 more putts a round
[/quote]

This. They don't stroke it or strike it consistent enough. Maybe a couple strokes, but I would guess not significant.

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I would say I save 4-6 strokes on course you don't know and 1-4 on a course you do.

I used a great caddie on my last trip Scottland and my first round on the old course. I hsot under my cap every round with him - it made a huge difference.

At my home course I have played it thousands of times so I know the course inside and out and caddie would just save me a few strokes here and there by forcing me to think through my shots a bit better or verify a read.

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I reckon a couple of shots. I dropped 2 shots in my round today from 2 stupid course management decisions. In hindsight I'm sure a caddy or me talking to myself through it properly would've avoided it

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You need to define 'ams'. There's plenty of plus handicaps that don't play golf for a living but can still play. Having someone carry your bag, give you several yardages, lines, and reads and just maybe a second opinion or perspective would be worth several strokes for low singles and beyond.

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[color=#800080]I have no ideas how i would rank as a caddie as i just offer advice while playing, but i have saved women over 10 strokes on just nine holes by helping them view the course differently. I think a solid caddie coulds save some a lot of shots , no matter how good they hit it. If i observe over half of their hits are not great i will roll the dice ands over club them. Some i tell to play the back yardage of the green as the front or middle.[/color]

[color=#800080]I woulds guess too many overestimate their ability to be a a self caddie.[/color]

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The last tournament that I won which was a 2 day tournament at Streamsong was won because of my caddie. If I was ever good enough to play on tour (which I'm not), hiring him would be my first move. It went well beyond just giving me good info. He was such a calming influence and there were so many times that he convinced me to hit or not hit a certain club. His ability to immediately pick up on what I was doing ball flight wise and how to make it fit the course was amazing. I would say that he saved me at least 10 strokes over the 2 rounds and when I found out I won, the first thing I did was walk up to him and thank him for winning it for me. He was a awesome.

On the flip side, I've had some really bad caddies... my wife included. She's like a riverboat gambler out there convincing me to go for shots I have no business hitting. She would probably cost me 10 strokes.

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[quote name='TB07' timestamp='1434918105' post='11801746']
[quote name='pinhigh27' timestamp='1434917034' post='11801634']
a couple at most unless its a gimmick course that the am has never played before. ams don't stroke it consistently enough where good reads are going to magically make them 5 more putts a round
[/quote]

This. They don't stroke it or strike it consistent enough. Maybe a couple strokes, but I would guess not significant.
[/quote]

On the other end of the spectrum, imagine caddying for a newer high-handicap player. ....topped shot off the tee; ball now sitting in rough 270 from the hole. "Sir, put the 3 wood down. That's not the play here." Maybe I'm thinking more along the lines of playing lessons...

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[quote name='crater_divots' timestamp='1434914563' post='11801424']
So I pose the question. Feel free to address it however you'd like, but it's a simple question. How many strokes on a given round of golf would an excellent caddy save an amateur? It's purposely vague, so justify your response accordingly.
[/quote]

4 years ago, a guy on my golf league came to me and asked if I could give him a "playing lesson". I'm no instructor, but my course management and short game are certainly my strong suits, and I can read putts. So I said sure. I told him that I wasn't going to give him any swing advice, but we will talk about what strategy he should employ and club selection, and for chips, how to hit the shot (I did give him some chipping instruction that same year as well, so we were on the same page with that).

I just pulled up his league average for that front 9 that we played, and in 2011 it was 52.25. He had a total of 8 pars in 8 rounds in the league, and 23 "others" (triple or worse). His best round was 48.

I asked him if he would be happy shooting 44 (par 35), or a bogey per hole. He said of course! So I said in that case, don't put so much pressure on yourself in trying to hit the green in regulation, and that if he hit every green in 1 over regulation, and 2 putted everything, he would shoot bogey golf. He had never thought of it that way. I said you'll probably have a bad hole here or there, but you'll probably make a putt or two to cancel that out.

He shot 43 that day, with 3 three putts, and with a triple on the 9th hole which is a 180 yard par 3. I remember him duffing the tee ball, then blasting a wedge over the green, chip on, and 3 putts. His pace on lag putts wasn't that great back then either. His main problem was being far too aggressive on many shots, and he was terrible at alignment (aligned everything 10 degrees right!) and still hit a cut/slice.

Looking through all of his league scores since 7 years ago when he started in our league, his best score is 41, and next best 44.

I remember him looking at me crazy when deciding some of the strategy, such as laying up on the difficult par 3 3rd. There's a pretty generous landing area 20 yards short of the green, but then tightens up drastically at the green. He said he ALWAYS makes 5 or worse here because he can never hit the green and always hits it in the junk which is on either side of the hole.

He hit a tee shot about 20 yards short of the green, made a decent chip to about 10 feet, and sunk the putt.

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[quote name='Tax Man Golfeth' timestamp='1434981400' post='11808896']
[quote name='TB07' timestamp='1434918105' post='11801746']
[quote name='pinhigh27' timestamp='1434917034' post='11801634']
a couple at most unless its a gimmick course that the am has never played before. ams don't stroke it consistently enough where good reads are going to magically make them 5 more putts a round
[/quote]

This. They don't stroke it or strike it consistent enough. Maybe a couple strokes, but I would guess not significant.
[/quote]

On the other end of the spectrum, imagine caddying for a newer high-handicap player. ....topped shot off the tee; ball now sitting in rough 270 from the hole. "Sir, put the 3 wood down. That's not the play here." Maybe I'm thinking more along the lines of playing lessons...
[/quote]

30 handicap takes caddys advice, takes out a mid/short iron to lay up, and proceeds to shank it farther into the rough.

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[quote name='TB07' timestamp='1434995581' post='11811178']
[quote name='Tax Man Golfeth' timestamp='1434981400' post='11808896']
[quote name='TB07' timestamp='1434918105' post='11801746']
[quote name='pinhigh27' timestamp='1434917034' post='11801634']
a couple at most unless its a gimmick course that the am has never played before. ams don't stroke it consistently enough where good reads are going to magically make them 5 more putts a round
[/quote]

This. They don't stroke it or strike it consistent enough. Maybe a couple strokes, but I would guess not significant.
[/quote]

On the other end of the spectrum, imagine caddying for a newer high-handicap player. ....topped shot off the tee; ball now sitting in rough 270 from the hole. "Sir, put the 3 wood down. That's not the play here." Maybe I'm thinking more along the lines of playing lessons...
[/quote]

30 handicap takes caddys advice, takes out a mid/short iron to lay up, and proceeds to shank it farther into the rough.
[/quote]

Touche. :)

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Not much at all imo.Mid to high cappers are so erratic in their ballstriking that a world class caddy's reads,numbers and advice would be the same as sitting in a broken car with someone that has a map.The directions are perfect and the map is accurate,but the car only starts up and does not move.The car needs to be fixed first so that it can go where the navigator tells it to.

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I think for a player whose handicap is 5 or less, a great caddy could help shave a few shots of their game especially if said caddy is a good green reader. They could also prevent their player from making a stupid mistake or such.

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I can't put a number on it but I think a good caddie will save you a few shots, especially on a course/situation you are not used to. I normally play with a Caddie when I am down in South Africa. You can get pretty bad ones that just carry your club but you can also get really experienced ones.
I was playing Humewood, a Links course and the wind was blowing. I pulled an 8 iron out of my bag for an approach shot into the wind. The caddie told me to hit a 4 iron. I told him I would hit that club into the clubhouse but went with his decision. I flushed the 4 iron and barely made the front of the green.

Another area where a caddie can help is in finding shots that went into the rough. They are pretty good at that and the difference between finding one and not is already 2 shots!

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5-10+ easy. I save most Ams 3-5 with just a few casual comments a round. Of course it depends on their skill level exactly how many but the funny thing is that those that think it would help the least, it would probably actually help the most. :-) Classic insight to their psychology and acceptance of change.

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My definition of an 'excellent caddie' - one that has three extra sleeves of my balls tucked under his bib, and a hole in his pocket.

In this case, said caddie would save me about 8 strokes per round most of the time.

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I think a good caddy would save between 2-6 strokes.
I would also say that a good caddy would be a lot of help on your own course as well because we all tend to get complacent on our own courses and go for it a bit much where if we came up against a similar hole on a new course we may play it more strategically.

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[quote name='ParHunter' timestamp='1435058107' post='11817070']
I can't put a number on it but I think a good caddie will save you a few shots, especially on a course/situation you are not used to. I normally play with a Caddie when I am down in South Africa. You can get pretty bad ones that just carry your club but you can also get really experienced ones.
I was playing Humewood, a Links course and the wind was blowing. I pulled an 8 iron out of my bag for an approach shot into the wind. The caddie told me to hit a 4 iron. I told him I would hit that club into the clubhouse but went with his decision. I flushed the 4 iron and barely made the front of the green.

Another area where a caddie can help is in finding shots that went into the rough. They are pretty good at that and the difference between finding one and not is already 2 shots!
[/quote]that just shows you don't have very good course management. it's not like the caddie wanted you to hit 7 instead of 8, they wanted you to try to hit it 40+ yards farther than you wanted to. that's not really reflective of the success of the caddy, it's more reflecting on your own inability to play in wind. I mean, you would have been like 50 yards short then if you had hit 8 iron...... how often does someone misclub by 50 yards

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[quote name='pinhigh27' timestamp='1435062782' post='11817412']
[quote name='ParHunter' timestamp='1435058107' post='11817070']
I can't put a number on it but I think a good caddie will save you a few shots, especially on a course/situation you are not used to. I normally play with a Caddie when I am down in South Africa. You can get pretty bad ones that just carry your club but you can also get really experienced ones.
I was playing Humewood, a Links course and the wind was blowing. I pulled an 8 iron out of my bag for an approach shot into the wind. The caddie told me to hit a 4 iron. I told him I would hit that club into the clubhouse but went with his decision. I flushed the 4 iron and barely made the front of the green.

Another area where a caddie can help is in finding shots that went into the rough. They are pretty good at that and the difference between finding one and not is already 2 shots!
[/quote]that just shows you don't have very good course management. it's not like the caddie wanted you to hit 7 instead of 8, they wanted you to try to hit it 40+ yards farther than you wanted to. that's not really reflective of the success of the caddy, it's more reflecting on your own inability to play in wind. I mean, you would have been like 50 yards short then if you had hit 8 iron...... how often does someone misclub by 50 yards
[/quote]
Thanks for your kind words ;-) It was the first time I played a links course in a city that is called 'The windy city' (no not Chicago). So yes I had no idea how to play in these strong winds. That was my point! A caddie will help you most in conditions/courses you are not used to.

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[quote name='TB07' timestamp='1434918105' post='11801746']
[quote name='pinhigh27' timestamp='1434917034' post='11801634']
a couple at most unless its a gimmick course that the am has never played before. ams don't stroke it consistently enough where good reads are going to magically make them 5 more putts a round
[/quote]

This. They don't stroke it or strike it consistent enough. Maybe a couple strokes, but I would guess not significant.
[/quote]

I disagree completely, I would go the other direction and say that the worse the player the more strokes they stand to gain. As everyone talks about: golf is a mental game as much as physical, so which player is more likely to need good advice and a calming influence - the low single digit or the 15 to 20 handicapper?

Many high handicappers grossly misjudge their ability to hit shots (recovery or approach), pick the wrong club, try to shape the ball when they don't have the swing to do so, misread greens completely, etc. I'd wager a great caddy could easily shave 5-10 strokes off a guy shooting in the 90s.

On the other hand a guy playing to single digits might make better use of the specific info about angles of approach, etc but he has a solid game and hopefully a better mental approach in the first place.

Obviously a great caddy will help anyone, but I think it would benefit a high handicap more. Just like lessons, the worse you are the easier it is to help you.

Edit: you guys make it sound like high handicappers can't hit the ball and that's not true. There are a lot of athletic people out there who can hit the ball most of the time but have inconsistencies in their swing (two way miss) and make poor decisions or let their frustration get the better of them. A caddy can help with that tremendously just by helping with course management and shot selection...

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[quote name='TB07' timestamp='1435162725' post='11826120']
Someone please hook me up with these caddies that save 4-6 strokes per round.
[/quote]

Most good caddies would be able to do this. Most people will play the wrong shot or clbu when often they know it is not right. With the caddie there they help you focus. Some can do without but if they werent any good then the pro's wouldn't need to hire a caddy and would just get someone different each week to carry the clubs and keep quiet.

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[quote name='Hathstauwk' timestamp='1435061548' post='11817288']
My definition of an 'excellent caddie' - one that has three extra sleeves of my balls tucked under his bib, and a hole in his pocket.

[/quote] my goodness, is that you Auric Goldfinger? Shall we make it a shilling a hole?

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I think the biggest part of the question is that we're being asked about a "great" caddie. A [u]great[/u] caddie would know what kind of golfer he had to work with, the emotional and mental tendencies of that player, the mechanics of his/her misses, and would know the course like the back of his hand.

In short, he'd know the player's game better than the player did, and the course better than the greenskeeper.

Come on. Haven't you guys seen Bagger Vance? (cool)

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I would say in a typical round, a caddy would probably save about 3-5 strokes. Those can come from seeing which way an oddly positioned green would have or even the subtle tendencies a fairway has to kick a ball one way or the other. I remember playing with a fore caddie and he basically laid out the best places to land the ball and gave precise yardage on each shot. I can see how that added knowledge and experience can pay dividends to a pro golfer who hits it exactly where they want to.

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