This caddie course for parents of junior golfers is helpful in that Dad or Mom on the Bag has basically the same function as a caddie looping for any professional golfer, but generally with much less training or knowledge of what is required to both make the round a fun and enjoyable experience and also give their junior the best chance of a good score. The article, Being A Good Parent Caddie, is a good start but this Course and Quiz takes your knowledge and ability to the next level. Lets have a closer look at what caddying involves if your junior golfer is playing in a tournament that allows parent caddies.
So, what should a parent caddie be prepared to do?
Before the Round
- Plan the start of the day, including commute time (plan to arrive at least 1 hour prior to tee time), have a checklist (mental or written) of items to take including shoes, water, snacks, umbrella, check status of golf balls, push cart, rain gear etc. Most pro shops do not sell junior shoes so make sure you don't arrive at the course without them!
- Make sure the player is on the correct tee box 10 minutes before tee time. We recommend 30 minutes on the range then 20 minutes for chipping and putting. This is the current time allotment allowed at AJGA tournaments and works well as a general guideline. At the end of the range warm up our juniors like to visualize their first hole tee shot and simulate that specific shot before they head to the putting green.
- Allow time to get from the range to the first or 10th tee box (or other tee if it is a shotgun start). Some courses have a long walk/ride to the 10th tee so make sure to ask and be aware of the time and route to the tee. Juniors do sometimes miss their tee times due to not knowing these details!
- Be prepared with extra golf balls, tees, pencils, a divot repair tool and a ball marker.
- Before teeing off, juniors should mark their ball so it can be identified, show the ball to the other players in the group, and swap scorecards so they are not keeping their own score.
- Do they have snacks and water. The article Junior Golf Tournament Nutrition as some good suggestions on what to eat during the round.
- What’s the weather going to do? Do you have an umbrella, rain gloves, spare gloves, spare set of sock, and extra towels handy? In general, be prepared with the right rain gear if the forecast indicates it could rain.
- Make sure you obtain and understand local rules from the starter. Are there holes with drop zones, is it lift/clean/place, is there a pin sheet (hole location) that you can use etc.
During the Round
- Carry the bag or push the golf cart. (For great golf bag and push cart options see our buying guides.)
- Clean the clubs (after every shot) and ball (whenever allowed).
- Keep track of the ball flight and help find lost balls.
- Help your player keep score and confirm scores with playing partners after each hole. Do NOT assume you and the other players/caddies know what the score were, confirm when it is fresh in everyone's mind!
- Rake the bunkers, fill divots, repair your player’s ball marks etc.
- Make sure your junior is having plenty of water and a healthy snack after 3 or 4 holes.
- Help to keep up pace of play to avoid penalties.
- Check scores and accompany your player to the scoring area.
An Important Reminder
It is most important to remember, that you are a caddie out there and not a parent. Try not to talk more than necessary, control emotions (don't get upset) and don't over-coach. None of this is productive during tournament play. If you battle with this aspect, imagine that you are caddying for a junior that is not you child, how would you react, would you be more encouraging than demanding, would you smile more?
Some Important Rules
The above is generally self-explanatory. You also need to have a good understanding of the basic rules of golf, especially if your junior golfer is new to tournament play and also to make sure you don’t do anything that will result in a penalty to your player as a result of your own actions.
These are some rules that are particularly relevant to being a parent caddie
Number of Clubs
A player can only take 14 clubs in their bag. If you have a non-conforming club in your bag you will only be penalized if you use it, but it does count towards the 14 maximum.
Back in the day, before the 2019 rules changes, there would be some parent caddies that would spend an excruciating amount of time preparing their player for a shot – all shots, every time. They would tee the ball up on the tee box for the player (still allowed to do this as the ball is not technically in play until it is struck) then physically align their junior, stand behind them to make sure etc.
Juniors need to learn from an early age how to set their stance and alignment themselves. Under current rules, no one can help a player with his alignment for the stroke. A caddie is no longer allowed to stand behind the player to help with alignment for any shot, including putting, anywhere on the golf course. At the moment the player begins to take his stance (and until the shot is played), the caddie must not deliberately stand directly behind the player. If the player backs off and takes the stance again with the caddie no longer behind the ball, this will avoid a breach of the rule. The player can also not put anything down on the ground to help with his alignment. These rules violations results in a 2 shot penalty.
Showing Line of Play
If you are not on the green the caddie can point out a line of play, but must back away before the player takes his stance. If anything has been put down to show the line it must be picked up before the player takes his stance.
On the green, the player or caddie is allowed to touch the surface of the green but not in order to improve conditions. Nothing can be set down on the green to show the line of play, even if it is picked up before the player takes the shot.
While the stroke is being made the caddie cannot deliberately stand close to line of play or do anything to point out line of play.
Marking and Lifting Ball on Green
The player’s caddie is allowed to mark and lift the ball on the putting green any time the player is allowed to do so. It is no longer required to get the player’s authorization every time. It is important to remember, however, that the ball must be replaced by the person who lifted it. So if the player lifted the ball then he must replace it. If the caddie lifted it, then he must replace it. If the player putts the ball that was replaced by the wrong person they will get a penalty stroke.
Asking and Giving Advice
By all means give your player advice if they ask for it but you are breaking the rules if you ask another player or his caddie for advice on the golf course, for example: what club did you hit there?, or how should I approach the green from this angle? You will also be assessed a penalty if you give advice to another player or his caddie or touch the other player’s equipment with the objective of getting information.
Information about rules, distances, location of a penalty area, flagstick or the green is considered public information so not considered to be providing advice.
Help your player and other players in the group look for lost balls but remember there is a 3 minute limit on looking. If the ball moves in the search (e.g. kicked or stood on) there is no penalty but the ball must be put back where it was (if the player hits a ball that was not replaced there is a 2 stroke penalty.)
Ball in Motion
If a ball in motion accidentally hits the player, his equipment, his caddie or the flagstick (whether in or out) there is no penalty. However, you cannot place equipment or the flagstick or anything with the purpose of stopping or slowing a ball in motion.
Number of Caddies
A player can only have one caddie at one time. He can change to a different caddie during the round, but not temporarily for the sole purpose of getting advice from the new caddie. You get a one stroke penalty for each hole during which there was more than one caddie and if the breach continues or happens between two holes you get the penalty for the next hole too.
Moving Loose Impediments
Loose impediments in a bunker may now be removed or touched, provided the ball does not move. If the ball moves as a result, there is a one stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced. You also can’t touch the sand with hand, club or rake to test the condition of the sand.
Loose impediments in a penalty area may be removed. If the ball moves it must be replaced.
Images of Putting Greens (Green Maps)
Any putting green image that is used during the round must be limited to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards. A yardage or greens book must also meet a size limit of 7 inches x 4.25 inches. Any hand drawn or written information by the player or the caddie is allowed, but only if contained in a book or paper meeting this size limit.
Protection from the Elements
A player must not make a stroke:
- While getting physical help from his or her caddie or any other person, or
- With his or her caddie or any other person or object deliberately positioned to give protection from sunlight, rain, wind or other elements.
The player can, however, take his own actions to protect against the elements while making a stroke, such as by wearing protective clothing or holding an umbrella over his own head.
The above rules were chosen as they relate more closely to caddies and highlight areas where caddies who are ignorant of the rules can inadvertently add penalties to the player’s score whereas a good caddie tries very hard to help trim off strokes from a score. For information on general rules knowledge see our Golf Rules Summary.
In general, parent caddies should strive to remain positive at all times and make the experience fun and enjoyable for the junior. For more information on how to be a supportive and positive influence see the US Kids and Positive Coaching Alliance page.