Monday, August 24, 2009

China’s Caddy System

This week’s edition will feature an inside look into one of the most interesting things about playing golf in China, the mandatory use of caddies. In golf, a caddy is someone who carries a player’s bag and gives advice on how to play the golf course. Caddies have had a long history with the game of golf and many professionals working in the golf industry today got their start by working as a caddy at their local club.

Caddies were once very popular at many private golf clubs throughout the United States. But with the advancement of golf carts and GPS systems, caddies are now considered a luxury and the market for caddies has all but disappeared. Nowadays only a handful of golf clubs in the US still offer caddy services.

It was not until I arrived in China, that I was able to play my first round of golf with a caddy. For anyone fortunate enough to play golf in Asia, they have experienced playing a round with their own personal caddy. I believe there are two main reasons that caddies are mandatory at all clubs in Asia. The first reason is job creation. In the greater Shanghai area there are over 35 golf courses with each facility having between 125-200 caddies available. That’s almost 5,000 jobs created for the local job market.

The second reason caddies are mandatory is it’s an economic win-win situation for both parties involved. The average cost of a caddie for a full round of golf in China is RMB100 about 14.60 USD. Compare this with the average cost of a caddie in America being $40-60. Because of China’s lower cost of living, golfers can enjoy using a caddy for almost ¼ of the price. This standard rate also provides the caddy with a good chance at earning money. Again China’s cost of living is much lower than Western countries and for a local Chinese earning this amount is a very acceptable pay for approximately 4 hours of work.

One interesting fact that’s worth mentioning is that 90% of the caddies in China are females between the ages of 18-28. Most of these young girls leave their hometowns and come to the big golf cities of China for a chance to find a good job. With over 1.3 billion people in China, finding good work can be challenging and caddying at a prestigious golf club provides a unique working environment and the ability to earn much more money than they could in their hometowns.

Since I play most of my golf in China now, I’ve now become accustomed to having my own caddy for every round of golf I play. I always enjoy playing golf with a caddy as its great fun to interact with them on the course. All of our caddies have gone through extensive training and are all very good at their jobs. They really do an excellent job of enhancing your experience at the golf course, especially if it’s your first time playing that course. Hope you enjoyed that insight into China’s Caddy System, here is a breakdown of the photos:

#1 – Saturday Morning at Sheshan Golf Club. Hanging out with the caddies as they line up preparing to go on the golf course.

#2 – A peak inside the Caddie Room, this picture was taken around 12:30pm as the caddies were all taking a rest, getting ready to hit the course again that afternoon.

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