Every golfer in a major tournament has their caddie to help them select the right club and make crucial decisions on the course. However, the golfer’s caddie is not the only one lending a helping hand. A forecaddie is a designated personnel member assigned a specific hole on which they help keep track of the golfers shot from the green.
What Is A Forecaddie In Golf
A Forecaddie helps locate and track golf balls on specific holes. Because the golfer and their caddie don’t always have the best vantage point to see where the ball ends up, the Forecaddie is at the other end of the shot to help keep track.
Without a Forecaddie, there may be more balls lost by golfers and penalty shots incurred, as well as slower gameplay.
Typical Forecaddie Duties
What does a forecaddie do? Besides keeping track of golf balls from the green, or further down the fairway or rough, Forecaddies have a few other duties that help keep gameplay steady and assist golfers in staving off penalty strokes.
Here are some of the other typical duties that a Forecaddie is responsible for:
- Keeps gameplay steady by cutting down on time needed for golfers to look for golf balls
- Sometimes, a small flag beside the ball will be placed, so it is easy to spot by a golfer walking down the hole
- In a formal game, a Forecaddie will generally share no advice or opinions. However, in a casual game, it is not frowned upon for the Forecaddie to lend a different perspective
- Indicate to players whether the ball has gone out of bounds, is in tall grass, invokes a penalty stroke, or is unsafe to play at a particular time
Differences Between Forecaddie and Caddie
In the vast majority of scenarios, the Forecaddie will give no input to the golfer about how they should play their game. The Forecaddie’s sole job is to keep track of balls, so golfers don’t need to spend extra time locating them.
The caddie has a close relationship with the golfer, and they can be seen as a team. Whereas, the Forecaddie has no affiliation with any specific golfer and helps all competitors on the field equally and without bias.
Forecaddie vs. walking caddie? Think of a Forecaddie as a helper to the tournaments gameplay, and the walking caddie as a helper to an individual’s performance.
What Is A Forecaddie Fee
A Forecaddie fee is what you will pay the club to provide your group with a Forecaddie. However, sometimes a group of golfers can hire a Forecaddie collectively to cut down on the overall cost.
At some of the more prestigious resorts, the Forecaddie fee will be around the $75 range. The cost is often built into the green fees and is not considered an extra charge.
If you’re wondering why some courses are so much more expensive than others, it may be because they are providing a Forecaddie for you.
The Forecaddie fee should not be confused with the tip you leave for them, however.
How Much Do You Tip A Forecaddie
The amount you will leave as a Forecaddie tip will ultimately be a personal decision. However, a benchmark tip amount would sit between $20-$25 per golfer.
In the case of tipping, it is essential to note that a Forecaddie may rely on tips from golfers pretty heavily to meet expenses. If a Forecaddie receives no tips on a day on the course, they may be missing out on a large portion of their expected income.
So how much does a foursome tip a Forecaddie? Likely somewhere around the 80-100$ range.
In any case of tipping golf club staff, always remember that generosity is better than stinginess, and giving an extra $5 or $10 can go a long way.
Forecaddies use signals to let players down the course know what is happening with their ball.
Without these hand signals, players may not know their golf ball is out of bounds or made its way into a penalty area. An official at a tournament must know how to forecaddie in golf.
There are a few critical signals a Forecaddie has to know, here are the most common ones:
- Safe: The official is certain that the ball is safely in play. The signal consists of crossing the hands in front of the body and extending them to either side. Similar to a “no goal” signal in hockey, or the “safe” signal in baseball.
- Penalty Area: When the ball has landed in a penalty area such as a water hazard, the official will point downwards on the right side of their body with one hand.
- Out Of Bounds: When a ball is out of play, the Forecaddie will extend both of their hands in front of them and raise them above the head together, as if throwing a large ball backwards over the body.
- Didn’t See The Shot: If a Forecaddie doesn’t see the ball come in, they will cover both of their eyes with their hands.
- Ball in Tall Grass: If the player’s ball is in tall grass, the Forecaddie will lightly clap their hands together on the left side of the body with both arms fully extended.
- Hit Provisional: If the Forecaddie believes a player must hit a provisional ball, they will cross both of their arms in front of them with the forearms making an X pattern.
- Stop: When the Forecaddie deems it unsafe to play a shot at a particular time, they will hold both of their hands’ palms out in front of them.
- Play Away: When it is safe to continue play, the Forecaddie will point to the left side with the left hand, and make a circle to their right side with their right hand.
If you have any other questions or tips about what a Forecaddie does and how you can work with them, please leave them in the comments section below.
Lawrence Smelser is part of the Golfible editorial staff and is a freelance golf writer. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour and most recently the 2019 Masters. He holds a journalism Bachelor's degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas