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The Forecaddie: How are they Different from a Caddy

What is a Forecaddie

Caddies are a great part of golf. They are an integral part of golf as there’s nothing like them in any other sport.

You don’t see an NFL quarterback with a guy by his side the entire game helping him out. A person who can be a coach, friend, and sports psychologist all in one. But that’s one of the things that makes golf great.

Today you’ll learn what is a forecaddie, how they differ from normal caddies, and even learn where the term “fore” came from in golf.

Forecaddie in Golf 

You’ll see that caddies have been an integral part of golf for many years if you read our history of the game. The Scott’s coined the term “caddie” (also spelled as cawdy) which referred to someone who did odd jobs. 

The definition of a caddie changed to someone who carried a golf club for players in the 19th Century. In 1817, professional tournaments began to include caddies. To make the experience unique, amateurs can hire caddies on certain bucket list courses. 

But there are two types of “cads” – Forecaddies & caddies. Let’s differentiate the two so you can figure out the role of each and see which type you need for certain rounds of golf.  Find out how to become a caddy.

Forecaddie vs. Caddie (Duties of a forecaddie)

What is the difference between a forecaddie and a caddie?

A caddy is someone who will carry your golf bags for the whole round and offer other services such as:

  • Replacing divots
  • Bunker king
  • Fixing Ball Marks
  • Take down the flagstick
  • Cleaning your golf clubs 
  • Helping you with greenreading
  • After every shot, find your golf ball 
  • Assisting pro golfers with their emotional needs 
  • We offer advice on the tee shot strategy and the approach shot strategy 

All kinds of other roles.

Professional golfers need a Caddie to help them walk the course. They will study the pin sheet, plan their strategies, pace off the distances, and much more. Caddies are an invaluable help in tournaments so that players can concentrate on golf and not on carrying your bag.

But a forecaddie is different. 

Forecaddies are responsible for finding your golf ball. They are not caddies like normal caddies. 

A forecaddie signals back to the group to ensure they don’t need to hit again off the tee. It’s typical for two or four golfers to hire a forecaddie for the group and have them help locate golf balls. Forecaddies are often able to drive a golf cart, with each player walking, rather than walk the course like a traditional caddy. 

I can tell you that forecaddying has never been easier as someone who has caddied. Not only do you get to drive in a golf cart sometimes (to find the golf balls sooner), you don’t have as many responsibilities. Although they don’t make as much in tips, a good foecaddie can still be a great help. By finding your golf ball on every shot, they’ll save you strokes. 

A forecaddie can also be a great help to recreational golfers.

  • Rake bunkers
  • Help read greens
  • Provide local golf course insights 
  • Make sure you don’t lose any clubs
  • Help with tee shot aiming points, and spots to avoid around greens

Tournament Forecaddies

In some cases, there are multiple types of forecaddies. I’ve forecaddied for tournaments (including Torrey Pines) and regularly interacted with the golfers. I drove ahead to each hole, finding all players’ golf balls, while maintaining conversion throughout the round like a regular coach.

Other forecaddies may not interact with golfers, but instead work as an outside entity in a tournament that is organized by tournament organizers. In this case, they will only find golf ball and mark them with small flags. 

This allows golfers to spot their ball quickly and maintain a fast pace. This can be done on the PGA Tour with tournament volunteers, or at some golf courses. On blind shots or potentially hard to navigate holes it’s not uncommon to have a forecaddie as well. 

When to use a forecaddie 

What is the best time to hire a caddy or forecaddie? 

A caddy is great when you haven’t played a golf course before. They can assist you with any aspect of the game and act as your personal assistant on the course.

But if you’ve played the course and want to make sure your group doesn’t lose any balls, hire a forecaddie. It all depends on whether they are allowed to ride in a car or walk. They can also take their clubs with them if they have a cart, which makes it easier for them to walk the course. 

Golf Carts vs. Walking

Depending on what golf course you’re playing, a forecaddie might walk ahead or ride a golf cart. The most significant difference between a normal caddy and a forecaddie is that they sometimes ride in a golf car, rather than walking with the players. This gives them more time to ride ahead to locate all players’ golf balls off the tee. 

A forecaddie may work with two golfers or one additional forecaddie could be hired for a foursome. Rarely would one take a single golfer out with them. They’re typically lower cost to hire vs. a traditional caddy but if they do a great job, deserve a great tip too. 

The History of Forecaddies 

Ever wonder where the…” Golf term “fore” came from?

It’s a good question as we tend to wonder why we don’t say things like “Watch out” or “Get out of the way.” So, why do players around the world yell “fore” when their golf ball is heading towards others?

Because they used to yell “fore-caddie” as they were so common at the golf course. Forecaddies would locate golf balls and would be in the landing zone for errant shots. 

To give them a warning, golfers would yell “fore-caddie”, which was eventually shortened to “fore.” This started in 1914 and is still a tradition today. 

This crazy fact about golf was something I didn’t know after playing for over 20 years. You can now share this information with other players to help them understand. 

What is a Forecaddie

FAQs about Caddies in Golf 

Do you have any questions about golf caddies? Continue reading if you have more questions about golf caddies. 

How much should you tip a forecaddie

A forecaddie’s fee is usually lower than a normal caddy’s fee.

Most golf courses charge a set rate per caddy, which is the cost of having a caddie on the course. They also get a percentage. Sometimes they’re independent contractors too but they make cash tips as well.

It’s good practice to tip caddies based on the green fee (usually 30-50%). The tip is usually larger if the green fees are higher. Plus, these caddies are able to transform a great golf experience into something extraordinary. 

Forecaddies tend to have a smaller fee as they’re not carrying golf clubs. But if they help with green reading, finding balls, and other responsibilities, it’s a good idea to tip them as well. It’s common to split the forecaddie tip among the group since everyone is benefiting from their services.

They also charge a forecaddie upfront, just like traditional caddies. 

Bottom line, don’t be cheap!

What is a forecaddie?

A forecaddie fee, which is the amount that you pay to the golf course to reserve and hire an assistant for the round, is what you pay. It’s best to always tip them as well as their forecaddie fee is a very nominal amount in most cases. 

What are the forecaddie hand signs? 

It’s common for forecaddies to signal back to the group on the tee in case they need to hit a provisional. Here are the most popular forecaddie hand signals.

Out of Bounds

One of the worst things that can happen off the tee is hitting it OB as it’s a two stroke penalty. This requires you to play the shot again with stroke and distance (if you hit your tee shot out of bounds, now you’re hitting your 3rd shot). 

If you are going OB, your forecaddie should either raise his arms above the head to the right or wave both arms in the direction of the OB. If you aren’t sure it’s always a good idea to hit a provisional so you don’t have to walk or run back to the tee box. 

Penalty Area 

A forecaddie will signal that your ball is headed towards a penalty area, also known as a water or lateral hazard. This signal will be given to the player to inform them that their ball is in the penalty area.

A forecaddie can help you get the best drop, as they will be able to see where the ball goes in the hazard. 


If a forecaddie crosses his arms over his torso, this means you should reload (aka hit a provisional) as they aren’t sure if it’s or out of bounds. For example, if you spray your tee shot right and they’re on the left side of the fairway and can’t see if it’s in or out, they’ll use this signal. 


This is the forecaddie sign that we all want to hear! The forecaddie will signal that a shot has been taken safely by moving their hands in front of the body, just like an umpire in baseball. This means you can breathe a sigh of relief and walk to your golf ball knowing it’s in play. 

Unable To Locate The Shot 

The main goal of forecaddies to find all golf balls in the group but they aren’t perfect. Weather and other factors can make it hard to spot tee shots and sometimes they’ll need help too.

If a forecaddie crosses his eyes and puts his hands on his eyes, it means they are unable to find the shot. If you or your group didn’t see it either, it’s a good idea to hit a provisional. 


If the fairway isn’t clear, a forecaddie will raise both hands with palms facing in your direction. This is a signal that you can’t hit yet and they’ll make the play away signal when the fairway is clear. 

Play Away

To signal that the fairway is clear, a forecaddie will move their hand counterclockwise to the right and point with one hand. This signifies that you and your group are now free to tee-off. 

What happens if your golf ball is moved by a forecaddie?

Your golf ball can be replaced if it is accidentally moved by a forecaddie. This ball will be replaced and play can continue as normal. 

However, if your ball hits the forecaddie and bounces off in a bad direction (for instance, a penalty zone), you won’t get relief. This is why it’s a good idea to yell fore so they can get out of the way! 

Can a forecaddie own golf clubs? 

This is the most important difference between a forecaddie and a caddy. A forecaddie is responsible for a lot of other caddy duties like reading greens or repairing ball marks but typically don’t clean clubs or carry the bags. 

Their primary goal is to locate the golf balls for the group. They can either walk or ride ahead of the group. They can use a rangefinder to locate the balls and signal back the tee by being close to the landing area for tee shots. 

Are professional golfers allowed to pay their caddies for their services?

Everyone except Matt Kuchar (it’s a joke but read the full story here after his caddy incident). Yes, professional golfers do hire caddies and pay them salaries and bonuses. It used to be a small percentage of the earnings (roughly 10%), but this structure has changed. 

Since golf doesn’t guarantee money each week like the MLB, NBA, or NFL, if players missed the cut they wouldn’t win anything. Which means zero money for the caddy which isn’t a good business model. 

LIV Golf is loved by professional caddies who reportedly treat them better. Some caddies claim they feel like professional players, with better facilities and other benefits. 

Final Thoughts on a Forecaddie’s Job

Forecaddie and caddie are great ways to get extra help while helping golfers on the fairway. A caddie is a great option for recreational golfers who can quickly see the benefits. A caddie can not only carry your clubs but also help you avoid penalty strokes and find the right balls in tall grass to save you time.

If you’re playing a bucket list golf course, I highly recommend hiring a traditional caddy or forecaddie. If you’ve played the course more often, a forecaddie for the group might be best as it’s cheaper and they’ll help spot golf balls.

Remember that the more they help you and the more friendly they are, the higher the tip. Although a fee forecaddies are charged in the clubhouse they only receive a portion of it. Forecaddies and cadets make the majority of their income from tips (usually cash, but a lot of them use Venmo or other apps). 

Tipping them well is a great way to show appreciation for their service and green reading. It’s a great way to make a fun round even better and less frustrating by not losing golf balls.