Here's a tip on tipping at the golf course: When in doubt, be generous

So you've finished your round, and there they are: Those poor cart boys or gals, lying in wait, ready to intercept you and your clubs before you can make it to the parking lot (if you're even allowed to drive your cart out there). They're armed with dirty, wet towels, anxious to wipe off your clubs and deliver them to the bag drop.

Your biggest concern: How much do I have to tip these guys?

At some private clubs, believe it or not, nothing (those clubs typically don't take cash anywhere). It's part of the service, and some have no-tipping policies. At most clubs -- and especially resorts and high-end daily fees -- you need to be ready with some small bills. But just how many small bills?

To be safe, $3 to $5 per bag should do the trick. Heck, even $5 per cart really isn't bad. If you do the math -- that's $10 per foursome -- and considering how many carts go out on the course, I'm sure the cart staff would be happy if they averaged that much per bag.

But they don't. Incredibly, they do get stiffed, and more often than you think. I asked a couple of cart boys how often this happens. Their answer: At least half the time. Often one player looks to the other to take care of it, and none of them do. Or worse yet, they just don't know or care.

But you might also want to pay attention to how much work they do in cleaning your clubs. If it's just a cursory wipe here and there, I might tip $2 or $3. If they really do clean your clubs, thoroughly, certainly a little more.

Here's some other golf-course tipping questions that are a little more complicated.

Do I tip at bag drop and at the end, or just once?

Often, the person who takes your clubs at bag drop also takes care of bags at the end of the round, so you're probably okay just tipping at the end. At some courses, tips are actually pooled, so taking care of them once is okay there, too. There are certainly exceptions, though.

If you're dropping off an entire group or two, you should probably take care of them in the beginning and at the end, especially if they're running your bags to the golf carts as well.

How much and how often should I tip the drink-cart girls?

Yes, notice I didn't say cart person here. It's rare that person running around the golf course isn't a woman, and often they're fairly attractive.

I'm sure I don't have to tell the readers here that's by design. No doubt, attractive cart girls -- working a golf course with mostly middle-aged men -- sell more drinks and beer than the ho-hum kind do. And guess what? They also do better in the tip department.

One particular "cart girl of the month" told me on more than one occasion she received tips approaching the C-note. What exactly those customers expect is still a mystery to me, but I have little doubt they wouldn't have been so generous with a 60-year-old man peddling snacks and drinks on the course.

So what’s appropriate? That all depends on what you’re ordering and how much work they have to do for you. If they’re mixing four Bloody Marys, for example, that’s a lot different than just grabbing a bottle of pop. Generally, you can figure it like you would if you were at a restaurant. Putting together a six-pack of beer for you in a cooler might cost you $25, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to go 20 percent, which is $5. On the other hand, if you’re getting a soda and ask for a cup of ice to go with it, you should probably throw in an extra buck, or if it’s $2.25, at least give her $3 and let her keep the change. It’s really common sense.

How much should I tip a caddie?

This is a dilemma most golfers face when they take a caddie or forecaddie for the first time and, quite honestly, even the 20th time. I always ask the head pro or director of golf or maybe the caddie master what's customary at that club or facility, because they do tend to differ from place to place. At Kiawah Island, for example, caddies are "included" in the Ocean Course green fee, but they suggest a $100 tip on top of it.

Who you don't want to ask is one of the caddies. You put them in an uncomfortable position, and it's been my experience that their input tends to be on the higher side. (Can you blame them?) I am, however, related to a caddie, so it is interesting to hear what he considers average-to-good tipping. By and large, caddies are kind of like servers at restaurants. The caddie fee barely covers their expenses - they make their living on tips - so keep that in mind. If they work hard for me (even if some of the reads aren't correct), I'll throw in an extra $10 or $20 on top of whatever the pro recommends as customary.

So what is typically customary tip on top of the fee? For a forecaddie, about $20 to $25 per player. For a caddie toting just your bag -- around $40 to $50 -- a little less for a double bag because the other player should be tipping said caddie, too. But if you want to be safe, don't be afraid to ask the head pro or director of golf. You can ask the caddie master, too, but I prefer to ask a pro. They're a little more objective.

Some other tipping tips

At some courses, valeting your car is either complimentary or required or both. I think a couple of bucks here is plenty for retrieving your car, especially if you're forced to valet. Certainly, though, if you feel like giving them $5, that's not excessive, and at many facilities, those tips are supposed to be pooled.

Another tipping opportunity occurs in the locker room. I've heard stories of prominent tour pros who have no clue in this department, but if there's a locker room attendant, and he's really working for you, $5 would certainly be appropriate. The same goes for a shoe service. If they change your spikes, clean and polish your shoes, $5 should be the minimum; $10 is certainly not out of the question.

9 Min Read
August 26, 2021
Who should you tip and how much? From caddies to bag boys to locker room attendants, here's how much cash you should bring to the club.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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at our bag drop,,,tips are taken by the guys that load the carts and clean clubs at the end of a round,,,from there, the,cart attendants,,turn the carts,(toss the garbage,wash the cart,and return carts to bag drop,for the next guests) as well as help bag drop guys with loading and unloading bags from cars to and from cars as well as cleaning clubs when bag drop area becomes crowded.. .and cleaning also clean out ,wash,park and plug in(electric) all the carts at the end of the day,,,,,,The question is,,,,,,how much tip sharing should the bag drop guys give to the cart attendants ???

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Wow. This article needs to be revised!
So you tip a server automatically 20% for service rendered. Did this server talk to you for 5 hours? Find out where your from? Clean up after you? Offer great advice? Maybe a handful of servers achieve this level of service. So yes tip them 20% or more. A great caddie will do the following and then some.
Let’s outline some of our duties for you folks that need to read exactly what a caddie does. So as you read this I want you to think about being at a place that has servers or someone doing a service for you. Yep, someone who does a service for you.

First thing is when we introduce ourselves we are positive and want to be with you on our golf course that we know better than you. That’s important to this game of golf. All caddies go through tough training before they start working at a golf course. We make sure that you stay hydrated. We clean your clubs, most times you will leave the course with your clubs in better shape then when you arrived. If asked we can offer swing advise. Don’t forget Caddies are very good golfers!!
Every hole you will get key hole descriptions and recommendations for what club to use. We maintain the golf course, fill divots, rake bunkers, fix ball marks etc... Don’t forget we know the greens “better than most”. So when we give you awesome reads and you sink that “Birdie” or “Eagle” putt it’s worth something. You will also hear some great caddie stories. So base your tip on the level of service.

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Obviously this article is unfair - to set a price for an enjoyable game of golf is just not appropriate. Imagine it is 100 degrees outside- your caddie is wearing his/her uniform proudly. He/she has water, tees, towels, and most importantly the guide to making great shots on your dream course all day! Five hours the caddy services you. I think that is worth more than $20-25 bucks folks!

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45$ Is good to pay a saler on a small course but if there with you for a half day on 16 hole course pay them 125$

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these are poor rates-- 13 holes should be $50 to the forecaddy and $60 bucks if they 'tote your bag.' Then, at that rate, it's on you to tip for solid 'advice' during your round of golf. Feel free to gift that money straight in to your caddies' pocket at any moment. Trust your gut when you are playing a good game.
Jack "Sn'B"
P.S. Son of a bitch, I almost forgot- pay the caddy extra if they are 'counting'.

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I’m a caddie, you have to tip. We work our a** off to let u play and we don’t get a base salary!
Trust me u need to tip

Commented on

I am new to the game and I am currently taking lessons with a pro at our local course. What is the customary tip for the Golf Pro?

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I have the same question.

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That’s not how you pay a caddy. Even B caddies make more than that at my golf course. I’m an honor caddy and get minimum $160 total per round up to as high as $400. If you can’t afford a caddy go to a golf course with carts.

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Daniel--I bet you are a real prince out there. I'd prefer a cart over your ego any day.

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the grounds crew should make more than you. I've nothing against caddies, but you kind of sound like a spoiled petulant little country club prick.

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....'' But you might also want to pay attention to how much work they do in cleaning your clubs. If it's just a cursory wipe here and there, I might tip $2 or $3''...

You might be very generous... a cursory wipe here and there should get nothing at all.

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Anything is better than nothing. If you want to tip, then do it. But if they recognize you the next time you go after you skip a tip, don’t expect anything in the way of a club cleaning

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More than you think, some players you come across have NEVER cleaned a club.

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The tipping issue is one of great mystery. I have 2 sons that work in the business and both have been involved with carts, clubs and member interaction. I can say both have worked at the higher end country clubs in the region. Some days you get great tips, others you get nothing. One club pools the tips for the entire day then splits them, the other is shift by shift.. My advice if you want a job in golf, see what your benefits are, like can you play there when you are not working, can you make your own schedule, more pay on the weekends, . and tips are a bonus.

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Here's a tip on tipping at the golf course: When in doubt, be generous