Tournament Preparation and Yardage Books

December 19, 2008

One of the things I get asked about is what we (the caddies) do during the week.  Everyone knows most tournaments start on Thursday and end on Sunday.  But, why do we show up to the course on Monday?

Before the actual tournament rounds, a lot of work and preparation needs to be accomplished.  You will see players on the range, in the short game areas and on the putting green, but without their caddies.  Where are we?

One of the traits that exemplifies a good professional caddie is knowing the course.  The information needed to navigate a PGA TOUR golf course is vast and precise.  So, the first thing we do when we get into town is to walk the course.  This is how we breakdown and determine the best way to attack each hole and hole location.

We are not completely in the blind, however during this process.  Many tools are available to help us do our job.  Each week, we may purchase a TOUR Yardage Book.  These books are created by caddies (former and present) and contain a wealth of information including charts of each hole, each green, yardages from sprinkler heads and landmarks to the green.  I have shoeboxes full of yardage books at home.  We also employ laser-based range finders and reflecters that not only determine the distance for one point to another, but also can find the amount uphill or downhill the shot will play.  These cannot be used during tournament play.  Some use green reading devices which when placed on the putting surface will give you a numerical reading of the direction and intensity of the slope.  This can be extremely helpful for greens at courses that are set into a hillside when the breaks can be hard to determine due to the surroundings.  But, whatever technology we use to gather information pales in importance to the actual strategy needed to successfully negotiate a course.

Here are some of the things I look for on each hole:

Best line and club for the tee ball.  Where do we have the maximum chance to place our ball in the fairway at the correct angle to the flag…  This can be determined by the fairway width, the angle from the tee to the fairway, bunker placement and places to avoid.  Driver is NOT always the best play.  I will check the rough around the landing areas to see if one side is better to miss it on than the other.  I also need yardages to the bunkers or places where the fairway “runs out” to the rough.

Greens work.  To help decide where to place the tee ball, you need to examine the green and its obstacles.  During play, there will be four distinct pin locations each day on each hole.  Knowing where the cups will be located and determining the slopes around those spots are crucial to helping your player get the most out of his practice rounds and preparing him for the tournament.  Often, you can find an official on the course scouting and setting up the pin locations.  It never hurts to ask a few questions or follow them around a little bit!

When you put it all together, it ends up looking something like this:



One Response to “Tournament Preparation and Yardage Books”

  1. John Coyne Says:

    Who’s your caddie?
    I write novels and my last two (published by St. MartinsPress/Thomas Dunne books are entitled “The Caddie Who Knew Ben Hogan” and “The Caddie who Played with Hickory” and I’d be happy to send Southwestgreenofohio copies to read over the winter months. Drop me an email at: (check out my website

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