A day in the life of a caddie

By Michael Uugwanga

CADDIES do not get much credit on a golf course, but in many ways they should, after all they are the ones moving with players every step of the way working as a team to achieve a common goal.
A good caddie is more than a mere assistant, he is a guide, philosopher, and a friend and this relationship between a golfer and his/her caddie is one of the most unique in sports, and it can have a direct impact on a player’s success.
A caddie is the person who carries a player’s bag and clubs, and gives the player advice and moral support.
In Namibia the sport of golf is still at amateur level, however the job of caddies even at this level cannot go unnoticed.
The country’s first black professional golfer, Joe Nawanga started off as a caddie at the Rössmund Golf Course in Swakopmund, that he learnt so much about the sport and today is one of the country’s most celebrated professional golfers.
Nawanga is also a golf instructor at the Windhoek Country Club and Golf Resort.
Steve Williams is arguably the most recognised caddie in the modern era and maybe in the history of the game thanks in part to Tiger Woods.
The legend from New Zealand was on Tiger’s bag in his prime beginning in 1999 where they ripped off 13 majors and a boatload of victories during their partnership. Not only was he his caddie, he also acted partly as security due to Tiger’s fame.
Today, Williams’ net worth is reportedly U$20 million (N$280 million).
Confidente Sport spoke to one of the country’s longest serving caddies at the Windhoek Country Club and Golf Resort, Veino Namboga and a younger caddie Immanuel Angol.
Being a great caddie is all about understanding what your player needs and expects and this is exactly what Namboga and Angol are doing.
Some golf players need a hands-on caddie that can read putts, feel out lies, and how the ball reacts, while others just want a buddy that can distract them from the pressure of a five-hour round.
In other parts of the world like in the USA, South Africa, Europe or Asia professional caddies make good money, while in Namibia it is a different story because golf events hosted in the country are at amateur level.
“I started as a caddie in 1983 when I was 15. Working as a caddie is good as we mostly make good money when there are competitions taking place at the club. If there are no competitions then there is no job for us. In a day I can make N$200.
“What brought me here for the caddie’s job from Ongandjera is because I was unemployed. Through my years I have seen golfers come and go. I am old now and I cannot think of applying for another job. I heavily rely from the little money I’m making here to bring bread on the table for me and my family.
“I am enjoying my job as complaining will never help. I do play golf sometimes if it is not busy,” said Namboga, who is in his early 50s.
Angol (30) said: “I have been a caddie for eight years. I feel good because I have learnt a lot from the experts. It also feels good to be on a golf course than watching the sport on television as I used to do when I was still young.
“I play golf every Monday. Sometimes I do teach new golfers and even old golfers tactics. I was brought here at the Country Club by my friends -who have been caddies before me- when the club was looking for caddies.
“You can make a living out of the caddie job if you use your brain wisely.”
Last year when the country went into lockdown, sport was put on a standstill which affected every activity, and caddies were not spared. This prompted the Windhoek Golf Club to fork out N$30 000 in food vouchers for caddies as they did not have any social income.
Speaking to Confidente Sport, golf director, Steve Basson said the club has always made sure that the caddies are well looked after.
“Every year the Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) spends N$300 000 on caddies countrywide. We have about 15 caddies here. In July, this year we are planning to introduce a programme for every club to encourage all of its club members to pay its caddies. We are also going to introduce a development and training programme for caddies.”
Rössmund Golf Course in Swakopmund, which is the second biggest golf course in the country, has more than eight regular caddies.