Over 140 caddies are needed for the 2017 ISPS HANDA NZ OPEN at Millbrook Resort and The Hills golf courses from March 9 to 12 2017.It’s the perfect opportunity for those keen to ‘get behind the ropes’ during the four-day tournament for an insiders’ view of the event, caddying for keen professionals, the odd celebrity or amateur players.
Unlike volunteers, caddies are paid for their work by their golfer, which can mean anything from around $75 a day up to a share of winnings – and depending on how well the caddy’s performed!
For a lucky few caddies they might carry bag right through to the excitement of the final Sunday, or achieve the ultimate goal of carrying the winner’s bag.
That was the case for volunteer caddy Jaimes Wood from the Royal Wellington Golf Club at the 2015 Open when he had the experience of doing just that for eventual winner Jordan Zunic. Jaimes describes it as an “incredible experience I’ll never forget”.
While the duo paired up again for this year’s event they didn’t make the cut through to the final two days of competition, but needless to say he’ll be on the bag again next year.
Tasked with the job of attracting and managing caddies for New Zealand’s premier men’s golf event, Dunedin City councillor Andrew Whiley clearly remembers the day sitting around the NZPGA board table in 2011 when John Hart asked if anyone had caddy experience.
“I’d had been a caddy at Pebble Beach and had caddied at two AT&T’s (PGA Tour events) there so I put my hand up for the role,” he says.
“To be honest the first PGA Championship in 2012 was a bit of an organisational nightmare, as less than half of those registered got a job, but I went on to organise caddies for the PGA Championship in 2013 and the three New Zealand Opens from 2014 to 2016.
“In tandem with the event’s growth I’ve now got it organised to the extent that over 75% of caddies are assigned before the start of tournament week and around 33% of them have caddied at least four of the events.
“It’s a bit of a reunion turning up for the week of the tournament, with some coming from as far away as Northland and even Australia.
“I’ve made some good mates at both courses, helped amateur players fix shanks, given several lessons and become friends with many pros and amateurs. I’ve also met some of the country’s top business people, a unique aspect of the Pro-Am format.
“Thanks to caddying at the NZ Open, one caddy has even experienced a weekend at the Masters in Augusta, and the tournament’s had many benefits on the golf development of Otago’s junior golfers.”
Queenstown-based golfer Alan Dunn, most recently a member of Arrowtown golf club, has caddied for the last three years for a professional. A 12-handicapper, he thoroughly recommends the job for anyone with an 18-handicap down. “It’s an awesome experience as long as you’re fit, and you learn so much because you see them in action as it happens, up close and personal.”
Chosen caddies need to register on site at Millbrook Resort no later than Wednesday March 8, although most jobs are pre-assigned. The $39 cost of registration includes an ISPS Handa NZ Open golf shirt and cap to wear while caddying and to take home as a souvenir.
Caddies should be social or serious golfers with a good level of fitness to carry a golf bag around both courses. Registration is easy by visiting: www.nzopen.co.nz/caddies-signup.html