When taking a golf vacation in South East Asia, apart from the incredible variations of courses, and the great climate, another unique bonus has to be their wonderful caddies.
At most courses here in Vietnam you will find that caddies are in fact compulsory and are mainly female. In other Asian country’s such as Thailand, you may come across a mother working alongside her daughter, however in Vietnam the policy at most clubs is that caddies are mandatorily retired at the ripe old age of thirty.
I remember the first time I arrived at on an Asian golf vacation, the club’s pro shop assistant explained that I was paying for green fee, cart and a caddie. I told them I really was not that good and had a very high handicap, so really was not worthy of wasting the caddies time. Don’t worry they have all seen a lot worse than you.
As you arrive you will be allocated a caddie most likely on a rotation system, so they all get a fair share of customers on a weekly basis. Many come from around the local villages close to that course, which provides jobs for the local community. All caddies go through a comprehensive training programme before they are let loose, and are likely to at least have some English or Korean in their repertoire.
At the first tee the caddies move into action handing you your driver and explaining the lie ahead such as the distances to bunkers. At each stage they will suggest a club given the yardage, and after your shot will repair any divots and clean your irons. After a few holes they will know your capabilities too and your distances as well. They are also excellent at finding your ball whether in the rough or beside a water hazard.
At the green, a good experienced caddie will be able to read the undulations like a popular paperback novel, so it is worth taking her advice. Remember they probably will see up to four players tackle that tricky par 3 green every day during the high season!
Apart from driving your cart or pulling your golf trolley, a caddie will also hold your umbrella to shade you from the tropical sun, and she may even carry a fan to keep you cool as well.
Your tour operator will be arranging the rates for your round, however we did check out a couple of our popular clubs to find out the actual rates. Caddie fees varied between US$26-30 for 18 holes. If you liked a particular caddie and you wish to book her again then some clubs may charge an additional US$8 -10 as well.
Although the club normally will include the caddie fee in your tour operators package, the caddies do obviously rely on us golfers for their living too. Therefore it is customary at the end of the round to tip them. It’s up to you, but as a guide line expect to give them between US$15 -20 after a round of 18 holes. More maybe if she helps you to a record number of birdies or even perhaps a hole in one!!!
It is great fun playing golf while your caddie looks after you. So when you eventually head home you will soon realise how much you will miss the advice and of course that wonderful Asian smile!