Written By: Nick Quargnenti Disc Golf Pro Tour
Having a caddy in disc golf can provide several benefits. First and foremost, a caddy can help players carry their bags and discs, which is a physical relief that allows players to conserve their energy and focus on their shots. A caddy can also provide mental support, offering encouragement and helping players stay calm and concentrate under pressure. This can make a huge difference in a player’s performance, as disc golf requires a lot of mental fortitude.
Catrina Allen (PDGA# 44184) is one of the best FPO professional disc golfers in the world who has won several major tournaments, including the 2021 PDGA World Championship, and she values having her partner Austin Hannum as her caddy during her rounds.
During the press conference at the 2023 Play it Again Sports Jonesboro Open (referenced in the video above), Catrina Allen spoke highly of the open communication she and Hannum share, which allows them to work together to make the best decisions for her game…
“We have such a great relationship that he can literally be like ‘We got to communicate better’ and it does not take me out of my game. We’re just working through it together, so it may not look like rainbows and butterflies to everybody else, but we’re just putting it all out there. So if he’s like: ‘No you need to throw a sidearm roller right here’ it’s okay because even if I don’t throw the sidearm roller, we’re going to talk it out and we’re going to figure it out as the week goes.”
Austin Hannum (PDGA# 68835) is not just a caddy for Catrina, but also a professional player himself, and he is able to provide valuable insights which help Catrina improve her performance. Hannum knows her game and where her head is at, which makes it easier for him to offer advice that she can trust…
“It’s a nice perspective, and obviously, for the past 5 years we’ve played every practice round together and he knows my game and knows where my head is at, and yeah it’s like I wish I could have him out there more!”
Nonetheless, a caddy who is overbearing or critical can potentially have a negative impact on a player’s game, while a supportive and positive caddy can help players perform at their best. As Catrina mentioned at the press conference, this is why having a caddy that you trust and feel comfortable with is crucial…
“I feel bad because I have so many nice people offer to caddy for me a lot, but if I can’t have that comfortability where we can kind of bicker a little bit – where I say that ‘I feel off or this feels terrible’ – he (Hannum) can be like ‘Get over it’ or ‘Get yourself together’ or ‘You should’ve taken more time on that shot’ where if I don’t know somebody (as well as Hannum) then I don’t want that coming from them. You know we don’t have the privileges yet of having caddies as the PGA has caddies.”
Caddies play a critical role in helping disc golfers achieve their goals on the course. They can offer advice on how to approach a challenging hole, provide moral support when a player is struggling, and help a player stay focused during a round. Additionally, caddies can help disc golfers make strategic decisions, such as choosing the right disc for a particular shot or deciding when to play conservatively and when to take risks.
In 2022, 6x Disc Golf World Champion, Paul McBeth (PDGA# 27523), flew his European Open caddy, Joonas Karin-Oka, to the 2022 USDGC. In the post-R3 interview video below, you can listen to McBeth talk about how his caddy convinced him to take a specific forehand line on this epic scramble shot…
.@Paul_McBeth‘s caddie convinced him to take the forehand line on this epic scramble shot. https://t.co/8dwr6wVhq1 pic.twitter.com/C91wBZdpRx
— Disc Golf Pro Tour (@DiscGolfProTour) July 23, 2022
As the sport grows in popularity, the role of the caddy in disc golf is becoming more specialized and an important part of the disc golfing experience. The caddy’s job is no longer just to carry a player’s bag and offer basic advice on shot selection; instead, caddies now have to understand who they’re caddying for. As such, having a skilled and knowledgeable caddy can make all the difference in a disc golfer’s performance and overall experience on the course.
Who would you choose to caddy for you during a round?