Is It Caddie or Caddy in Golf?

We often run into two different spellings of the golf word for a person who carries the golf bag for a golfer: "caddie" and "caddy." Which is correct?

It's "caddie." The proper spelling, in a golf context, of this word is always with the "ie" on the end, never with the "y" on the end.

Caddie good, caddy bad. How can we state it so bluntly? Because golf has two governing bodies — the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, plus the United States Golf Association — and both use only "caddie," never "caddy," throughout the rule book and in all other communications.

For example, there is the definition of caddie that appears in the rule book. In the condensed Player's Edition, it is this:

"Someone who helps you during a round to carry, transport or handle your clubs and/or give you advice. A caddie may also help you in other ways allowed by the Rules (see Rule 10.3b)."

The expanded Full Edition of the rule book provides a bit more detail in the definition of "caddie":

Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:

Carrying, Transporting or Handling Clubs: A person who carries, transports (such as by cart or trolley) or handles a player’s clubs during play is the player’s caddie even if not named as a caddie by the player, except when done to move the player’s clubs, bag or cart out of the way or as a courtesy (such as getting a club the player left behind).

Giving Advice: A player’s caddie is the only person (other than a partner or partner’s caddie) a player may ask for advice.

Check any online (or offline) dictionary and "caddie" will always be given as the preferred spelling. "Caddy" does sometimes appear in such publications as an alternative spelling, but as we've already learned from the governing bodies, it should always be "caddie" in golf.

The Historical Dictionary of Golfing Terms traces the origins of "caddie" to Scottish (caddie or cadie), Old Scottish (caddie, cadie or caudie) and French (cadet). The dictionary provides a note on spelling in which it states that "the spelling caddie is in accordance with traditional Scottish usage, and it remains the strongly preferred form in both British and American golfing writings, including the official publications of the R&A and USGA."

Photo credit: State Library of Queensland/Flickr Commons

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