- Written by Queen Munguti for KenyaKidz
Joseph Wanaina watches keenly as the golfer standing a few centimeters in front of him hit the golf ball. He raises his hand over his forehead to shield his eyes from the glaring sun as he follows it to where it falls. The golfer looks back and smiles at his caddie, an indication that was a good hit.
At 40 years old, Wanaina still loves what he does. “I have been a golf caddie for 15 years and for me it never gets boring” he says.
His journey began in 2002 when he applied for a job at the Muthaiga Golf club, lucky for him at the time the club was also looking for young people that they could train to be caddies for some of the professional golfers at the club and he got the job three days after applying.
“Honestly, when I got the job, I was just doing it because I loved watching the game and wanted a front seat view of the action. I did not think that I would still be working here today, I thought of it as a hobby and as a temporary job as I searched for a permanent one that I thought, at the time, would be more sustainable,” he said.
Little did he know, that being a golf caddie would turn out to be more sustainable than he had anticipated. “I only had two days of training and then I was asked to caddie for a golfer. We are trained at the club because they have a certain standard that they expect us to adhere to and they have their own exclusive training methods.
“Depending on how quick one is to learn then the faster it is for them to be deployed into the ‘field’ but in some cases it can even take months of training. But usually with such a job it mostly centers on learning as you work that is where you will get the best knowledge of the game, learn the terminologies and even the colloquialism.”
Today, he caddies for one Kenya’s young top professional golfers, Nelson Mundanyi.
On formal education, none is required but one has to speak fluent English and Kiswahili, although also speaking another foreign language is an added advantage as the club is home to golfers of different nationalities.
“Being social is also a job requirement. One needs to relate well with the golfers in order to get repeat jobs, if one is rude to them, there is a high chance of not being picked as choice caddie, no recommendation will come through or even worse being fired,” he said.
Other responsibilities for caddies other than carrying a golfer’s clubs include; lining the golf course and driving them around the golf course. From these caddies can earn generous tips that they can add on their daily pay.
On average a caddie can earn at least, Sh800 this is the amount earned per round ‘caddied’. “This can even be more depending on how active you are on the day and how many recommendations you get.”
The minimum age for one to become a caddie is eighteen years as that is the legal working age in Kenya. A valid identification card is required to verify the age.
As a career choice, Wanaina would gladly recommend it. “I have done it for fifteen years, I am able to meet my daily needs and take care of my family. But of case, like any other jobs it does have its up and downs.”