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Good caddie can improve a golfer’s performance by 30-per-cent, according to Loughborough researcher

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A good quality caddie relationship can improve a golfer’s performance by 30%, according to new research published today by Loughborough University.

The research, commissioned ahead of this week’s Open Championship by Open patron HSBC, identifies a clear “link between the golfer-caddie relationship and performance success” and concludes that the right caddie can make a difference of “30% or more”.

The report, titled “Understanding the Quality and Functions of the Golfer-Caddie Relationship”, also revealed that:

•    The higher the level (of golf), the stronger the relationship

•    Long-term partnerships tend to be more successful and desirable 

•    Winning strengthens the bond between player and caddie

•    Two-way communication ensures the maintenance of quality golfer/caddie relationships

•    The 4 Cs of Closeness, Commitment, Complementarity and Co-Orientation define a quality player-caddie relationship

The research was conducted by Dr Sophia Jowett, Director of Research Degrees at Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences.

She said: “There is, of course, anecdotal evidence which highlights the importance of the player-caddie relationship but we wanted to scientifically evaluate the caddie contribution – I guess you could call it the ‘Caddie Factor’.

“Based on the feedback from our participants, the right caddie can improve a golfer’s performance by 30% or more and the relationship is critical to success - golfers highlighted how caddies energised, motivated and supported them. All participants agreed that the relationship is stronger and better at the highest level of performance.

“Both caddies and golfers felt that the length of good quality relationships can aid their purpose and bring about performance success and acknowledged the best players tended to have longer relationships with their caddie.

“The majority of golfers and caddies felt that performance accomplishments can promote the relational bonds between golfers and caddies – strengthen the relationship and its longevity. 

“The 4 Cs are fundamental to a successful partnership – Closeness includes trust, appreciation and respect, Commitment is about long-term orientations, Complementarity is about responsiveness, openness and acceptance of roles, and Co-Orientation includes shared knowledge and understanding. Not surprisingly, communication is very important and most disagreements revolved around golf strategies such as club selection and shot decisions.” 

Dr Jowett’s research culminated in the development of a computer software application called TANDEM, which is due to be released at the end of this year and will initially be available to coaches and athletes who wish to understand the effectiveness of their sporting partnership while identifying challenges that may be limiting their progress.

Double Open Champion Padraig Harrington is in no doubt of the value of the right caddie. The Irishman, who won the Claret Jug in 2007 and 2008, said: “It’s simple. In 2007 my caddie Ronan Flood won me The Open.

“On the Sunday I hit my tee shot in the water on 18 and was despondent, I then hit my third shot into the water again and felt like I’d lost. I had to walk about 150 yards for my next shot and Ronan was talking to me, coming out with all the clichés about what to do next – for the first 50 yards I wanted to strangle him, for the next 50 yards I started listening to him and for the last 50 yards I believed him. I was in the zone, then out of it and then back in it again – that really doesn’t happen very often.

“In that moment of time I do believe Ronan made the difference – with any other caddie I would have thought I had lost The Open but my caddie believed in me. It’s all about creating your own reality when you’re on the golf course.

“The Number One criteria is matching the personality - it’s about getting on the same wavelength and the caddie’s opinion is a moderation of your opinion. The ideal situation is that we are both thinking the same thing and we both think it should be the same club – if not, he has to say it. If you are in harmony, you know what the other guy is thinking and then everything is easy.”

HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship & Events Giles Morgan said: “The player-caddie dynamic is one of the great partnerships in sport and never is this relationship more crucial than when facing the challenge of arguably the toughest test in world golf at The Open Championship – this is where the depth of this special relationship comes to the fore.

“As a proud patron of The Open we wanted to highlight this by commissioning a new piece of research which looks a little deeper. In golf, as in business, relationships are fundamental to success and as a global banking and financial services organisation we wanted to further explore the vital ingredients of a winning team.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 14/142

HSBC provides a comprehensive range of financial services to around 58 million customers through four global businesses; Global Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Global Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets and Global Private Banking.

HSBC Golf Sponsorships
HSBC’s global commitment to golf encompasses all levels of the game, from grassroots to elite. HSBC is a Patron of The Open Championship and this partnership with The Royal & Ancient creates a centre of gravity in a global golf portfolio that spans HSBC's key markets.  In Asia, HSBC has spearheaded the arrival of world-class golf events, with its flagship WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore. The WGC-HSBC Champions is renowned as ‘Asia’s Major’ and was once described by 14-time Major winner and former World Number 1 Tiger Woods as “The crowning jewel of all of Asian golf.”

HSBC has been co-title sponsor of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship since 2010 and the event has quickly become one of the biggest events on the European PGA Tour calendar.  As golf returns to the Olympic Games for Rio 2016, HSBC is also sponsoring the Brasil Champions  event on the Tour.

However, underpinning those blue-riband events is a longer-term goal to create a legacy from HSBC’s global tournaments through its sponsorship of youth development and grassroots programmes.  As well as committing to the professional game, HSBC has a longer-term goal to create the legacy through sponsorship of youth development and grassroots programmes around the world. In China, HSBC supports the HSBC China Junior Golf Program – a sustainable long-term structure and framework upon which the future of Chinese golf is being built. This includes the HSBC-sponsored China National Junior Team, the HSBC China Junior Open and the HSBC National Junior Golf Championship: a year-long series of tournaments designed to give China’s elite junior golfers the competitive platform they need to develop their game. In the UK HSBC is sponsor of HSBC Golf Roots – The Golf Foundation's national development programme which promotes the sport in schools, helps youngsters into clubs, and uses golf to promote important life skills such as honesty and respect.

For more details on HSBC's golf activities, visit

Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year title in 2008-09 and has been named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times.
Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University in London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.


Steve Bradley
HSBC Golf Press Office
T: 07771 776568    

Ed Leech
HSBC Golf Press Office
T: 07917111349


Chris Goddard
Public Relations Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697

PR team

Telephone: 01509 222224