This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Ariana Sokol, a 25-year-old “model” golf caddy in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sokol has asked to keep certain details of her work private for professional reasons, but Insider has verified her employment with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I was working full-time as a contortionist in a circus in New York before I was laid off during the pandemic. One of my best friends had been working as a caddy with Platinum Tees, a company that provides female “model” golf caddies for hire, for 10 years and encouraged me to move to Las Vegas, as golf, being an outdoor sport, was really taking off there.
I joined Platinum Tees in March 2021 after receiving a referral from her and completing one interview. They asked me if I’m outgoing, personable, and a team player.
Golfers book us directly through Platinum Tees, and we go to caddy at different courses around Las Vegas. The first time I set foot on a golf course was my first round after I got the job. I realized straight away that I actually really love golf.
My job is all about helping golfers have fun
A typical round starts with meeting up with my golfers. I like to get a little backstory and find out if they’re here for a bachelor party, a corporate meeting, or a convention that’s in town.
If they’re celebrating a bachelor party — I usually get these kinds of clients on Fridays to Sundays and in the summer — I’ll joke around with them a lot and put on music. If it’s a work thing, I’ll be quieter so they can talk business.
I always ask what kind of caddy they want. Sometimes they just want me to drive them around and have fun, and sometimes they want me to grab their club the second they’ve finished their shot and put it in the bag. Usually, a round takes four to five hours, depending on how hot it is and how backed up the course is. People ahead of us who are drinking and having a good time tend to slow things down, too.
It took a little less than a month to learn the ins and outs of the course
I remember when I first started, I would write down notes on my phone that I remember hearing other caddies tell golfers or things that golfers would say about the course. I worked pretty much every day when I first got hired, so I was able to pick it up quickly just by paying attention to those little details.
I now know the primary course I work at like the back of my hand, so I’m almost like a flight attendant. I take golfers through the route for each hole so they can bring their best game.
Some days, I wake up at 4:30 a.m. I love going to the gym, so I’ll wake up super early to get it in before a round — especially in the summer, it gets super hot, so the golfers want to start earlier.
I get to work half an hour before the call time, when the golfers are meant to meet up. I say hi to everyone, put on sunscreen, and I’m ready to go.
How you present yourself from hair to makeup to the golf outfit all have an effect on tips
Golf outfits for women are typically super frumpy, so what I like to do is buy a kids-size skirt. They’re short and super cute on. When it’s hot, nothing really helps, but I do find staying away from wearing black or super dark colors makes a little difference.
I try to take care of myself as best as possible. I always get to the golf course with my makeup on and my hair done. Some golf courses do prefer that you dress more conservative, and I find what works best for my body is a formfitting bodysuit and a shorter skirt. Alo Yoga also makes the cutest tennis dresses, and I’m a sucker for a one-and-done type of outfit.
We’re independent contractors, not employees, so we don’t have a salary
We can make the same amount in tips as we do in pay a week. But this all depends on how much we work and how busy it is. (Editor’s note: Insider did not review Sokol’s pay stubs, but Platinum Tees’ founder and CEO Laura Diane told Insider: “The girls are paid a portion of the service fee and get to keep 100% of their tips. On average, the caddies can make up to $1,000 a week in pay, and I assume about the same amount in tips. But this all depends on how much a caddy works during a given week.”)
I’m usually working between five to seven hours a day, five days a week, but it all depends on bookings and the season. I’m always happy to do a double round in one day. Then, it’s a quick freshen-up in the air conditioning, and I’m ready to go again.
Sometimes, if the tips are really uneven on a day out there, the girls and I will split our tips. We’re all doing the same amount of work. One time, I had a guy who told me he had won upwards of $30,000 while gambling the night before. He felt sorry for me being out there — it was 110 degrees out — and he gave me a nice tip.
I’m always the mama bear to golfers, but crazy things do happen
I tell them they have to put sunscreen on their ears because they’re going to burn. People don’t understand that the Vegas sun is different. I make sure they drink a lot of water throughout the round as well, even if they’re drinking beers. I’ve had golfers get so sunburned that I’ve had to take them to the pro shop to get out of the sun.
One time, a guy was feeling unwell, so I drove to the gas station to get Tylenol. If they’re cramping up, I’ll try to get them to eat pickles or drink a bit of pickle juice — the salt always saves the day.
Once, a bachelor party was really toasted, and at the 10th hole, a guy took the cart for a drive and flipped it. He broke his ankle but was drunk and didn’t feel it — he wanted to play on. I grabbed some ice and then got him treatment back in the clubhouse, where they have first aid. Another time, someone teed off and it smashed into the glass on our cart and one of my golfers got glass in their eye.
These aren’t typical experiences, of course. Usually, the greatest danger is driving the cart itself. If you’re driving up a hill and don’t see the bunker, you can sling yourself into it, so it really helps to know the course.
My number one tip for anyone looking to get into caddying is you can’t be shy
You have to be bubbly and quick-witted.
You also need a baseline of golf knowledge. I didn’t have one, so I got my friend who worked at the course to give me a debrief on golf and some lessons. You need to know things like not talking while someone is in their backswing.
Are you a golf-cart girl with a story to tell, or do you have a unique job in the service industry? Email Lauryn Haas at [email protected]