Joe LaCava, Steve Williams, More
There are three men who’ve primarily served as caddies for Tiger Woods throughout the golf legend’s career as a professional golfer, including his current caddie, Joe LaCava. Woods’ three regular caddies in his career to date are:
- Mike “Fluff” Cowan: Fluff Cowan was hired by Woods as caddie right at the beginning of Woods’ professional career. Cowan caddied for Woods from his pro debut at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open through the 1999 Nissan Open.
- Steve Williams: After Woods dismissed Cowan, he hired Steve Williams as caddie. Woods’ swing coach at the time, Butch Harmon, asked Williams during the 1999 Doral Ryder Open if he was interested in caddying for Woods. Williams interviewed with Woods (who wasn’t playing Doral) shortly after and got the job. Williams’ first tournament as Woods’ caddie was the 1999 Bay Hill Invitational and they remained together through mid-2011, when Woods announced their split.
- Joe LaCava: LaCava replaced Williams on Woods’ bag, his first tournament on the job being the 2011 Frys.com Open.
Joe LaCava Is Currently Woods’ Caddie
LaCava has been on Woods’ bag since 2011, which makes him Woods’ second-longest-serving caddie to date. But for significant chunks of that time, due to Woods’ litany of injuries since then, LaCava didn’t have much to do.
LaCava was part of Woods’ 2013 Player of the Year Award-winning season, however, in which Woods won five PGA Tour tournaments. And LaCava is part of Woods’ comeback season in 2021. At one point during one of Woods’ prolonged absences from tour, he offered LaCava the chance to leave for a younger, up-and-coming PGA Tour golfer, but LaCava stuck by Woods.
LaCava was well-known to golf fans before hooking up with Woods: He spent two decades as Fred Couples’ caddie, and caddied for Couples during his 1992 Masters victory. LaCava also worked for Dustin Johnson during the 2011 PGA Tour season, before switching to Woods.
How Much Money Does Tiger Woods’ Caddie Earn?
The details of LaCava’s earnings with Woods are not public. But LaCava has a contract with Woods. Standard caddie pay with PGA Tour players is that caddies receive 10-percent of the player’s earnings for a victory, and a slightly smaller percentage (on a sliding scale based on finish position) in other tournaments. Many caddies—those that are fixtures with a player, and who have a contract—also receive flat, per-tournament fees that can reach into the thousands of dollars.
While the specifics of LaCava’s compensation agreement with Woods are not known, be assured LaCava’s deal is a generous one. The rates and fees he collects from Team Woods are on the high end of the PGA Tour caddie range. When Woods won eight tournaments during 2012-13, LaCava most likely, according to an ESPN report, earned more than $1 million.
And, because he is one of the most high-profile caddies working for the highest-profiile golfer, LaCava also has endorsement deals believed to be worth into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Woods’ First Two Caddies: Fluff Cowan and Steve Williams
Cowan had previously caddied for Peter Jacobsen for more than 20 years, but Jacobsen was laid up with a back injury at the time Tiger turned pro in 1996. So joining Woods was an easy decision for Fluff. Why was he fired? Neither Tiger nor Fluff have ever given a direct answer, but the rumors at the time centered on Woods being displeased that Cowan was giving interviews about their relationship; and on some speculation that Cowan had tailed off a bit on his preparation, mis-clubbing Tiger a few too many times.
After getting fired by Woods, Fluff had no trouble finding another bag: He’s caddied for Jim Furyk ever since, and remains one of the most-recognizable caddies on tour.
Williams had previously caddied for Peter Thomson, Ian Baker-Finch, Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd before joining Woods. He was working for Floyd in 1999 when he left to join Woods.
The relationship of Woods and Williams was not without bumps over their years together; Tiger has occasionally publicly called out alleged mistakes by Williams, and there were a couple times when rumors of a split appeared. But they also were acknowledged to be close friends off the course, and Woods was Williams’ best man at Williams’ wedding.
Williams said Woods informed him of Williams’ dismissal at the 2011 AT&T National, although Woods did not publicly announce the split until July 20, 2011. The last tournament they worked together was the 2011 Players Championship, from which Woods withdrew after only nine holes.
Other Caddies Used By Woods
Woods has used a couple other caddies through the years as fill-ins. When Williams was at home with his wife, who was due to give birth, during the 2007 Presidents Cup, Woods used Billy Foster (usually Darren Clarke’s caddie) and his caddie for the event.
And Woods’ childhood friend Bryon Bell has also filled in a few times over the years, including in the aftermath of Woods’ dismissal of Williams and before LaCava joined the team.