What Is a 'Looper' in Golf?

Explaining the Golf Meanings of Looper, Loop and Looping

A looper, or caddie, and the golfer whose bag he carries
A looper, or caddie, carries the bag for a golfer. Chris Ryan/Caiaimage/Getty Images

In golf, "looper" is another term for a caddie, "loop" is another term for a round of golf and "looping" is another term for caddying.

Looper, meaning caddie, is most commonly used to refer to caddies who work at clubs, resorts or other golf courses where they will carry the bag(s) of amateur and recreational golfers. Those caddies frequently refer to themselves as loopers.

One of golf's most-famous fictional characters, Carl Spackler (played by Bill Murray) in the movie Caddieshack, talked about looping (caddying) for the Dalai Lama:

"So I jump ship in Hong Kong, and I make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over there in the Himalayas. ... A looper, you know, a caddie, a looper, a jock ..."

How Looper Acquired Its Golf Meaning

"Looper" and "looping" referring to caddies and caddying, respectively, derives from the earlier origins of the golf term "loop." In golf, a loop is a round of golf: Play 18 holes, you just played a loop.

But where does that usage come from? In earlier days of golf — going back to the 19th century in Scotland and England — many golf courses were traditional links courses. Traditional links typically follow an "out and back" pattern of arranging the holes. The first nine holes string out from the clubhouse in on direction, then the course turns around and the second nine holes play back toward the clubhouse.

The golf holes loop out and then back in, in other words (this is also why the terms "out" and "in" are used on golf scorecards to denote the front nine and back nine).

Other types of golf courses are designed with loops, too, but more oval in shape: Hole 1 starts at the clubhouse, the holes loop around in an oval or circular style until the ninth hole brings the golfer back to the clubhouse. Hole 10 starts again at the clubhouse and the holes loop around until No. 18 brings the golfer back to the clubhouse.

The jump from "loop" for a round of golf to "looper" for a caddie was simple after that. For example, if a caddie said, "I did two loops today," that meant he carried the bag for one golfer, then, when that round was completed, he went back out again with a second golfer for a second time around the course. Caddies carried golf bags for loops around the golf course, hence, caddies were "loopers."

Key Takeaways: Looper

  • "Looper" is another term for a caddie, a person who carries a golfer's golf bag during a round and assists in decision-making.
  • The term originates in the design of golf courses, with holes that loop out away from the clubhouse and then back toward the clubhouse.