This isn't apart of my normal road to championship stuff, but just something I thought about a lot in the Kuchar caddy payment thread.
Part of the Kuchar issue is what role the caddy actually played, in his win. But, it begs the larger question of what does a caddy really do for a Tour player?
Besides the normal role of carrying a bag and raking bunkers, etc., a caddy is, imo, in essence a GPS for the player, a support person, and sometimes a coach. Not that the player can't get the info on their own or that they don't already. But, a player does not make it to the PGA Tour because of a caddy. Many of these guys played in college without caddies. They were already top athletes before they decided to hire an extra hand. They made or bought their own yardage books and marked them up with notes during practice rounds, they found their own yardages, they decided what shots to play throughout the round, they played through any emotional stress, etc, all without a caddy to get to where they are.
I said before that a caddy is like a GPS. Well, GPS's should be able to speed up pace of play. A player using a caddy should be able to make decisions faster, and I think this is true most of the time. But I'm sure there are cases where the caddy second guesses the player and then they sit there for 5min debating what idea is best. The real question, I think, is how many strokes is gained purely for a caddy helping by way of being a GPS? I'd say it's a pretty small number and definitely not a stroke per round, because all the info given is something the player can already do for themselves and pace of play is laughable on tour.
Another part that a caddy helps with is emotion / mental support. Especially for newer players on Tour who may have a lot of jitters, having a support person to keep the noise (distractions like all the bill boards with their name, pic and stats, all the people or audible noises, and then the typical noise like bunkers or hazards to try and ignore) in check can mean something. Keep you focused on the game when needed and not the emotions that come with the game. After a bad shot or maybe in between shots, distracting the player to make them feel more content. A player doesn't want to be on overdrive or pissed, there's a middle ground where the best golf can be played and having a caddy to help keep you there can save one from a stupid decision or rushed swing. Again, how many strokes can be gained from having a caddy for emotional / mental support? I'd say it's definitely higher than the GPS caddy, but still not a lot.
The last part a caddy could help with is by being a coach. This could go either way as for how helpful it is. No one should really be trying to change their swing or routine in the middle of a round as it usually creates more problems than it solves. But like in the case of Holmes in the final round this last weekend, the caddy actually helped adjust his set up with his driver in the middle of the round, and he seemed to hit the ball a bit better after that. It's hard to assign a value here to potential strokes gained, because I don't think it's very common. I could be wrong. Either way, most players, I'd assume, have some sort of back up plan should their swing go haywire, so having a caddy there for this purpose may not be needed.
As far as the local caddy vs normal caddy topic, from my own experience at Pinehurst #2, the caddy that was given to our group supposedly knew every crevasse and slope but routinely mis-read breaks on the greens. Maybe he was doing a half-assed job intentionally or maybe he really didn't know the course. Either way, he didn't help for being a GPS caddy (because of having a yardage book and rangefinder) and he definitely didn't help for being a support or mental help caddy. My experience is just one example but a local caddy is unlikely to provide any emotional support to anyone unless they know each other, but may help as far as a GPS caddy. For Kuchar's case, he played/walked the course before marking all his notes, etc. I doubt he needed the caddy for helping with GPS-like stuff, and because the two didn't know each other, the caddy wasn't really a support person. He definitely filled the role of carrying a bag and raking bunkers, but there likely wasn't more to it than that.
So, what is a caddy worth? Is it worth paying a few thousand dollars a round for the potential stroke(s) gained on the field? I doubt it's a physical issue because those guys could just as easily carry their own super light bag with a few balls, etc (or I assume push carts are acceptable, just frowned upon). Unless you hire a local caddy, you'd have to pay someone a livable wage for them to constantly travel with you. Or maybe it's not about the golf at all, it's about traveling with someone instead of being bored outside of playing. I don't know. Either way, I think caddies play a minimal role in the performance of the player.