Lydia Ko is one of the most successful golfers in the world, but she is also known for frequently changing her caddies. Since turning professional in 2013, Ko has had 13 different caddies on her bag, some of whom lasted only a few tournaments. How many of them have helped Ko, and what impact has the frequent switching had on her performance?
The list started with Michael Henderson, who was followed by Scott Lubin, Mark Wallington, Steve Kay, Domingo Jojola, Mike “Fluff” Cowan, Greg Johnson, Jason Hamilton, Gary Matthews, Peter Godfrey, Jonny Scott, Derek Kistler, and David Jones, who currently looks after her equipment. Jones worked with Lydia Ko back in 2021 when she won the Lotte Championship.
What happened with Lydia Ko and her caddies?
Lydia Ko’s caddie changes have been a source of speculation and criticism in the golf world. Some observers have suggested that Ko is too influenced by her parents or other advisors, who may pressure her to make changes when things are not going well. Others have argued that Ko is simply looking for the best fit for her game and personality, and that she has the right to choose whoever she wants to work with.
The truth is, Ko tends to be very volatile with her caddies. Her rookie year saw her with no less than seven caddies (Henderson, Lubin, Wallington, Kay, Jojola, Cowan, and Johnson). Since then, no caddie has lasted more than two years with her.
Some of Lydia Ko’s caddie changes have been controversial or surprising, such as when she fired Gary Matthews after finishing second at the Lotte Championship in 2017. Or, more recently, when she parted ways with Derek Kistler after winning the CME Group Tour Championship and reclaiming the World No. 1 ranking in 2022.
Ko herself has not given a clear explanation for her frequent caddie changes, but she has said that she values communication and chemistry with her caddies. She has also praised some of her former caddies for their contributions to her success, such as Jason Hamilton, who was with her for 10 of her 15 LPGA Tour wins.
Some of her former caddies have expressed frustration or disappointment with how they were treated by Ko or her team, such as Matthews, who told Golf World that Ko needed to “wake up” on caddie-player relationships.
What impact has so many changes had on her performance?
The impact Ko’s caddie changes on her performance is hard to measure, but it seems that she has not suffered too much from them. She has won at least one tournament every year since 2013, except for 2018 and 2019, when she struggled with injuries and swing changes. She has also maintained a high level of consistency and competitiveness, finishing in the top 10 in more than 40% of her career starts on the LPGA Tour.