Sending deserving Caddies to College since 1930
By Tom LaMarre
The Evans Scholars Foundation, based in Glenview, Ill., is one of the outstanding organizations in the golf world, providing full college scholarships to devoted young caddies whose families don’t have the financial means to allow them to extend their education.
Famed amateur golfer Charles “Chick” Evans Jr. came up with the idea for the Foundation in 1928 and persuaded the Western Golf Administration to administer the fund he had established that sent deserving young caddies to college.
The WGA awarded its first two scholarships in 1930, sending caddies Harold Fink and Jim McGinnis to Northwestern University. Until World War II, all Evans Scholars continued to attend Northwestern, and it was there that the first Scholarship House was established.
As the Evans Scholars Foundation grew, WGA Directors realized the impact of Chick Evans’ dream on the lives of young men and women with limited access to a college education, so when Evans’ original investment was exhausted, the WGA Directors perpetuated the Evans Scholars Program by making contributions of their own.
These days, the Foundation is funded by contributions from Par Club members across the country and the WGA has remained involved over the years, as proceeds from its tournament contribute to the scholarship fund.
The Evans Scholars Foundation provides scholarship recipients with academic, professional and social resources, and its students maintain a cumulative 3.4 grade-point-average and a 95 percent college graduation rate. Currently, there are a record 1,070 Evans Scholars enrolled in 22 leading universities in the U.S. for the 2022-23 academic year, and 11,815 young men and women have graduated as Evans Scholars since 1930.
“These young students have each shown excellence in the classroom, in their communities and on the golf course,” said John Kaczkowski, WGA President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud to welcome them to the Evans Scholars family.”
In 2022, a record 315 students were awarded the Evans Scholarship. Recipients were interviewed at one of more than 20 selection meetings across the country, from November through March. They will begin college as Evans Scholars this fall, attending one of 22 leading universities across the nation.
The Evans Scholarship is valued at more than $120,000 over four years.“These young men and women are part of an exceptional incoming class of New Scholars from around the nation,” WGA Chairman Joe Desch said. “They represent what the Evans Scholars Program has been about since 1930.”
The Western Golf Association conducts championships for professional and amateur golfers, promotes the use of caddies and supports the Evans Scholars Foundation’s efforts to award full tuition and housing college scholarships to hardworking caddies with limited financial means.
The WGA was founded in 1899, when 11 Chicago-area golf clubs formed the organization to promote its interests in golf, establishing headquarters in a town known as Golf, Ill. The WGA held its first Western Open and Western Amateur championships at nearby Glen View Club to showcase the exceptional talent of golfers who called the West their home, as there was a bit of a rivalry with the East.
Currently, the WGA conducts four amateur championships–the Western Amateur, Western Junior, Women’s Western Amateur and Women’s Western Junior–and two professional events: the Old National Bank on the Korn Ferry Tour, and the BMW Championship, the penultimate event of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Charles “Chick” Evans Jr. was born on July 18, 1890, and his family moved to Chicago in 1893. Five years later, he began caddying and playing golf at Edgewater Golf Club. Evans developed into the top amateur golfer in the United States in 1916, when he captured the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur. No other golfer had yet won both championships in the same year, and the only golfer to do it since was the legendary Bobby Jones.
Although Evans was under outside pressure to turn pro, he resisted but wasn’t interested and instead placed any earnings from his golf into an escrow fund. It was from there that he financed the Evans Scholarship Foundation, and his mother, Lena, helped Chick with the plan to use the money to provide scholarship money for young caddies.
In 1928, he persuaded the WGA to oversee his fund, and in 1930, those first two Evans Scholarships were awarded, and things have really taken off since the Murray brothers, Bill and Ed, publicized the concept of the caddie scholarship in their classic film, Caddyshack. The caddie scholarship they refer to in the film is based on the real Evans Scholarship earned by Ed Murray.