Swing Into The Summer Caddie Academy Program

For a special group of high school students, summertime now means a chance at a better life and potentially a free college education.

This is all thanks to the Western Golf Association’s Caddie Academy, which is in the midst of its seventh summer on Chicago’s North Shore. The unique program provides high school students nationwide with the incredible opportunity to caddie at some of the finest clubs in the surrounding area. With more than 90 percent of participants being minorities, the Caddie Academy offers participants a chance to experience the benefits of being a golf caddie – from learning life lessons to being around successful adults – and ultimately a chance to apply for a four-year scholarship.

Program Expands Nationwide

Coming from humble beginnings, the Caddie Academy started its inaugural summer in 2012 with just 12 girls from inner-city Chicago who had never been exposed to the game of golf. Since then, the program has expanded to include students from across the nation.

For seven weeks, participants live together and caddie nearly every day. For six days during the week, caddies wake up at 6 a.m. and are shuttled to one of 14 affiliated golf or country clubs. Once there, participants caddie throughout the day, often completing one or two rounds of golf. The program is fully funded for the students, who get to keep earnings made from caddie rounds.

While the summer is primarily focused on gaining experience on the golf course, the Caddie Academy provides summer programming and weekly guest speakers, including alumni of the program who return to share their success stories. It also provides exposure to a positive work environment.

Those who are completing this summer’s program come from various areas across the country, including Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

Those who are completing this summer’s program come from various areas across the country, including Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. In 2018, a record number of applicants applied to the Caddie Academy. This year’s participants include more than 90 high school-aged girls who all live together at the Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Returning for the second summer, the boys’ Caddie Academy program includes 11 high school-aged boys. The boys reside at the Northwestern University Evans Scholarship House in Evanston, Illinois.

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“With the two biggest caddying barriers being geography and gender, we wanted to create a program designed specifically for young women to learn about caddying who may not have access to golf courses,” said Mike Maher, who oversees the Program. “Since our inaugural summer, we’ve been able to extend our program to young men as well.”

Those who complete three summers of the program become eligible to apply for the  Evans Scholarship, a full, four-year tuition and housing grant to top universities across the country. Supported by the WGA, the Evans Scholarship is awarded to caddies who demonstrate financial need and strong character, as well as outstanding caddie and academic records.

“The Caddie Academy provides a unique opportunity for hardworking young women to be introduced to caddying and the game of golf,” said Frank Morley, WGA chairman. “Their ultimate reward is a chance to earn a full scholarship to college.”

This past year, 965 Evans Scholars were enrolled at 19 universities across the nation. Since its inception, 35Caddie Academy graduates have been awarded the Evans Scholarship. This includes the 12 Caddie Academy participants who received the Evans Scholarship this year and will begin college this fall.

As the Caddie Academy wraps up its seventh season, the WGA is looking forward to expanding the program even further to break down additional barriers in golf while providing life-changing opportunities for more young women and men everywhere.

Via African American Golfers Digest

Photo credit: Women’s Invitational Golf at the Glen Club using Caddy Academy caddy’s on Monday, July 9, 2018 WGA Photo/Charles Cherney.

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