What They’re Playing For: The Evans Scholarship

Championship golf champions a cause

Energy entrepreneur and BMW Championship General Chairman George Solich claims the Evans Scholarship “really changed the total course of my life.” So do John Deere CEO Sam Allen, radio personality and attorney Dan Caplis, Kimberly-Clark CEO Tom Falk and Carlyle Group Operating Executive Mary Petrovich.These business leaders represent some of the 9,800 alumni of the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship Program, which began by awarding two scholarships in 1930 and now ranks as the nation’s largest scholarship program for golf caddies. More than 840 deserving caddies across the country currently attend 19 universities as Evans Scholars. Established by famed amateur golfer Charles “Chick” Evans, Jr., the program provides full housing and tuition, with deserving students receiving $12.7 million during the 2013- 2014 academic year. To date the program has awarded $305 million in scholarships.

The Western Golf Association administers the Evans Scholarship foundation, and also manages the BMW Championship, a premier TOUR event that until 2007 was known as the Western Open. The BMW is one of only four tournaments on the PGA TOUR schedule with one beneficiary. All tournament proceeds benefit the Evans Scholarship Foundation, giving students educational opportunities and connections. Over 92 percent of Evans scholars graduate and several have bloomed into top executives and directors in the workforce.

Among them are Solich (pictured below) and his older brother Geoff. They so valued their Evans scholarships at the University of Colorado— and the caddie experiences that supported them—that they formed the Solich Caddie and Leadership Academy at CommonGround Golf Course in 2012.

Here are some other local highlights.

Ed Mate
Executive Director, Colorado Golf Association
University of Colorado, 1988

“I am so thankful I got involved with caddying at Denver Country Club because it taught me discipline and respect toward others. Caddying is about serving others and to enhance the golfer’s round. Without the Evans Scholarship, college wouldn’t have been possible. I am forever grateful to have been awarded the scholarship because it allowed me to focus on school, instead of worrying about finances. Today, it has opened up doors for me to continue a career in the golf profession.”

Kevin Laura
CEO, First Tee of Green Valley Ranch and Colorado Open Foundation
University of Colorado, 1985

“Caddying at Valley Hi Golf Course in Colorado Springs allowed me to get involved in golf at an early age. I started playing golf around six years old, but really learned to respect the values of the game when I began caddying at 12. Receiving the Evans Scholarship made it possible to go to a great university like CU. Living in the Eisenhower house introduced me to 40 brothers and sisters. It taught me to be a responsible housemate and led the way to a great first job as Caddie Master at Castle Pines Country Club.”

Ryan Pellet
Senior Vice President at Nexidia

University of Colorado, 1995

“Golf tests integrity, focus, strategy, how to learn from and move on, social skills, generosity, and even humility. Caddying granted me access to people who had mastered a lot of these things both professionally and on the golf course. The Evans Scholars Houses are unlike any other collegiate scholarship or program. From the first day, you live with a family of other Evans Scholars peers that are interested in your successful transition to college. There’s a longstanding tradition of support to make sure your peers take full advantage of the opportunity. The Evans Scholarship welcomes you into a lifelong family. The alumni continue to look out for each other.”

Jeremy Stroiman
Chief Executive Officer Evans Senior Investments (Boulder)

Indiana University, 2003

“Receiving the Evans Scholarship was everything. Due to financial restraints, I wouldn’t have been able to attend college without the scholarship. My mother had my twin brother and me when she was 20 years old and raised us solo. I remember to this day the time she came home from work and told us she learned a way for us to go to college. We started caddying that summer. The scholarship impacted us so much that we named our company after the scholarship. Everything we have been blessed to have in life is a result of the scholarship: education, friends, family (my wife is an Evans Scholar), and business.”

Jay Reseigh
Executive Director at Ernst & Young

University of Colorado, 1998

“Caddying introduced me to hard work at a young age. Those early mornings on the course taught me when and how to converse with a variety of leaders and senior executives, which later became guidance counselors for school and future careers. One of my best friends and lifelong mentors was an Evans Scholar. He helped me land my first job, has always made time to help me think through critical career decisions, and has provided an abundant number of lessons learned over the years. I have always felt a significant debt of gratitude to everyone who helped me receive the scholarship. The drive not to let those people down helped push me through school and ultimately shaped my career. Today, I make it a priority to assist the Evans Scholarship Foundation in any way possible.”

Tom Woodard
Director of Foothills Golf

University of Colorado, 1978

“I grew up in a family of seven. At first caddying allowed me to earn some money. But then I realized I was caddying for regulars who were great players, including City Park’s club pro. I knew from that point on, I wanted to become a golf professional. The Evans Scholarship really fell in place for me. Instead of hearing about it and working toward the requirements, I had already completed all of the criteria prior to knowing what the Evans Scholarship was. I am forever grateful for the scholarship; it gave me everything later in life. I had the opportunity to play four years on CU’s golf team with a full ride (which is rare to receive in men’s golf ) and I had a home away from home living in the Eisenhower- Evans house. Academically, I decided to major in business with a focus in marketing because I thought it was the closest thing to managing golf courses. My education prepared me for life.”

Asni Solomon
Sophomore, University of Colorado

“Being a caddie requires you to acquire skills that are essential to your life later down the road—respecting authority, hard work, perseverance and communicating effectively with others. I was able to learn how to communicate with others in a respectful setting and work with peers around me to develop teamwork skills. I hope the Evans Scholarship will instill me the ultimate message that hard work and dedication pays off, and furthermore, that hard work does not end once you receive a full ride scholarship. Whether as a caddie on the golf course or a full time college student juggling work and school, perseverance and dedication are valuable skills that will always follow me, especially as I pursue my dream of attending medical school and becoming a pediatrician.”

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Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.

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