For teenagers, caddying is one of the best opportunities to apply yourself, learn, and even earn an income. And for a select few, it can actually lead to a full college scholarship through the Western Golf Association. But it takes hard work, dedication, and perseverance.
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We are proud to announce that Ace member Thomas Hwang has earned his way to being awarded the Evans Scholarship and will be attending the University of Washington as a freshman in 2020 on a full tuition scholarship!
chasing the dream
Three years ago, Thomas began the pursuit of a college scholarship through caddying, and he never looked back. He knew that if he kept his grades up, stayed involved with volunteer and service opportunities, and made caddying a regular part of his routine, he would have a decent chance of being selected. With his dream in his sights, he created a goal ladder and got to work. Caddying jobs are not easy to come by, however, but fortunately Thomas made a great impression with the membership at Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, where a few members have been committed to supporting the youth caddie program. Early in the morning on weekends, while many of his peers were still fast asleep, Thomas would beat the sunrise to the golf course and be ready for the first rounds of the day. Golfers recognized his work ethic and potential, and Thomas was able to complete more than 60 total caddying rounds in just over two years.
“It is no small accomplishment, and I’m glad to see that Thomas stuck with it. He’s a very deserving young man.” A former Evans Scholar himself, Craig knows what it takes to qualify, and he also knows the opportunity that it can provide. He has long advocated for and supported youth caddying opportunities in our area, as both a founding member of the First Tee of Greater Seattle Board of Directors, member of Sahalee Country Club, and an active Director for the Western Golf Association.
At Glendale Country Club, where Thomas completed all of his rounds, caddying was not always available for teenagers. But in 2017, member and former caddie Dan Hay decided it was time to launch. He worked with Head Professional Kenney Boyd and Assistant Golf Professional Jack Kelly to propose his plan, and contacted First Tee of Greater Seattle with the goal of recruiting the best candidates. To this day, Mr. Hay continues to support each and every caddie individually, and Jack ensures that those opportunities are made available to them. From the beginning they both recognized Thomas’s drive and work ethic. “We teed the ball up, and Thomas hit it right down the middle,” says Dan Hay. “It’s been a pleasure having him caddie for me on many Saturday mornings, and I am proud to see him now going on to college. His future is bright.”
Thomas after his selection meeting, with uncle (left) and First Tee Program Director Evan Johnsen (right).
What is the Evans Scholarship?
The Chick Evans Scholarship for caddies was started by legendary amateur golfer Charles “Chick” Evans Jr. He learned the game as a caddie, won the 1910 Western Open and gained worldwide fame in 1916, when he became the first to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open in the same year. Evans insisted on preserving his amateur status, and any money he received from golf was put toward caddie scholarships. The first two Evans Scholars enrolled at Northwestern University in 1930. Since then, more than 10,800 men and women have graduated from college as Evans Scholars, and 985 are currently in school. The Western Golf Association, founded in 1899, has supported the Evans Scholarship since its inception. The Chick Evans Scholarship for caddies is a grant that covers full tuition and housing in an Evans Scholarship House and may be renewed for up to four years.
Who is eligible for an Evans scholarship?
To be eligible to apply for a Chick Evans Scholarship for caddies, candidates must meet the following requirements:
- Strong caddie record: applicants must have caddied, regularly and successfully, for a minimum of two years and are expected to caddie at their sponsoring club the year they apply for the Scholarship.
- Excellent academics: Applicants must have completed their junior year of high school with above a B average in college preparatory courses and are required to take the ACT and/or SAT.
- Demonstrated financial need: Applicants must clearly have a need for financial assistance.
- Outstanding character: Applicants must be outstanding in character, integrity and leadership. (via WGA Evans Scholarship Foundation)
Thomas’s story, in his own words:
Hi everyone! I’m Thomas Hwang, a First Tee of Greater Seattle participant as well as a Chick Evans Scholar. This experience/adventure of being both a participant and a scholar started back in my summer vacation, where I was transitioning from being a 5th grade elementary school student to a 6th grade middle school student. During this time, I wanted to try every activity/sport to figure out what I liked best. At one point, I was swimming, playing basketball, playing soccer, and playing the violin all at the same time! One day, my mom asked if I wanted to learn how to play golf. At first, I didn’t want to because I only heard of the stereotypes in golf. It’s boring, slow-paced, and only old people want to play golf. But, with enough convincing from my mom, I went to my first summer class with the First Tee. At the first class, the coaches were all so nice and welcoming. We introduced ourselves and then we went on the driving range. The moment I made my first swing and hit the ball, I was hooked. I never felt anything more exciting and thrilling than swinging the club, so I hit ball after ball until I ran out of balls to hit. From that day on, I went to each class, with the mindset of trying to learn as much as I can to reach the highest class level: Ace. Along with learning golf, we learned life skills as well. For instance, we learned an acronym called STAR to help make decisions both on and off the golf course. STAR stands for Stop, Think, Anticipate, and Respond. On the course, it helps you get out of tough situations, like when you’re in the trees or in the deep rough. Off the course, it helps you learn life skills, like how to talk to people or deal with obstacles in life. After a couple of years, I finally made it to Ace. While I was in Ace, Glendale Country Club was thinking about starting a caddying program that would be eligible for the Chick Evans Scholarship. Glendale contacted the Program Director, Evan Johnsen, to see if any juniors were interested in this opportunity. Mr. Johnsen then contacted me, and I officially became a caddy at Glendale. At first, caddying was a little difficult. I knew the etiquettes of playing golf, which helped tremendously, yet I wasn’t quite sure about caddying etiquette. Not to mention carrying a golf bag in the Pacific Northwest weather can be wet, to say the least. But over time, I learned how to caddy properly and picked up tricks here and there (always have a rain jacket in the bag). After about 2 years of caddying, I applied to the Evans Scholarship and I got it! Looking back, the First Tee has given me things I wouldn’t have even dreamed of. I made close friends that I still talk to today, I learned valuable life skills that isn’t taught anywhere else, I learned how to play golf, and I got a scholarship that is/will change my life. I am very thankful for both the First Tee and the Chick Evans Scholarship for the wonderful opportunities and experiences it has given me, and I want to thank you all for reading my experience/adventure with the First Tee and the Evans Scholarship!
Thomas in a Birdie level class in 2015, at Willows Run Golf Complex.
Thomas in his Ace level class in 2019, at Aldarra Golf Club.