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                                          Have you ever had the chance to caddy? Been part of an organized caddy program? (Or) simply caddied 
                                     for a family member or friend? If you have – you most probably have some fond memories – fun stories –  
                                     and maybe some stories of “not so great” experiences, (or) you may simply remember the importance of that 
                                     cash you put in your pocket! But the question for today is…where have all the caddies gone? (And) where? 
Have all the opportunities to caddy…gone?
   The quick answer is…to the cart barn! With the emergence of golf carts, and more specifically, golf cart rental fees, the wonderful caddy programs of our courses have become a thing of the past. Locally – with a few exceptions – including the very strong caddy programs at Briar Ridge C.C. in Schererville (and) Long Beach C.C. in Michigan City – the use of caddies in our area left with our wooden headed drivers! But, as I hope to explain in this writing, it doesn’t have to be that way!
   If you are under – let’s just say – around the age of sixty (or) sixty plus, you probably don’t remember the time when golf was solely a walking game – and caddies were a highly valued part of our sport – especially if you were a little older and didn’t want to lug around your own equipment. When using tax dollars to purchase land and build golf courses – that golf was not only a great addition to the community (and) a wonderful form of community recreation – but a “healthful form of exercise” for its residents.
   Now today, while many players do certainly walk the course – carrying their own bags or using a pull/push cart; (and) even while riding a golf cart is still a marvelous way to get some exercise/and get outdoors, etc. – the fact is – the true exercise inherent to the game is walking. (And) if you look around your local course – the overwhelming majority of us ride. And golf courses – simply stated – need this cart revenue. It has now been baked into the financial bottom line – without it – green fees would go through the roof – it’s just a fact of life – nothing wrong with it – no one’s fault -but- can we have both?! I do think so! Here’s the how…and…the why!
   So, let’s start with the “how,” followed by the more important – “why.” – How? – It’s not nearly as tough as you may think – and it’s not – (as I hope I can explain) – as “disruptive” – to golf course revenues as one may think, but can be a golf course long-term revenue source. *For this second point of revenue generating, you will need to expand your mind a little.
   I recently had the pleasure to sit down with Mr. Kevin Kissane – the development manager for the Western Golf Association – who operates the men’s & women’s Western Opens, the men’s & women’s Western Amateur and Junior events, and for this writing, most importantly – the “Evans Scholars Foundation.” This is where we need to start.
The Evans Scholars Foundation
   It starts with “Chick” Evans, one of the truly great players of the early 20th century – who – among his other great accomplishments – won, in 1916 – what I like to refer to as the “U.S.” Slam: the Western & U.S. Amateur (and) the Western and U.S. Open titles! A great player indeed. Well, Mr. Evans, who was – and wanted to remain – an amateur – never accepted the monies awarded from any of these events -but- when he was due royalties for his instructional golf recordings and his book, Mr. Evans’ mother suggested he use this money to sponsor a scholarship fund for deserving caddies to further their education, especially caddies who otherwise would not be able to go to college. So, in 1930, in conjunction with the Western Golf Association, the 1st recipients of these scholarships were awarded – and the Evans Scholars Program was on its way.
   I’m going to give you some pretty remarkable facts & statistics about how this has progressed since then – but before I do – just a reminder – here is the “how” answer. How do you start – simple – call the W.G.A. They have a blueprint on how to start a program at your course. Anyone at the W.G.A. can help you…and will!
   So, what has happened since Mother Evans made this suggestion? Approximately 11,000! young men & women, who came from modest income families, have gone on to college – with an astounding 95% graduation rate. These are full rides for (4) years to one of (18) outstanding universities in the U.S., which also includes housing, etc. – great program - *After this, please do further research – it’s hard to cover in this short writing! Anyway, 30% are young girls who caddy; approx. 1,000 of the (280) scholarships awarded annually are currently attending college; and a veritable who’s who of U.S. business leaders, doctors, professors, etc. are counted among the alumni. I could seriously write on and on about the value of this program to our country – but, I must stop or Jon & Steve Chontos will never fit this article in the paper!
   That’s a brief background of where to get started and (who) will help you – their phone # is (847)724-4000 – and they are currently located in Golf, Illinois – ask anyone there – they will definitely show you “how” to get started.
Oh Yea – The “Why”
   I’m going to start with the kids – the potential caddies out there who have never had the opportunity to be around golf – the values it will teach them – the value of working that will make them solid citizens – kids that may never get a chance to go to college. That enough is worth forming a committee – making one phone call. But I also believe there is at least a handful or more people at every course in our region who would like to take a caddy – support a caddy program.
   So, if that is true, and the W.G.A. will spell it out in simple, plain terms, that only leaves (2) questions. #1 – Is it worth it to form a small committee at your course & spend a little of your spare time getting it organized? And the bigger question, #2… If I operate a golf course (*I mentioned earlier in this writing that a course operator may benefit financially by losing cart revenue? How does that work?) I already work long hours at the course – does this guy Pete think I have free time? My answer: Another (2) part-er: #1a – Caddies will end up taking up the game! They will need balls & clubs = their families may come out to thank you and maybe take up the game (as well as) the caddy’s friends. You may get a shop employee of great value out of this pool of caddies – heck, they may run the cart barn for you someday! And #2a – If the committee is formed correctly, they probably will only need you to come to (maybe) a (1) hour monthly meeting after they get rolling – and where do you think that committee should meet? How about at your course – maybe even dinner! at your course!
   All right! I’m done – I don’t feel that I have done total justice to all that is great about the Evans Program – but if (one) course in our area forms a committee (and) if one deserving kid goes to college because of their efforts, then I believe we will all benefit. Give it a shot!
Golf Shots
Around The Tours in March
   The LPGA held (2) events – The HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore – which was won by world #2 Sung Hyun Park of South Korea; (and) the Founders Cup in Phoenix – which honors the greats in the women’s game, who built the tour – won by 2018 LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Jin Young Ko – also from South Korea.
   The PGA Tour Champions also held (2) events in March – The Cologuard Classic, held in Tucson – and won by Mark O’Meara; and the Hoag Classic – where Kirk Triplett won his 7th career title on the senior circuit.
   The Men’s European Tour was busy – holding the Oman Open – where American Kurt Kitayama took home the 1st place prize; The Qatar Masters, which saw South African Justin Harding win for the 1st time on the Euro Tour; (and) in Nairobi, the Kenyan Open was won by (22) year old Guido Migliozi – (also his 1st career win on tour); and closing out March – veteran Scott Hend of Australia won the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – *An event that also saw the great South African player Ernie Els tie for 7th – now giving him the all-time record for top (10’s) worldwide, at (300!) – great man & a great player.
   The U.S. Men’s Tour also held a full slate of events in March – starting off with the (47th) Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – where Keith Mitchell bested them all for his 1st tour title; followed by the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando – where Italy’s Francesco Molinari continued his fine play in winning this coveted event; the following week – (I finally! picked a winner) – Rory McIlroy won his 15th title in the U.S. at the (46th) edition of the Player’s Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; (and) closing out March – England’s Paul Casey successfully defended his title at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.
More Shots
   Just a (few) reminders: If you are not taking advantage of all the new technology available to you – especially with your driver (or) the vast variety of hybrids – you are playing at a disadvantage. Today’s “swords” do indeed help the swordsmen! -So- check out all the new equipment at your local golf shop -or- at one of our fine local golf stores – like Ringo’s Golf Center in Crown Point, or at the (3) scheduled demo days that will be held May 11th, 18th, and the 25th at the beautiful Palmira Golf Course in St. John, Indiana – it’s being sponsored by J&M Golf (also located in St. John) – call J&M for appointments or further info at (219)365-5611.
   Sign-up! Leagues are now forming – get involved this year; the Illiana Tour is starting – call Scherwood G.C. for more info at (219)865-2554; season passes, range & a variety of membership packages are now at low rates – take advantage! And it’s never too early to look into what our region offers in the way of junior golf classes & leagues – ask around; (and) also take advantage of those early bird & spring rates that still apply – stretch those golfing dollars where you can. – One More – it’s very important to call now if you want to book a golf outing or special event at your favorite golf course – dates always fill up fast.
Quick Shots
   The PGA Championship will be played in Farmingdale, New York at the incredibly difficult Bethpage (Black) State Park Golf Course in May, rather than the traditional August dates we are accustomed to – so that means I have to make my “shot in the dark” pick! early this year – My pick at this course? – Dustin Johnson – if he is going to give us all that strength anywhere – I believe it will be there.
   My favorite “non-golfing” pick every year is again being held at Hammond Marina – this family-friendly event is free! (And) it is being held April 13th – call for info – (219)659-7698 – great for the kids – free parking, free refreshments & prizes…and…did I mention it’s free?! – Always a great time – Come out & enjoy.
   Special thanks this month: To – of course – Mike Modrzejewski, who helps every month in getting this article to press – thanks again & always Mike! Thanks to Mr. Tom Weisenbach for helping me with info & my introduction to Mr. Kevin Kissane of the Western Golf Association. (And) a fond thank you (and) so long – to Mr. Ken Nabhan – the builder and long-time owner of the fabulous Duck Creek G.C. in Portage Township. A respected and well loved friend to many in our region – he will be missed.
   (And) if you have a suggestion for a feature article you would like to see covered -or- if you just want to chime in – please contact me at our e-mail address: golfplus3@netzero.com or leave me a voicemail at (219)617-3276, and to read past golf course reviews – or to just visit Golf Plus newspaper online – visit our website at golfplusonline.net.
   Lastly: Caddying has long been defined as simply – “Show up, keep up, and shut up!” – But, as long-time sportswriter and author of many sports related books – Rick Reilly – found out…it’s not quite that simple.
   While doing research for a book, he was writing – (and eventually did get published) – entitled: “Who’s your caddy?”; he asked, (and was allowed) to caddy for the 1973 Masters Champion, Tommy Aaron, during a practice round at the 2001 Masters Championship.
   In his own words from that book… “I think he’d tell you – (referring to Mr. Aaron) – it went quite well, unless you count tiny, little nitpickings, such as my dropping the towel eleven times, the head cover four, the putter cover six, standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, standing in the right place at the wrong time, forgetting to give him his putter, his ball, his driver, being too close to him, being too far from him, letting the clubs clink too much as I walked, letting myself clink too much as I walked” – and…well, you get the point – like most things in life – it’s just not always that easy if you want to do it right!
   See ya next month - Pete

April 2019 – “Where Have All The Caddies Gone?”
by Pete Mandich
GPO Correspondent