Realizing a college dream through the ‘Youth on Course’ caddie program
Chingun Baatar is a 20-year-old sophomore at Washington D.C.’s American University and – at such a young age – is already an incredible inspiration.
Baatar is the oldest of four children and was raised in Mongolia before his family immigrated to the United States in hopes of starting a new, better life.
“The transition for me adjusting to a new life in a different country brought up mixed feelings because the hardest part was learning the language,” Baatar told The Caddie Network. “My only experience with English was in the western movies I would play for me and my brothers. But I pushed myself and taught myself and my brothers.”
Baatar’s path to college was aided greatly when he found “Youth on Course,” an organization that – along with providing access to affordable play for kids – offers deserving high school seniors (those who are enrolled as full-time students in an accredited high school, and have a minimum 3.0 GPA) work experience through its internship and caddie programs at no cost to the course.
Baatar found Youth on Course as a ninth grader when he was looking for a job to start saving money for college.
“I became a caddie totally by accident,” he said. “One day, I was talking to my friend about summer jobs and he mentioned that he was a caddie with Youth on Course. At that time, I had no idea what a caddie was. He asked me to come with him after school and see, and so I said, ‘sure.’ Once we got there, I was surprised by the vast empty green fields. But thinking back now, I’m amazed how that one conversation had such a profound effect on my life.”
Quickly, Baatar went from no golf background or experience at all to ultimately – through caddying – becoming the recipient of a Youth on Course Scholarship to help with college expenses.
Since the inception of the Youth on Course Scholarship Program in 2008, the organization has awarded over $2 million total to 262 high school seniors to support their pursuit of higher education, many of which have become the first in their family to attend college.
“The entire experience changed my life,” Baatar said. “Youth on Course introduced me to the greatest game. I started as a caddie at Claremont Country Club. Throughout my years, I have caddied at various prestigious clubs in the Bay Area and I have met the greatest people that influenced some of my life. The game of golf is one that not many people can afford, and I couldn’t afford to play golf. But, being part of Youth on Course means I have opportunities. I was able to practice and take lessons through First Tee and without Youth on Course and First Tee, I wouldn’t be able to experience any of this.”
In Baatar’s short career as a caddie, he’s already rubbed elbows with some very successful people: business leaders, lawyers and even Klay Thompson and Damion Lee from the Golden State Warriors.
“I’ve met so many successful people and I was able to connect with them and share thoughts,” he said. “But most importantly, Youth on Course has given me the opportunity to continue my education without thinking about college debt.”
Based on his own experience, Baatar said he encourages anyone who has the opportunity to join Youth on Course to go for it.
“Just do it,” he said. “It’s a life-changing opportunity. Throughout my time with Youth On Course, I developed life skills and met the greatest people, including celebrities. I was also able to save up for college at the beginning of ninth grade. So, if you are thinking about getting involved with Youth on Course, please do it.
“I especially cherish the morning walks with my golfers, which greatly improved my communication skills,” he added. “I also developed good work habits and confidence. During that time, I was still learning English and I was a little bit shy communicating with my players, but over time I talked about everything with my players. It gave me confidence and greatly improved communication skills.”
Youth on Course started in Northern California in 2006 and now serves more than 100,000 members in 37 states who have access to play golf at more than 1,400 courses across the U.S. and Canada.