Something extra special happened following a meet and greet during the BMW Championship between youth caddies and their PGA Tour counterparts.
So much so, that Adam Hayes – the man who caddies for world No. 6 Jon Rahm – wanted to do something.
Nine PGA Tour caddies – including Hayes – met with 33 kids from a Wisconsin caddie academy last Wednesday at Medinah, where the Tour caddies spent over one hour giving caddie and life advice to the kids. The group was brought in by the Western Golf Association, which runs the BMW Championship and oversees the Evans Scholar Foundation.
WHAT IS THE EVANS SCHOLAR FOUNDATION? The Evans Scholar Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Golf, Illinois that provides full tuition and housing college scholarships to youth caddies. Operated by the Western Golf Association, the Evans Scholars Foundation has helped more than 10,600 caddies graduate from college since its creation in 1930.
“I’ve always been impressed with the Evans Scholar program and what they do for kids,” Hayes told The Caddie Network. “They’ve become successful. We need more programs like that around the country. We had the meet and greet and then that night, I was at the ceremony for Joe LaCava’s Caddie Hall of Fame induction. I was at the one for Bones a couple of years ago, too. I just felt a little touched by it all and wanted to give back.”
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Hayes was so inspired that he made a decision afterward: he would be donating $100 for every birdie and $200 for every eagle Rahm made for the week to donate to the foundation.
To take it a step further, Hayes extended the invitation to several of his fellow caddies to do the same. In all, seven caddies – many wished to remain anonymous – took part in the effort and raised just over $10,000. There was $2,200 from Hayes alone as Rahm finished T5 with 20 birdies and an eagle.
“It wasn’t for individual attention,” Hayes said. “We just wanted to make a donation.”
Word of the caddies’ good deed got the attention of many. BMW, the tournament’s title sponsor, matched the money raised by the caddies, bringing the total to over $20,000.
Players, including Matt Kuchar, also felt compelled to contribute to the effort and Hayes is still awaiting the final tally.
“This was 100 percent Adam’s idea,” said Kuchar’s caddie, John Wood, who also participated. “Adam did all the leg work and got it organized. It turned out great. It was great idea on his part. Once word got out that the caddies were doing something, some of the players, including Kuch, wanted to contribute as well.”
Paul Tesori, longtime caddie for Webb Simpson, was another who participated. His donation was for a flat fee of $1,321… and for a great reason.
EVANS SCHOLAR BRION JOHNSON: From caddie to Chief Investment Officer at The Hartford
The caddies on the @PGATOUR are incredibly appreciative and impressed with The Evans Scholarship Program @WGAESF A bunch of caddies this week in Chicago are giving $100 per birdie. @TesoriFamilyFdt is giving a flat $1,321. pic.twitter.com/QlMOiMQ3K3
— Paul Tesori (@PaulTesori) August 17, 2019
“The donation – in that amount – was made exactly for this reason: so people would ask, ‘why that number?’” Tesori said. “My son, Isaiah, was born with Down Syndrome. For those who don’t know, it’s not a disease, but a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. The more info we can get out there, the better. For that reason, the numbers ‘3-2-1’ have great significance to my family, so I wanted it in there. I wouldn’t change my son for the world, but I’m trying to change the world for my son. I have the 3-2-1 Classic in December to raise money for our Tesori Family Foundation and Down Syndrome. We play in threesomes with only 21 clubs, making it a little harder to be successful.”
There are so many success stories that have come out of the Evans program through the years, including people who got their start as caddies ascending to the top of the business world as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
Ultimately, Hayes said he’d love to get a similar program started up in his own community back home.
“The Evans Foundation is so amazing,” Hayes said. “I don’t know why more communities don’t copy that model. I’d love to copy it in the Charlotte area where I live. I was raised in golf. A lot of these kids have no clue about golf, but the program teaches them the etiquette of golf and the etiquette of life. They might not get that home. They might not have a father at home or a family, period.
“On the course, they can learn those skills that unfortunately aren’t in school anymore,” Hayes added. “Stuff like manners. A big thing at the meet and greet was punctuality, looking people in the eyes, respect – things that kids today are easily forgetting. Networking. This program is helping them communicate and meet successful people. People at country clubs with a caddie have some sort of job where they made right choices along the way to the point that they can afford that membership and take a caddie. It shows these kids that working hard in life pays off and that’s so important. I think it’s an amazing program.”
Like Hayes, Wood and Tesori couldn’t say enough about the program.
“It’s incredible,” Woods said. “It’s gone on for so long. What it does for kids who might not a have the opportunity to go to college because of costs, or finish out because of college debt, is huge. They start at 13-14 years old. They start so young and it’s like a job interview. They get ready to get those life skills. They’re not hired on the spot. It’s a job interview, interviewed by the club to determine if this young boy or girl is someone that can help at the club. Once you’re around guys and women, who want to help you out and can teach you basic life skills – looking people in the eye when you talk, carrying on a conversation, shaking hands – it’s huge. Today with technology, a lot of people don’t know how to do that stuff. The Evans Scholarship sets these kids up for life after college.”
“The program, I think, it speaks for itself,” Tesori said. “Wow. What they have been able to do for young men and women, not only as caddies – which we all are – but going forward as business owners and just valuable members of society and giving them a chance through caddying and learning to serve is awesome. Learning how to serve and encourage others, that’s so valuable and gets missed nowadays in the ‘look at me selfie’ age we live in. What Adam put together last week was easy to get behind.”