Earlier this week at Medinah Country Club’s driving range, a handful of Tour caddies spent just over an hour giving caddie and life advice to kids from The Caddie & Leadership Academy of Southeast Wisconsin.
Thirty-three kids from the academy made the more than hour-long drive south into Chicago to attend the meet and greet and were either Junior Caddies (first-year freshmen in high school) or Senior Caddies (sophomores who are charged with helping the Junior Caddies in their first year).
Many of the high schoolers come from low income backgrounds and the academy gets them involved in leadership by attending an hour-long leadership workshop once a week and helps them get started in looping with opportunities at local courses in Southeast Wisconsin.
“It was a fun afternoon, it was great” said Joe LaCava, caddie for Tiger Woods. “The kids were nervous, obviously, but all good kids and sharp kids.”
The young caddies make $33 per loop, paid for by the organization. Many of the places you may be familiar with.
Brown Deer Park Golf Course where Woods made his Tour debut at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, Meadowbrook Country Club (where Tony Romo and his father are minority owners), and Westmoor Country Club.
The overall goal for these kids is after their first two years, if they enjoy caddying enough and make the more than 50 loops required, they would find a regular country club to loop at for their final two years of high school, and in this process apply to be an Evans Scholar.
This week at The BMW Championship the Western Golf Association (which runs the BMW Championship) is always celebrating Evans Scholars.
On Monday night at Medinah, the Evans Scholars Foundation celebrated sending a record 1,010 Evans Scholars to 18 top universities this fall.
On Wednesday, nine Tour caddies attended the Caddie & Leadership Academy’s meet and greet. They included Justin York (Chez Reavie’s caddie), Joe Skovron (Rickie Fowler), Austin Johnson (Dustin Johnson), LaCava, Chad Reynolds (Keegan Bradley), Adam Hayes (Jon Rahm), Nick Jones (Charles Howell III), Dale Vallely (Abraham Ancer) and Brennan Little (Gary Woodland).
So, what was the overall group advice from the Tour caddies assembled Wednesday?
“We told them working hard is important, looking somebody in the eye and a firm handshake and stuff like that are key,” LaCava said.
As for LaCava’s direct advice to the high school caddies, he kept things simple and easy for them to remember.
“I just preached to them that hustling is a big deal — in anything — but certainly in caddying,” LaCava said. “You want to be out in front of your golfer cleaning the clubs, and being ready. Go the extra mile, that kind of thing.”
Moments like this are what makes golf such a great game 💯 pic.twitter.com/dSPlcFjYyF
— George Savaricas (@GeorgeSavaricas) August 15, 2019
Other Tour caddies stressed the importance of doing something in life that you love and that you’re passionate about.
Skovron had done this in the past at the BMW Championship, just like LaCava.
“It’s pretty basic stuff (we tell them) — this is what will make you successful at caddying and this is what will transfer to real life,” Skovron said. “(It’s about) people you meet, the things that you experience, and making connections with the members and learning stuff from them.”
For Little, Wednesday was a rewarding experience and a meet and greet that he helped rally some of the Tour caddies to get to this week.
“I love it, I just love helping kids anyways, I do some work for the Boys & Girls Club back home in Dallas so it was great to be out there (Wednesday),” Little said. “It was about life lessons, we talked about discipline and not quitting, being disciplined at your work. Be excited about what you do, whether you’re a plumber, a schoolteacher, don’t do something for money. So everybody kind of chipped in with their experience which was good, as opposed to some caddie telling all of these stories.”
For one the group’s leaders, Patrick Donegan (Director of Leadership Development), the event served as a valuable experience for the young caddies.
“It was a very unique opportunity for the kids,” Donegan said. “Most of our caddies come from financial need families. Getting to learn from and ask questions of the top tour caddies in the world was eye opening.”