Summer of 2017
Elias Patterson will be attending UW-Madison this fall on a Chick Evans Scholarship. Elias is the first graduate of the Caddie & Leadership Academy of SE WI to receive this full tuition/room and board scholarship. We are so proud!
The summer of 2017 was an exciting year for all involved in Caddie & Leadership Academy. We saw our first expansion chapter come to fruition at Brown Deer Park Golf Club in Milwaukee and another year of experience at our Kenosha location, Brightondale Golf Links. Thanks to the WSGA Foundation, WGA/ESF, WI PGA Foundation, Solich Foundation and The Romo Family for their support!
In early June, we finalized the candidate selection process and awarded aprox. 18 students from each location the opportunity to participate in our Caddie & Leadership Academies. As so often is the case, the first couple of weeks of training and caddying experience are filled with shyness, fear of the unknown and lots of mistakes by the candidates. A dedicated group of volunteers gave up valuable weekend time and along with the help of our program directors from each location, Marcus and Steve, we worked to overcome a steep cultural and learning curve to ready these 13-14 year old boys and girls for a summer of caddying. At our Brown Deer Chapter, easily 80% of the candidates selected had never set foot on a golf course. In fact, during a training day, when told about Tiger Woods famous “hello world” hole in one on the 14th hole, one of our female candidates asked; “Who’s Tiger Woods?”. Although some of the candidates caught on quicker than the others, based on the feedback from the patrons at Brown Deer and Brightondale, our caddies and their “mentors” had very enjoyable experiences. The caddies also benefitted greatly from Pat Donegan’s weekly leadership training sessions. Pat was always enthusiastic and dedicated to bringing the best out of our caddies. Thanks to Pat’s tireless training effort and un-bridled enthusiasm , we started with 36 caddies in our program consisting of 13 and 14 year old boys and girls and ended the summer with 36, 13 and 14 year old young men and women!
Other highlights for the summer included a trip to the US Open at Erin Hills by both chapters. The USGA generously provided free passes to the participants and volunteers and helped make the day very memorable! We were greeted by Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation and Matt Ginella of The Golf Channel. The USGA helped co-ordinate a “meet and greet” with our group and Rickie Fowler’s caddie (Joe Skovron) and Phil’s Mickelson’s “ex”- “Bones”.
Young people continue to amaze me with their curiosity and energy. One young man, 13 yr. old Jibreel, who had never set foot on a golf course before, caddied for me during a “training round”. We had a conversation about how caddying can be an excellent way to learn life lessons. He then asked the following question; “Life lessons, did you learn them the hard way or the easy way?” A great question!
Year Two was equally a smashing success!!! The Academy returned to Petrifying Springs and saw ten returning caddies with six new rookies. Along with eight weeks of Caddie Lessons, Leadership Classes, and the occasional game of chess while waiting for a bag, highlights of the summer included an All-Star foursome of former Evans Scholars and our Year-end Caddie Banquet. It always includes caddies discussing how their unique summer has gone.
Our first year at Petrifying Springs was a wonderful success! We started the summer with twenty, 14 and 15yr old boys and girls and ended the summer with twenty young men and women! Nearly half of the caddies had never been on a golf course before and were understandably nervous during their first few loops. With the help of our volunteer board and our enthusiastic director, Marcus Gallo, we were able to calm those fears thru training and instruction, in order to give the golf patrons at Pets an experience that was, described by one golfer, as being like “ playing at a high-end private country club”.
In addition to the life lessons learned thru the daily loops at Pets, the caddies had two separate, special opportunities to learn what golf and caddying are like at the highest of levels.
The first event took place on Wed, July 15th, when The Caddie & Leadership Academy and Petrifying Springs Golf Course welcomed caddie legend Bud Jackson, a longtime caddie from Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters. Bud shared his life story with the candidates from the Caddie & Leadership Academy as well as Kenosha County golfers who attended the event. Everyone attending had the opportunity to meet Bud, participate in the Q&A session and look at some incredible memorabilia Bud brought with him from Augusta. Bud has been a caddie at Augusta National for over fifty years and most recently caddied for Ben Crenshaw this past April during Ben’s last round at The Masters. Bud, one of nine children, shared his story on how caddying taught him the life lessons to overcome poverty, meet and caddie for U S Presidents, and caddie for some of the most influential people in the world. Bud has, on numerous occasions, been named the Caddie of the Year at Augusta National. The event was held at the Pets clubhouse.
The next special event took place on August 11th during The PGA Championship held at Whistling Straits in Kohler, WI. Thru the generosity of the PGA of America, the benefactors of the Academy and the PGA Tours Caddie Association, we were able to bring the caddies from this summer’s program along with some parents and candidates for next summer’s program to Whistling Straits. The caddies were able to walk the golf course, get autographs from the players and experience the electric environment of a major golf championship played on one of the most scenic and challenging golf courses in the world! The highlight of the day for the Academy’s caddies was having a private “meet and greet” with some PGA Tour caddies on the practice range at Whistling Straits. Participating caddies from the tour included Joey LaCava (Tiger Woods), Lance Bennet (Matt Kuchar), Joe Skovron (Rickie Fowler), Adam Hayes (Russell Henley), James Edmondson (Ryan Palmer) Tim Butler (David Lingmerth), Brian Reed (Martin Laird), Jimmy Johnson (Steve Stricker & Justin Thomas), Kenny Harms (Kevin Na), Matt Minister (Sang Moon Bae) and Scott Sajtinac (Troy Merritt).