If they want to be successful, golf caddies are required to be prepared for every element: rain, blistering heat, early mornings and vying against other caddies to be selected by a golfer headed out for a round.
Jack Voves, Aidan McGuire and Chris Neary have been successful in that endeavor for several years, and they were recently honored with a prestigious scholarship sought by local high school students who work as caddies.
The three local residents and Br. Rice High School seniors are caddies at Beverly Country Club, and in December they were announced as winners of a Chick Evans Scholarship.
Named after Chicago amateur golfer Chick Evans Jr., the scholarship was first presented in 1930. It is now awarded to over 800 caddies each year, providing full college tuition and housing grants from the Western Golf Association Evans Scholars Foundation.
Applicants must have caddied for at least two years, completed their junior year of high school with an above-B average, demonstrated financial need and shown outstanding character, integrity and leadership.
The new winners are still coming to grips with their achievement.
“It feels too good to be true,” Voves said. “It’s so amazing that I got it. It hasn’t hit me yet. … It’s kind of hard to take it all in.”
The winners completed interviews and were notified about a week later.
Voves, of Beverly, has caddied for five years. He had hoped to start sooner, but, even though he applied for the job wearing a suit and tie, he was turned away because he was too young.
He didn’t know about the Evans Scholarship when he started caddying in the spring of 2014.
He noticed other caddies wearing a pin on their bibs celebrating the honor, and they informed him of its meaning.
He knew immediately that he wanted to be a Chick Evans Scholar.
“I was just in awe,” Voves said. “From that day on, I was like, ‘I’m going to get this thing.’ … I didn’t really stop. I haven’t stopped.”
Voves, a St. Barnabas Elementary School graduate, caddies year round. Golfers will contact him in winter months when the weather allows for a round, and he works early mornings in the summer.
He has “regulars,” but he likes meeting new golfers.
“That’s just always fun for me,” Voves said. “I like making connections, meeting new people. I’ve always just enjoyed that.”
After McGuire was informed that he earned the scholarship, the Mt. Greenwood resident looked ahead to the future with a smile on his face. He has finished his fifth year of caddying, and he said the scholarship will make college life much easier.
“It was a sense of excitement and just relief,” McGuire said. “Knowing that your next four years of college are paid for—you have nothing to worry about coming out of college; you don’t have any debt, so you can start saving right away. It didn’t really hit me at first. It was a really overwhelming experience. I never thought it would be that overwhelming.”
McGuire, a Queen of Martyrs Elementary School graduate, figured he would try to find a job that involved one of his interests. Caddying was up to par.
“I’ve always liked the game of golf,” McGuire said. “I figured having a job being around something I like so much would suit me best. Having a job that you really enjoy doing, it kind of makes the time fly a little bit quicker.”
Caddying, he said, has taught him several life lessons, including the importance of a strong work ethic and good social skills. He’s learned how to interact with golfers, giving them the proper amount of personal space on the golf course as they focus on their game.
He also learned that he had to pay his dues as a young caddy, waiting his turn while older caddies were selected by golfers.
“It’s taught me patience,” McGuire said. “I’m there at 5:45 every morning trying to get that first [round] in.”
Neary, of Morgan Park, has caddied for four years. Some of his best friends tried it, but he stuck with it.
Neary, a St. Cajetan Elementary School graduate, said he recognized in his junior year that the scholarship provides “an amazing opportunity.” So, he put himself in a mindset to earn it.
“I worked all summer the past two years toward this,” Neary said. “It was amazing opening that letter saying, ‘Congratulations! You are an Evans Scholar.’ It means a lot to my family and me.”
Some days on the course can be “brutal,” Neary said, when temperatures reach 100 degrees and there’s no shade. However, the benefits he’s derived from being a caddy outweigh any negatives.
Besides earning college tuition, Neary made new friends while working at Beverly Country Club.
“Some of my best friends,” Neary said, “have been from caddying.”
Neither of the three winners has decided on a college yet, but several Midwestern schools are among their final choices.
Nearly 11,000 students have been named Evans Scholars over the decades.