At the Western Golf Association/Evans Scholars Foundation, we change lives—on golf courses, in classrooms, and in communities. Our world-class amateur and professional golf events enable us to provide deserving caddies with transformational college educational experiences that go well beyond full tuition and housing scholarships. In doing so, we prepare young people to become leaders who give back so that others may follow.
The Western Golf Association and Evans Scholars Foundation did more than just stay the course during the most challenging year in our history – we emerged stronger than ever.
Even as our Scholarship Houses and headquarters closed – and dozens of our events and two championships were canceled – we remained resilient. In 2020, we awarded a record number of Evans Scholarships, realized a new university partnership and went public with The Promise Campaign. We also unveiled an ambitious new strategic plan that will guide us to 2030.
We are grateful for the support shown by our 33,500 supporters who heped us navigate this difficult year. Your unwavering faith in our mission allows us to carry on the important work we do sending caddies to college. Thank you.
President and CEO
Chairman of the Board
Our Evans Scholars learned how to power through a pandemic.
The pandemic forced our Scholars to adapt under difficult circumstances. They posted a cumulative 3.4 GPA, the highest in the Program’s history. In a year when we welcomed a record 285 new Scholars, our young men and women at universities nationwide proved their resilience.
Hannah picked up her first golf club when she was 8. Growing up with two older brothers, her life revolved around sports.
A standout high school student and athlete, Hannah earned high honor caddie status and, ultimately, the Evans Scholarship.
Without the Scholarship, Hannah says she would have taken on significant student debt to avoid hardship for her family – particularly after the sudden loss of her mother to a heart attack.
At Purdue, Hannah is majoring in biomedical engineering. When the pandemic hit, her first remote learning assignment was to design a COVID-19 test.
“Talk about relevant,” she says. “We were working on the same thing in real time as scientists all over the world.”
The pandemic also provided important lessons in the Scholarship House. As president of the chapter, Hannah helped keep Scholars safe and on course throughout quarantines, shutdowns and the new norm of virtual learning.
“As leaders on campus, Evans Scholars have a responsibility to prove themselves during this pandemic and thrive,” Hannah says.
Prestwick Country Club, Frankfort,
IL Junior, Purdue University
2020 at a glance
There are 1,045 Evans Scholars at 19 universities. Nearly half come from homes with a household income of less than $70,000.
Erin Cronin was named the 2020 Evans Scholar of the Year after graduating from Miami University with a 3.9 GPA.
Evans Scholars at Notre Dame and Michigan achieved a 3.7 GPA to share the James E. Moore Scholarship Trophy for academic excellence.
In Scholarship Houses nationwide, COVID-19 did not diminish the spirit of community living.
We brought our Scholars home in March 2020 and safely reopened our chapter houses in the fall. Throughout, the spirit of group living stayed strong – because Scholars embraced every moment of connection, camaraderie and challenge, together.
Oscar remembers the exact day he knew the pandemic was going to get bad. It was March 11 – the day the NBA suspended its season.
On that milestone day, Oscar worried about his parents and the restaurant they own in Kansas City. Could they keep the family restaurant afloat during a lengthy shutdown?
As president of the Evans Scholars chapter at the University of Kansas, he also worried about his Scholarship House. In late March, the school shut down. “It was a course in crisis management,” says the senior, a journalism major and aspiring lawyer.
This past fall, students returned to campus. Moving back into the Scholarship House provided Scholars with a much-needed sense of normalcy. “There’s nothing we can’t accomplish together,” Oscar says.
This feeling also runs high at Rudy’s Tenampa Taqueria in Kansas City. With community support, Oscar’s family’s restaurant made it through the worst of COVID-19 and recently reopened.
Indian Hills Country Club, Mission Hills,
KS Senior, University of Kansas
2020 at a glance
The University of Chicago became our 19th partner school, part of our promise to establish new Evans Scholars chapters.
We reaffirmed our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by establishing a DE&I committee at the Board of Governors level.
The Evans Scholars Mentor Program, which matches Scholars with Alums and other professionals, facilitated 130 pairings.
Our world-class tournaments stayed on the leaderboard despite a global pandemic.
Although we had to cancel two major events – the Western Junior and the Women’s Western Junior – and reschedule two others, we were still able to host four signature championships thanks to our extraordinary sponsors, partners, host clubs and volunteers.
Olympia Fields Country Club held its first Western Open in 1920. The tournament was conducted just months after the nation declared victory over the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic.
In 2020, the event – now the BMW Championship – returned to Olympia Fields. But just as preparations were put into high gear, history repeated itself with a new pandemic.
“The membership never wavered during weeks of shifting scenarios and uncertainty,” says WGA Director and Tournament Chairman Mike Bruni. “We kept focused on maintaining the spirit of the championship and the Evans Scholarship.”
With no spectators, leaders at Olympia Fields knew that millions of dollars in support of the Evans Scholars Foundation would be lost. They rose to the challenge, asking select ticket buyers, sponsors and club members to donate to the cause rather than seek a refund.
In doing so, they raised nearly $500,000 for the Sam DiGiovanni Endowed Scholarship – named in memory of a beloved member of the Olympia Fields Country Club community and a past WGA Chairman.
Olympia Fields Country Club
2020 at a glance
Jon Rahm made a 65-foot putt on the first playoff hole to seal the most exciting finish in the 117-year history of the BMW Championship.
Pierceson Coody, one of the top-ranked amateur players in the world, captured the 118th Western Amateur at Crooked Stick Golf Club.
Brigitte Thibault of Rosemere, Quebec, became the second Canadian in four years to win the Women’s Western Amateur at Prestwick Country Club.
With golf on the upswing, we’re keeping caddying in the game.
Golf had one of its best summers ever in 2020, and we made sure youth caddies weren’t left behind. As shutdowns and restrictions threatened to keep young people off the course, we stepped up our game to advocate on their behalf and keep the life-changing Evans Scholarship within reach.
Max started hanging out with the wrong crowd in 9th grade. But after months of “poor choices and moral dilemmas,” he realized he needed to stand up for what he believed in.
That’s when his “friends” dropped him. With a long, lonely summer ahead, Max decided to caddie in his hometown of Rochester, New York. “I knew nothing about the rules, but I knew how to hustle and hold a conversation,” he says.
Determined to improve his skills, he applied for the Caddie & Leadership Academy at Oak Hill Country Club, but the deadline had passed. In true hustle fashion, he went to the meetings anyway.
In March, Max was awarded the Evans Scholarship and will attend his “dream school” – The Ohio State University. “The Scholarship takes a huge financial burden off my parents, who struggled to put money aside for my education while also paying the bills,” he says.
Oak Hill Country Club, Rochester, NY Incoming
Freshman, The Ohio State University
2020 at a glance
We connected our clubs through an e-newsletter focused on sharing best practices for caddying during COVID-19.
The WGA Caddie Academy engaged 124 caddies in virtual programming and training, preparing students to apply for the Evans Scholarship.
We developed a new online training tool called Virtual Caddie Training, helping aspiring caddies prepare for the golf season from home.
Partnerships & Philanthropy in 2020
The Promise Campaign officially went public, with more than $225 million secured to date. Campaign support is allowing us to increase the number of Evans Scholars in school, expand our Program coast to coast, and further develop caddie training programs and career mentorship initiatives for Evans Scholars. We expect to achieve our $300 million goal by 2022.
The Match Play Challenge raised more than $20 million, despite the game-changing impact of COVID-19. With many of our fundraising events canceled across the country, the success of the Match Play Challenge was vital. We are grateful to the 91 Match Play Partners who made gifts of $50,000 or greater to inspire increased Par Club support.
A new strategic partnership was established between the Western Golf Association and First Tee – Greater Chicago. Both organizations are committed to supporting and developing youth through the game of golf. Through the partnership, First Tee’s diverse group of youth participants will have direct access to WGA’s youth caddie programs and college scholarship opportunities.
To create new opportunities on the East Coast, the Evans Scholars Foundation launched new partnerships with the Westchester Caddie Scholarship Fund and the Long Island Caddie Scholarship Fund. Together, we will collaborate to expand the network of influential volunteer leaders from area clubs who can advocate for youth caddie opportunities and raise funds for caddie scholarships.
With most in-person fundraising events canceled because of COVID-19, we faced a significant decrease in event revenue. But four new virtual events helped close the gap. These events included Support Our Scholars 5K, National Evans Scholars Week, Steps for Scholarships Challenge and Green Coat Gala Remastered.
Putting the Future in Full Swing
The Western Golf Association/Evans Scholars Foundation released its new strategic plan in 2020 – setting the stage for growth over the next decade. The plan is organized around eight key ambitions to be achieved by 2030, the 100-year anniversary of the first two students receiving the Evans Scholarship in 1930.
The strategic plan’s goals include:
Supporting 1,500 Evans Scholars, living in a healthy and safe community, at leading universities across the country.
Doubling the number and diversifying the mix of youth caddie opportunities.
Building a more diverse staff and volunteer leadership to better reflect the diversity of the Evans Scholars community.
Investing more than $1 billion in educating Evans Scholars.
Setting the standard for excellence for all WGA championships on their respective tours and circuits and increasing their ties and charitable contributions to the Evans Scholars Program.
Increasing the percentage of Evans Scholars graduates making an annual gift to the Par Club to more than 75 percent.
Ensuring a four-year graduation rate of 97 percent or greater for Evans Scholars.
Preparing 100 percent of Evans Scholars graduates for the next leg of their journey.
for walking the course with us in 2020. In a year that challenged our mission as never before, your friendship and support made all the difference.