Comprehensive report assesses benefits and challenges of caddying
Glenview, Ill. – The Western Golf Association (WGA) has conducted comprehensive research on youth caddying in the United States to assess the benefits and challenges involved with youth caddies and to guide the organization’s work over the next decade.
Key findings in the research include numerous benefits for young students who caddie, including physical – walking increases cardiovascular health and is shown to reduce the risk of obesity; social – enhanced communication skills, ability to interact and network with a variety of people, confidence, teamwork and responsibility; societal – summer employment opportunities, mentorship and growing the game of golf; and financial – the ability to earn money. Youth caddies also benefit golf courses by improving pace of play, reducing cart traffic and damage to courses, and helping maintain ideal playing conditions through raking bunkers, repairing divots and fixing pitch marks.
Additionally, caddies with financial need may be eligible to apply for college scholarships, including the Evans Scholarship, the nation’s largest scholarship program for golf caddies, providing full tuition and housing scholarships to high-achieving youth caddies with financial need. Currently, there are 1,070 Evans Scholars attending 21 leading universities nationwide, and more than 11,550 caddies have graduated as Evans Scholars since the Program was founded in 1930.
The research also outlines the challenges associated with youth caddying – such as the use of motorized golf carts, the steady decline of youth employment in the country, the variation of youth labor laws across states and the prominence of adult caddies who have more flexibility to work during the school week. Extracurricular activities in the summer such as club sports, summer school and volunteering also compete for time that could be spent caddying. In certain areas, further research is recommended, as the support and growth of youth caddie opportunities is an important benefit to growing the game of golf.
“This research reiterates our belief that caddying is the best summer job that a young person can have,” said John Kaczkowski, WGA president and CEO. “Not only does it provide important physical and social benefits for young men and women, but the skills learned on the golf course provide a core foundation for lifelong personal and professional success. Caddying also can be a path to earning a college education, such as the life-changing Evans Scholarship. These findings will help guide our continued efforts to defend youth caddying and establish more caddie programs across the country.”
The WGA is the recognized authority on youth caddying, working directly with hundreds of golf and country clubs across the country to promote, establish and grow youth caddie programs. The organization provides extensive resources to help with caddie recruitment and training, as well as assisting with caddie program operations and serving as advocates on behalf of young caddies and working with club leaders and state and national officials.
The WGA partners with regional golf associations and caddie scholarship providers across the country who support these efforts, including the New Jersey State Golf Association Caddie Scholarship Foundation, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust, the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund and the Westchester Golf Association Caddie Scholarship Fund.
One highlight of its caddie efforts, the WGA Caddie Academy provides work opportunities to under-resourced high school students across the country, who live and caddie together for seven weeks each summer. In 2021, the WGA Caddie Academy completed its 10th summer and now has four chapters; since its inception, 100 graduates of the WGA Caddie Academy have earned the Evans Scholarship.
This research on youth caddying was conducted over several years by Dr. Anthony Rosselli, the director of player development for the professional golf management program in the department of parks, recreation and tourism management at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“This project was eye-opening for me. I wasn’t involved in caddying as a youth, but now that I’ve studied its benefits, I am looking to get my own children involved as soon as they are able,” said Rosselli. “The physical, social and financial benefits derived from youth caddying exceed those gained from any other job that a young person can perform. It really does have the potential to be a life-changing opportunity.”
In recent years, the WGA has expanded its efforts to drive the conversation around the importance of youth caddies and increase awareness of the Evans Scholars Program from coast to coast. The organization is in the midst of a period of tremendous growth; its long-range goals include doubling the number and diversifying the mix of youth caddie opportunities available nationwide, as well as increasing the number of Evans Scholars in school nationwide to 1,500 by 2030.