Year-long campaign will honor organization's rich history

GLENVIEW, Ill. – The Western Golf Association is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2024 with a year-long multi-platform awareness campaign, including a newly designed logo, to honor the WGA’s rich history of excellence in promoting championships and scholarships.

The 125th anniversary celebration will include social and digital content spotlighting the organization’s achievements and feature special initiatives at major events throughout the year, such as the Western Amateur and BMW Championship this summer and the organization’s annual Green Coat Gala in the fall.

“The Western Golf Association has been in the forefront of golf leadership since our founding in 1899,” said WGA President and CEO John Kaczkowski. “This year marks a significant milestone in our continued standing as one of the world’s preeminent golf associations.

“We’re proud of our legacy and all we’ve done in recent years to expand and strengthen our leadership role in golf championships and caddie scholarships,” Kaczkowski added. “We’re dedicated to building on our past heritage to offer even more opportunities in the future for competitive golfers and for student caddies to excel on and off the course.”

Representatives from 11 Chicago-area golf clubs founded the WGA on April 27, 1899, in a move to promote the interests in golf in what then still was considered as the western region of the United States.

In early September of 1899, the WGA sponsored the inaugural Western Open and Western Amateur championships at the Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois, a village nestled in Chicago’s near north suburbs. The prize money for the professionals competing in the first Western Open totaled $150.

In 1914, the WGA held the first national junior championship, the Western Junior, at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Illinois.

The WGA now conducts six national golf championships annually and has overseen the nationally acclaimed Evans Scholars Foundation since its inception in 1930.

“We’re grateful to the many golfers, fans and volunteers for all they do to make our championships among the finest in the world, and also for the generous support of the thousands of golfers who give back to the game every year to help fund our Evans Scholarships,” said WGA Chairman Steve Colnitis, who also is an Evans Scholar Alum.

“We’re especially indebted to our more than 1,000 WGA Directors across the country for the leadership they provide, not only at our championships, but at their local clubs, where they promote youth caddie programs and mentor caddies who go on to qualify for the Evans Scholarship,” he noted. “Their many contributions are invaluable.”

The Western Open roster of champions includes the WGAESF’s own Chick Evans, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and 2023 champion Viktor Hovland, to name just a few. Western Amateur and Western Junior have enjoyed equally illustrious pasts, with many of golf’s greatest names inscribed on their trophies.

Evans Scholars Alumni have made their mark in all occupations, rising to leadership positions in business, finance, healthcare, education and many more diverse career fields.

In recent years, the organization has seen tremendous growth from coast to coast, with continued years of record fundraising, scholarship applicants and awards provided, and the creation and development of youth caddie programs across the country.

Entering its 125th year, the WGA looks forward to adding more names to its notable list of golf champions and Evans Scholars leaders.

“We’re committed to further development and expansion in all areas we serve, as we strengthen our position as one of golf’s leading national organizations,” Kaczkowski noted. “This year offers us an opportunity to celebrate our rich history while setting the stage to meet and surpass our goals for the future.”