Caddies to College

Colorado-record 11 females among 14 caddies who earn full-tuition and housing Evans Scholarship to CU; 9 from Solich and Broadmoor Caddie & Leadership Academies among recipients

By Gary Baines – 2/3/2023

The selection meeting that leads to the awarding of Evans Scholarships to the University of Colorado is often an emotional, inspirational affair. And why wouldn’t it be, with caddies facing this one final hurdle before potentially receiving a full tuition and housing scholarship that’s worth more than $125,000 in some cases?

But the 2023 selection meeting took it up a notch — probably due in no small part to it being an in-person affair for the first time since early 2020 due to Covid-19 safety concerns the past two years. About 100 people — some coming from out of state for the event — attended the proceedings on Jan. 19 at Denver Country Club. 

There, they witnessed plenty of touching stories about considerable obstacles the teenage caddies have overcome to become finalists, with one of them being moved to the point of tears while wrapping up her session answering what earning an Evans Scholarship might mean to her. Another candidate prompted a standing ovation from selection meeting attendees.

“It’s my favorite day of the year,” Evans Scholar alum and E.S. Foundation trustee Geoff “Duffy” Solich said. “You can’t walk away without a big smile on your face.”

At the end of the day, it turned out to be a record-setting year for the Evans Scholarship in Colorado, where the program has been in existence since the 1960s. Let’s count the way:

Jovaun Salcido (center) takes the podium at the Jan. 19 selection meeting.

— The 14 caddies — just announced as Evans Scholar recipients by the Illinois-based Western Golf Association, which administers the scholarship nationwide — matches the second-highest total for Colorado in the 21st century. The 14 will live at the E.S. house in Boulder beginning in the fall semester.

— Of the 14, 11 are females, which not only is the highest total of women newcomers in the history of the CU house, but it surpasses the previous high by four. Women were first awarded the Evans Scholarship in Colorado in the early 1970s, and in the decades that followed they began living in the E.S. house in Boulder. While this class marks the largest number of incoming females for the CU Evans Scholars program, there was an earlier year when females outnumbered males in an incoming CU class — in 2005, when five women and three men were awarded the scholarship.

— Seven of the incoming CU Evans Scholars started as members of the Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy — one shy of the record. In addition, two come from the spinoff Broadmoor Caddie and Leadership Academy. Since the Solich Academy was founded in 2012, 40 of its caddies have earned Evans Scholarships. Meanwhile, The Broadmoor Academy, founded in 2020, has produced five Evans Scholars. Two CU Evans Scholar alums, George and Duffy Solich, have played integral roles in the establishment of both of the Colorado-based caddie academies. The SCLA, founded at CommonGround Golf Course, now is featured at eight courses in the state.

Some of the Evans Scholar recipients admit that they had never stepped on a golf course before starting in the caddie academies. Others had very little experience with the sport. Many credit caddying — and the academies — with helping them develop their communication skills.

“I struggled a lot (at the beginning as an SCLA caddie),” Sarah Jimenez of Aurora noted. “At the end of the first week, I was crying. But I used what I learned in the leadership academy. I got (SCLA) Rookie of the Year. I was so proud of that. And look at me now.”

The Solich and Broadmoor Academies promote the use of caddies by paying their base fees through an educational grant, with participating golfers having the option of adding a tip. The Academy also features a robust leadership element, with each participating youngster not only caddying but required to attend leadership classes and do community-service work each summer. 

Hannah Abbey shares a laugh while being interviewed.

— This year’s scholarship recipients include two sets of siblings, including one set of twins. The twins are Madeline and Schuyler Jonasen, who caddied at The Broadmoor, while the other siblings are Julia and Brady Schiff, who looped at Denver Country Club.

— Two of the incoming Evans Scholars are younger siblings of current E.S. alums — Keileigh Gorman of Golden and Karely Castillo of Denver.

— One, Erika Kemp of Denver, caddied at three different courses: Green Valley Ranch, Cherry Hills and CommonGround. Kemp and Castillo were also part of the First Tee at Green Valley Ranch.

All told, six Colorado courses/clubs are credited with producing at least two of the new Evans Scholar recipients: Cherry Hills Country Club (three), CommonGround Golf Course (two), Green Valley Ranch Golf Club (two), Meridian Golf Club (two), The Broadmoor (two) and Denver Country Club (two). (It should be noted that quite a few of the teenagers who received the scholarship caddied at more than one course over the years.) 

Five Denver residents are receiving the scholarship, with four from Aurora, two from Colorado Springs, and one each from Centennial, Littleton and Golden.

The WGA has long partnered with the CGA in supporting the scholarship in Colorado. The Evans Scholarship, awarded to high-achieving caddies with significant financial need, is a flagship program for the CGA. Through Par Club contributions and CGA membership support, Colorado donors fully fund the year-to-year scholarship costs at the CU Evans Scholars house.

In addition, the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship, which last year raised more than $4.5 million for the Evans Scholarship, will be contested at Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock in 2024.

Michael Barbone racked up 180 caddie loops at Cherry Hills Country Club.

To qualify for an Evans Scholarship — one of the nation’s largest privately funded scholarship programs — applicants must have excellent caddie records and academic results, show strong character and leadership, and demonstrate financial need. 

This year, a record 39 Colorado caddies applied for the Evans Scholarship. Overall, nationally and internationally, 875 applied for the 325 scholarships that are expected to be awarded this cycle.

January’s selection meeting at Denver CC is one of 30 being conducted this year by the WGA. In Colorado, among those who attended the meeting were alums of the program, CGA leadership and staff, PGA professionals and WGA directors.

The incoming CU Evans Scholars average 120 caddie loops and a 3.72 grade-point average. Michael Barbone had the largest number of loops, with 180 in just two years at Cherry Hills, while five recipients own a 4.0 GPA in high school — Jovaun Salcido, Georgia Meysman-Sharpe, Jimenez, and Brady and Julia Schiff.

Schuyler Jonasen will receive the scholarship with twin sister Madeline.

Here are the 14 new Evans Scholars from Colorado: 

Julia Schiff of Denver; George Washington High School; caddied at Denver Country Club

Brady Schiff of Denver; George Washington High School and one year at the University of Colorado; caddied at Denver Country Club (will receive three-year scholarship)

Michael Barbone of Littleton; Heritage High School and one year at University of Colorado-Denver; caddied at Cherry Hills Country Club (will receive three-year scholarship)

Alexandria Gough of Aurora; Smoky Hill High School; caddied at Cherry Hills Country Club and Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy at CommonGround Golf Course

Sarah Jimenez of Aurora; William Smith High School; caddied at Cherry Hills Country Club and Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy at CommonGround Golf Course

Georgia Meysman-Sharpe of Aurora; Regis Jesuit High School; caddied at Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy at CommonGround Golf Course

Ellie Rodriguez of Aurora; Mullen High School; caddied at Colorado Golf Club and Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy at CommonGround Golf Course

Keileigh Gorman of Golden; Lakewood High School; caddied at Club at Rolling Hills

Karely Castillo of Denver; Denver School of Science and Technology; caddied at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club

Erika Kemp of Denver; Regis Jesuit High School; caddied at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, Cherry Hills Country Club and Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy at CommonGround Golf Course

Madeline Jonasen of Colorado Springs; Coronado High School; caddied at The Broadmoor Caddie & Leadership Academy at The Broadmoor Golf Club

Schuyler Jonasen of Colorado Springs; Coronado High School; caddied at The Broadmoor Caddie & Leadership Academy at The Broadmoor Golf Club

Hannah Abbey of Centennial; Cherry Creek High School; caddied at the Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy at Meridian Golf Club

Jovaun Salcido of Denver; Valor Christian High School; caddied at Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy at Meridian Golf Club

Keileigh Gorman is the younger sister of a CU Evans Scholar alum.

A record 1,100 Evans Scholars are currently in school nationwide, enrolled at 22 universities. The WGA is hoping to have 1,500 Evans Scholars in school by 2030, its 100th anniversary. 

The scholarship has produced 11,815 alums since being founded in 1930 by Charles “Chick” Evans, an amateur who won a U.S. Open and two U.S. Amateurs. Since the 1960s, a total of 540 Evans Scholars have graduated from CU, where 55 are in the program there. 

Over the last 93 years, the Evans Scholarship has provided more than $435 million worth of tuition and housing aid to caddies. The annual costs for the program run about $27 million.

Evans Scholars typically excel academically, with a cumulative college GPA of 3.3, and a 96 percent graduation rate within four years.

For those interested in donating to the Evans Scholars Foundation, CLICK HERE.

About the Author: Gary Baines owns and operates