Molly McMulliGan’s Fab 5

Places to play that have a caddie academy: Book now!

The McMulligans love an early Memorial Day because that means we’ll have some really cool young people on our bags the next time we play CommonGround – at no cost to us except a tip at the end of the round.

We love the Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy because the kids – mostly middle schoolers who become eligible the summer after 8th grade – are out there to learn life skills and earn looping credits that could result in an Evans Scholarship, a full four-year college ride.

They might not know much about golf; Harvey Richardson, who runs the Grand Junction chapter, says of newcomers, “We have to teach them the difference between a 6-iron and a bowling ball.” So we don’t expect them to help us read putts. We’re helping them, and that not only feels good, it’s usually great fun because the caddies strive to be good company.

But did you know CommonGround, the home of the CGA, isn’t the only golf course in Colorado that has a summertime caddie academy? At last count, we found five programs with a total of seven courses where players could request a student caddie.

Here are the five programs, two of them private, two public and one that’s a special Colorado vacation destination. Be sure to request a caddie whenever you book a tee-time – and don’t forget that tip!

CommonGround: The original home of the Solich Academy and Leadership program is going strong 12 years after it launched. Caddies can be booked for rounds Tuesdays through Sundays, Memorial Day through Labor Day, by calling 303-340-1520, emailing or using the free CaddieNow app. For instant rapport with your caddie, visit before your round to learn more about the two-year process.

Meridian Golf Club: The first private club to operate a Solich Academy chapter might have struggled to engage member buy-in back in 2015, but now the CaddieNow app makes it easy for members to request a caddie when they reserve their tee times. Meridian accepts 15 student caddies each year and encourages the membership to keep them busy with loops.

Fort Collins Country Club: The newest of the caddie academy chapters uses a tee-time reservation system that sets preferences, so it’s not so easy for members to request a student caddie with a click. That’s where assistant pro Ed Standish comes in. “The way it works is I call and hassle them,” he jokes. “It’s not really a hard sell, but it hasn’t gotten engrained yet.” It’s getting there: Last year FCCC had 12 caddies doing 278 loops; this year the goal is 20 caddies, 400 rounds. And, yes, he’s happy to accommodate guests!

The Broadmoor: Colorado’s five-star, five-diamond, 11-on-a-scale-of-10 destination resort shut down its robust caddie program in 2020 due to COVID restrictions. Now that it’s back up and running, the Broadmoor Caddie and Leadership Academy serves only members, not guests. That makes sense when you think about the broad origins of Broadmoor visitors: Someone from Texas or New York or Scotland might be taken aback to learn that their caddie is 15 years old and has never played golf! But if you’re playing with members, they can text caddie manager Mark Kelbel to secure a student caddie for your group.

Tiara Rado and Lincoln Park public courses, Bookcliff Country Club: Grand Junction’s Solich Academy got an early start in April under Richardson’s direction, and players at the three participating courses can call him now to request a caddie: 970-260-9157. Be sure to give him a day or two’s notice to put the word out. With only six caddies, Richardson has been encouraging youngsters to “work the group” by cleaning clubs and balls, raking traps and filling divots for everyone in the group. They’re learning fast, he says, “Because if your player tips you $20 or $25 and the other players add another $5 or so, that adds up.” Financial literacy, by the way, is an important component of the Solich Academy life skills curriculum.

Veteran journalist Susan Fornoff has written about golf for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, ColoradoBiz magazine and her own She provides the voice of “Molly McMulligan,” the CGA’s on-course consultant on golf for fun. Email her at


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