The Next Generation

Cherry Hills CC, host of the 2023 U.S. Am, donates $500,000 each to the Evans Scholars Foundation, the Colorado chapters of First Tee, and the Palmer Scholarship Foundation

By Gary Baines – 8/19/2023

Cherry Hills Country Club takes pride in not only hosting big-time golf championships, but being a major supporter of youth through golf.

So it seemed only appropriate that on Saturday of a U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills, club officials announced that they are making $1.5 million in donations to prominent golf-related youth organizations with Colorado ties.

A total of $500,000 each will go to the Evans Scholars Foundation, Colorado chapters of the First Tee, and the Palmer Scholarship Foundation.

The Evans Scholarship provides full tuition and housing grants to high-achieving caddies with significant financial need. It’s administered by the Illinois-based Western Golf Association, but one of the scholarship houses is located at the University of Colorado — where 58 caddies are on the scholarship, which is a flagship program for the CGA.

The goal of the First Tee is to educate and inspire youth academically, socially and physically through the game of golf. The Colorado First Tee chapters who will benefit from Saturday’s donations are the First Tee Green Valley Ranch, the First Tee Colorado Rocky Mountain and the First Tee Southern Colorado.

And the Palmer Scholarship Foundation provides Cherry Hills Country Club employees and caddies with financial assistance for a variety of educational pursuits.

USGA president Fred Perpall was among the attendees at Saturday’s donation festivities.

“Tomorrow the USGA will crown a champion and change the trajectory of a young man’s life,” Jim Hillary, this year’s U.S. Amateur championship chair, said at a news conference on Saturday at the site of the Junior Experience being held in conjunction with the U.S. Amateur. “Today, we champion access to golf through the First Tee program, and access to higher education through scholarships awarded by Evans and Palmer. The partnership between the USGA and Cherry Hills dates back to the 1938 U.S. Open. The membership cherishes this relationship and supports all of the USGA endeavors. Our commitment is manifested through volunteerism, financial support and championship golf.”

Among those in attendance at Saturday’s donation festivities was Fred Perpall, president of the USGA, who praised the donation and the idea of the Junior Experience, which has drawn registration from roughly 1,700 kids.

“If every kid grew up in this country on a golf course, this (nation) would be a better place,” Perpall said. “So kids, we want you to know, there’s room in this game for you.

“This Junior Experience is a demonstration of your collective commitment to make sure this game is open and accessible to all. We know that the Evans Scholars Foundation, the Palmer Scholarship and the First Tee will continue to do good work and create more leaders for the future because of your efforts. We’re proud to be your partner and most importantly we’re proud to be your friend.”

The great majority of the money for Saturday’s donation came from members at Cherry Hills, including 33 “friends of the championship” that got the ball rolling in a big way three years ago. There were also grants from the Daniels Fund and from the Ball Foundation, and two non-CHCC members also kicked in significant funding. 

CU Evans Scholars alum George Solich (left) accepts a donation for the Evans Scholars Foundation. At right are Hillary and Perpall.

“I’d like to congratulate the membership of this club for their great heart, their great commitment and their dedication to giving back to the game of golf,” said George Solich, a member at Cherry Hills and a CU Evans Scholar alum along with brother Duffy, both of whom have provided their  names and considerable support to the ever-growing Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy in Colorado.

George Solich noted Cherry Hills’ robust caddie program and the fact that CHCC is the largest individual club supporter of the Evans Scholars Foundation in the country.

“This gift will change the lives of really high-performing, financially needy caddies all over the country but particularly here in Colorado,” he said.

Davis Bryant, a former CGA Player of the Year and Colorado State golfer who competed in the U.S. Amateur this week, was a member of the First Tee program at GVR.

“Thank you, Mr. Hillary, Cherry Hills members and the First Tee for making me who I am today — and for changing thousands of kids’ lives one swing at a time,” Bryant said.

Dave Packer, a former president of Cherry Hills Country Club, said the club this year alone has provided $350,000 in funds for the Palmer Scholarship, which was started by the club in conjunction with Arnold Palmer.

“This is the single largest donation in our history,” he said. “This is a very meaningful gift that will allow us to take the scholarship even further. Our club is proud to support educational goals of those who make Cherry Hills such a wonderful place, and we love to see them leave the nest and have success.”

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates