INGLEWOOD — The Western Golf Association’s Caddie Academy is returning for its 10th summer, providing a select group of under-resourced students from across the nation the opportunity to caddie at golf clubs along Chicago’s North Shore.
High school students will caddie daily for seven weeks at one of 13 participating clubs, while living at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois. In addition, 27 female students will participate in the summer program virtually.
“The Caddie Academy provides a unique opportunity for hard-working young women and men to be introduced to the game of golf through caddying,” said WGA Chairman Kevin Buggy. “Along the way, they learn plenty of important life lessons, including perseverance, dedication and communication and money management skills.
“The ultimate reward is a chance to earn a full housing and tuition Evans Scholarship to college,” he added.
Among the summer participants are three students from St. Mary’s Academy, in Inglewood.
London Harris, Angelina Hernandez and Idaly Sanchez are joining other teens at this year’s academy and they are excited to be participating in person this summer.
“I joined the program during summer 2020 and my first year was online, but this year I get to experience caddying firsthand at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Illinois,” said Hernandez, 16. “I like the program because it gives me an opportunity to meet other girls my age that I never would never have the chance of meeting. I also gain job experience and understand the value of hard work.”
The participants are not only excited about earning money during the summer, but also enjoy learning much needed life skills.
“I have learned the importance of a genuine human connection and being an out-going person,” Harris said. “Being from L.A. and coming so far to Chicago, I have learned how important it is to make yourself known and to not hesitate under pressure.
“While caddying, I learned so much about a golfer during a short period of time. That is something truly amazing because I could not experience that anywhere else. This is attributed to the fact that I caddie every day.”
Through the Caddie Academy, students have the chance to earn money, meet role models and learn valuable life lessons on the golf course. After successfully completing three summers of the program, they become eligible to apply for the Evans Scholarship, a full tuition and housing college scholarship. Participants come from economically under-resourced backgrounds, and more than 90% are minorities.
To date, more than 90 graduates of the Caddie Academy have been awarded the Evans Scholarships since the program began in 2012.
The ladies give the program high remarks and encourage other girls to consider applying.
“I would definitely recommend the WGA Caddie Academy to other students because it gives someone the opportunity to connect with others nationwide while earning money,” Harris said. “It is also a great opportunity for college and beyond.”
“I would absolutely recommend other students to join the Caddie Academy because of the things they would learn, the experience they would have during the summer, and the idea of being out of their comfort zone,” said Sanchez, 16. “It is a way to strengthen your own character as a person and a way to gain experience in a whole new environment within the dorms and on the golf course.”
Caddie Academy participants are chosen during their freshman year of high school, based on academics, demonstrated financial need and promising leadership and character.
The Caddie Academy is funded by the Souder family. Proceeds from the women’s invitational golf event also benefit the program.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.