Courtesy of the Western Golf Association
Caddies to College
From the time he was big enough to shoulder a bag, Charles "Chick" Evans Jr. was on the golf course.
At the age of 8, Evans (WCAS13) began caddying at the Edgewater Golf Club on Chicago 's North Side. He had a knack for finding lost balls — by rolling around in the rough — and despite being one of the youngest caddies on the course, he quickly earned raves from the club's members.
Those memories stuck with Edgewater's No. 1 bagger. "He always had a soft spot in his heart for the caddies," says Gary Holaway, communications director for the Western Golf Association/Evans Scholars Foundation. That's why for nearly 75 years now the WGA has administered the Evans Scholarships for caddies — one of the largest privately funded scholarship initiatives in the nation.
The lessons learned looping the Edgewater course prepared Evans for an amateur run that spanned six decades and included wins in all the major championships of his era.
Evans won both the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur titles in 1916. He played with six U.S. presidents but cancelled an outing with President Taft, instead setting sail aboard a cattle boat to play in the 1911 British Open. In his career he won more than 50 tournaments, and for 14 years (1909-23) he held at least one major golf title.
Despite all his success, Evans, a dairy salesman, never entered the professional ranks.
"Golf is a game, a recreation, an escape from toil and trouble. It's not a profession," he once said, according to his 1979 obituary in the Chicago Tribune. "Today's players are just a wee bit too serious."
To retain his amateur status, Evans turned down numerous sponsorship opportunities. In 1923 he produced the phonograph record album "Chick" Evans' Golf Secrets as part of a series of instructional recordings. His mother, Lena, suggested that he put the $5,000 earnings from the record sales back into the game.
Lena and Chick, who had completed just one year at Northwestern before running out of funds, decided that the money should be used to send caddies to college. In 1930 the WGA sent the first two Evans Scholars — Harold Fink (WCAS34) and Ralph James McGinnis (EB34) — to Northwestern.
Fink, who went on to a 40-year career with Rand McNally, and McGinnis, a Chicago commodities broker, were the first two of 582 Evans Scholars to graduate from Northwestern. (Nine more are scheduled to graduate in June.) Both Fink and McGinnis attributed their success to the scholarship.
They are not alone.
"It is an amazing program," says John Murphy (C80). "I would venture to say that it may be the best scholarship anyone could receive to college. I'm the son of an Irish immigrant and the oldest of four. There is no chance in the world my parents could have afforded to send me to an institution like Northwestern."
The scholars live in a 1920s-built former sorority house at 721 University Place.
By all accounts it's a great experience. "This is a diverse group," says Northwestern Evans Scholars president Manuel Diaz. "We each bring our own situation, our unique background. This is a community. It's a lot of fun. I count myself lucky every day."
In 1940 Northwestern's Evans Scholars, the Alpha Chapter, opened the first Evans House at 1935 Sherman Ave. There are now 14 chapters nationwide.
Today Northwestern is home to 38 Evans Scholars, including eight women. (Judith Cloos Kreuschmer [EB59] was the first female Evans Scholar.) Scholars in the house (most women scholars live in residence halls on campus) pay a small housing and social fee, maintain their residence, purchase their own books and work for their meals, often in sorority houses and campus dining halls.
And they hit the books hard. The Alpha Chapter won the 2003 Chapter Scholarship Trophy for the highest grade point average (3.34) among the 14 chapters. They also earned the University's philanthropy of the year award three years in a row (2000-02).
Evans would have appreciated those successes.
"He'd be pleased and proud, no question about it," says Jim Moore, educational director of the ESF. "When Chick was alive, the program was still relatively small so he knew many of the scholars personally. He was proud of them. He loved them. They were his boys."
— Sean Hargadon
Sean Hargadon, senior editor at Northwestern magazine, is better with a pen than a putter.