Caddie programs come in all shapes in sizes. Here in Colorado, we are fortunate to have some incredible caddie programs. The Colorado Golf Association's own is the Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy located at the home course of the CGA, CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora as well as chapters at Meridian Golf Club in Parker and Grand Junction's Lincoln Park and Tiara Rado Golf Courses.
The Solich Academy, founded in 2012, has 52 kids enrolled in this year's program. These 8th & 9th graders are selected based on academic excellence, character and financial need. These kids then receive an educational grant following their weekly completion of leadership training, volunteer service and, as expected, completed caddie rounds.
During the summer the kids get to learn the game of golf in a way that can only be done on course with a golfer's bag on their shoulder. Caddies are free to the golfers they are looping for. While a tip is always a bonus, each caddie receives an evaluation from the golfer they are looping for. After two summers, the kids then have the opportunity to move on to other successful caddie programs across the Denver area.
One of the special parts of taking a caddie is time spent with these young men and women. Each of these kids has a unique story and caddying means something different to each and every one of them. For some this is their first job and it teaches them many new skills.
"It's like a form of responsibility," said Nelan Benjamin, a first-year caddie, "This is my first job so far, so you get learn a bunch of new things."
A major objective of starting the Solich Academy was to put kids on a path toward the Evans Scholarship administered by the Western Golf Association. The WGA awards full tuition and housing scholarships to 60 students annually to the University of Colorado Boulder. In the 2017-2018 school year, there were 965 Evans Scholars enrolled in leading universities nationwide. The scholarship is awarded to caddies across the country that exemplify exceptional work ethic, character and academic achievement. The Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy has seen 17 graduates go on to be awarded the Evans Scholarship.
One of those is Nate Garcia who went on to caddie at the Denver Country Club and has just finished his freshman year at CU where he is studying political science.
"I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for caddying," said Garcia.
The Solich Academy is funded through the generosity of donors around the state. If you would like to support the caddie program with a gift, please consider donating today: CLICK HERE TO DONATE, or visit CommonGround and take a free caddie today.
Another way you can support the program is through the CGA's Bandon Dunes Dream Vacation Raffle. At Bandon Dunes Golf Resort caddies play an important role in a player's golf experience. This walking-only golf resort features five distinctly different courses, including two designed by Tom Doak, the same architect who designed CommonGround Golf Course. (#2 Pacific Dunes and #10 Old MacDonald ranked Golf Digest Top 100 Public Courses)
The CGA and Bandon Dunes are proud to continue the Bandon Dunes Dream Golf Vacation raffle for a third year. The grand prize includes six rounds of golf and caddie fees at your choice of five courses, three-nights' accommodations, and a $1,000 food/travel credit.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here. Thank you for supporting the Solich Academy and future caddies in Colorado.