“A caddie scholarship gives a big leg up to kids who otherwise might not be able to afford college on their own,” says Alan Nahoum, president of the Westchester Caddie Scholarship Fund (WCSF). “Our goal is to discover their needs and meet as many of them as we can.”
Manhattanville College freshman Ryan Molino says his WCSF caddie scholarship gave his college career a big boost. “I was very excited when I got the scholarship,” the Port Chester resident says. “It’s a big help with my tuition.” Molino, 19, who caddied at Westchester Country Club, learned about the program at the MGA caddie-orientation program held at the club when he first started looping in 2017. WCC caddie manager Bobby Collins reminded him to apply last spring.
Molino is one of 73 young men and women who joined the program this year, making a total of 271 students from 65 Westchester area clubs who will receive more than $1 million in aid for this school year. While most are caddies, anyone who works in what the WCSF terms “service to golf” is eligible. That includes those who work in pro shops, bag rooms, practice ranges, or grounds crews. The fund has supported more than 2,670 kids with $21 million in scholarships since its founding in 1962 by Willie Turnesa, one of America’s greatest amateur golfers, and longtime Quaker Ridge member Udo Reinach.
“The majority of our funding comes from individual contributions through the ‘bag tag’ program at our member clubs,” explains WCSF senior director Johanna Gavin. “Right behind that are our fundraising events.” The “bag tag” program allows donors to designate an amount — usually equivalent to at least a caddie fee — that’s charged to their club account each month.
The WCSF Marathon generates donations based on the number of holes played before sundown by generous and tireless golfers. In 2018, it raised more than $90,000 for the fund at Knollwood, with both Jeff Wattles and Alex Wynn of Greenwich Country Club each racing through 116 holes.
Another event, the WCSF Pro-Am, teams local pros with amateur players for a day of golf, camaraderie, and fundraising. Last year’s outing at Century drew participants from as far away as Texas and Kentucky to play with 35 pros. Other events include an alumni tournament, a “friends of the fund” best-ball event at Hudson National, and the CCH Invitational, held in memory of Chris Hickey.
Nahoum, a Port Chester resident who belongs to Tamarack, is enthusiastic about the new relationship between the WCSF and the nationwide Evans Scholarship program. “In addition to what we provide,” he says, “a bunch of our caddies will have the opportunity to get a full-ride scholarship. Their criteria are slightly different from ours, but if we get 20 or even 10 scholarships for our people, that’s great, because our purpose is to help the kids.” Evans scholarships go to caddies and provide full tuition and housing scholarships at partner schools.
MGA president Tod Pike succinctly sums up the benefits of the program when he says, “If you’re a high school student who’s looking for summer employment, what’s better than a summer job that could lead to a college scholarship?”