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Former caddie touts caddie scholarships

Saul

– Vince Saul can attest to the importance of the Evans Scholar Foundation. It helped him – and a lot of his family – go to college.

“That was our ticket to college,” said the 42-year-old Saul, a graduate of Bishop Luers and Indiana University, who is now a director with the Western Golf Association.

The WGA, which dates back to 1899, runs tournaments such as the Western Amateur, the Junior Championship, the BMW Championship and the Hotel Fitness Championship, which will be run for the second time beginning Aug. 28 at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.

But the WGA’s focus is a charitable one – the Chick Evans scholarships that are available to more than 800 caddies who fit particular criteria – and as a director, Saul promotes the availability and importance of those scholarships.

“You have to be a golf caddie for at least two summers with a minimum of 100 loops,” Saul said, “and you have to get good grades, have outstanding character and be involved in extracurricular activities, and you have to have the financial need.”

Caddies at Sycamore Hills, Fort Wayne Country Club and Orchard Ridge Country Club, where Saul worked as a kid, are eligible.

More than 200 full-tuition and housing scholarships are awarded each year with an average grant valued at $80,000. Scholars have a graduation rate of 92 percent.

Saul, who now lives in Indianapolis and is a member at Hillcrest Country Club, got his start at Orchard Ridge because of his uncle, Chris Svarczkopf, who is now the football coach at Bishop Dwenger.

“He really is the guy I credit for all of this,” said Saul, who is a financial adviser. “He was an Evans Scholar in the 1970s at Purdue University. When he was a school teacher at North Side, he was also the caddie master at Orchard Ridge. He busted through my door and said get those kids out there caddying. They’re going to college. I went out there and I eventually wound up getting the scholarship.”

So did five of Saul’s siblings and some of his cousins.

In 2013-14, there were 840 Evans Scholars in school, and more than 9,800 Evans Scholars alumni. Among the current scholars are four apiece from Fort Wayne Country Club and Orchard Ridge Country Club, along with three from Sycamore Hills. There are 60 alumni from Fort Wayne.

The Hotel Fitness Championship, which was won last year by former Masters champion Trevor Immelman, is the first of four tournaments in the Web.com Tour’s Finals, which help to determine PGA Tour cards for next season. Included in the field will be the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour and Nos. 126 to 200 in the PGA Tour’s FedExCup points list.

There will be two pro-ams preceding the Hotel Fitness Championship – on Monday and Wednesday – and they will benefit the Evans Scholars Foundation and the Mad Anthonys Children’s Hope House, which provides lodging for families with a hospitalized child receiving critical care at any Fort Wayne hospital.

“People and companies will pay top dollar to play in those and to get access to a touring pro for their rounds,” Saul said. “And there are some big names coming through Fort Wayne for the Hotel Fitness Championship. … All the money we receive from the pro-am will go directly to the Evans Scholars Foundation and help pay for the scholarships. It’s a major deal for us.”

Chick Evans was the first golfer to win both the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur in the same year, which he did in 1916.

If you’re interested in finding out how to start caddying and pursue a scholarship, visit www.wgaesf.org or call Sycamore Hills, Fort Wayne Country Club or Orchard Ridge Country Club.

“Once people hear about the scholarships, they almost don’t believe you,” Saul said. “Unfortunately, it’s one of the best kept secrets in the state of Indiana.”

jcohn@jg.net

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