Like a typical little brother, Jackson Schuette followed in the footsteps of his older sibling, Jordan, when he signed up for the caddy program at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel. Six years later, both he and his twin brother, Alex, have the opportunity to attend college thanks to the many miles he logged lugging bags.
The chance of attending Indiana University in Bloomington was way out-of-bounds, until Jackson, a senior at Carmel High School, applied for and won The Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship. According to the Western Golf Association, the full tuition and housing scholarship for golf caddies is renewable for up to four years and helps deserving caddies realize the dream of attending college. The WGA believes living and working together provides Evans Scholars an opportunity to develop leadership capabilities and strong communication skills. Although many of their communication skills have already been developed hands-on on the course.
“You do what it takes to keep the game going,” said Jackson. “Even if it means carrying three bags.” This tenacity is just part of the reason why he gained recognition; excellent grades, outstanding character and demonstrated financial need are also a part of the equation.
Vince Pellegrino, Western Golf Association Vice President of Tournaments and an Evans Scholar recipient explains more than 800 caddies attend college on a four-year scholarship from the Evans Scholars Foundation. “I caddied in Chicago and chose a career I am passionate about, to see other kids earn this scholarship is my way to pay it forward.”
Leigh Schuette, who is a single mom, feels a burden is lifted from her shoulders. “As anyone knows, sending kids to college is a financial challenge but sending twins is really tough,” said Leigh. “Not only did the caddying give Jackson spending money and enough to buy a car, it taught him the value of hard work and he knows when to spend and when to save.”
So, what’s so hard about caddying?
“Waking up at 4:00 a.m. and sometimes I would have to do two loops on the same day,” said Jackson. Loops are eighteen-hole rounds and not every round is four hours of pleasant conversation. “One time a golfer duck hooked a drive. He wasn’t happy. He took the driver, snapped it in half, helicoptering it into the lake. I just stood there and was quiet.”
But, most of the time golfers don’t want him to be quiet. They want to know about him, “I’ve really developed the ability to hold a conversation,” said Jackson. “The people I caddy for want to know what’s going on in my life and they are genuinely interested. And, they have all helped shaped me into the person I have become.”
His mom agrees. “What a great place to grow up, in a successful, athletic environment,” said Leigh.
Pellegrino couldn’t agree more. “I’ve been on the podium – on the other side. About 230 kids will earn this scholarship which is about a $60,000 value here in Indiana.” Since 1930, when the first two Evans Scholars enrolled at Northwestern University, more than 10,000 men and women have benefited from this award, and most will attend one of the 14 universities across the nation where the Evans Scholars Foundation owns and operates a Scholarship House.
Not only is Pellegrino a scholarship recipient and has had the honor of awarding the accolade to other young people, he wants to spread the word about upcoming tournaments. “You never know who the next John Daly is going to be.” Referring to the 1991 PGA Championship held at Crooked Stick, he extends an invitation to attend the BMW Championship which kicks off Labor Day weekend and will attract the premier players on the PGA Tour. “Our goal is to bring the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mikelson and Sergio Garcia to premier facilities of golf – the cathedrals of golf which are the best courses in the country.”
That said, as a caddie, Jackson has had the opportunity to work with talented golfers, focused businessmen, celebrities and in his more than 400 rounds of golf, has learned some valuable life lessons. He is honored to have been chosen as an Evans Scholar as he plans for his future and the chip in when its his turn to pay it forward knowing his best rounds are yet to come, and most likely will not be on the golf course.