HARTFORD, Conn. – The Chick Evans Scholarship is among the most prestigious anywhere in the golfing world, and three Connecticut caddies have received the award.
Graduating high school seniors Alex Lipari of New Milford, a caddie at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., and Alejandro Vasquez of Norwalk, who caddies at Sankaty Head Golf Club in Nantucket, R.I., have won full rides to Purdue and Penn State, respectively. Mark Dellostritto of Cheshire, son of PGA of America professional Ron Dellostritto and recipient of a Connecticut State Golf Association Caddie Scholarship who caddies at New Haven Country Club, will receive the Evans award as a sophomore after just completing his first year in Liberal Arts at Vanderbilt University.
Lipari, of New Milford High School, will study engineering, while Vasquez, who attends the Brien McMahon Center for Global Studies in Norwalk, will study Linguistics and International Politics.
According to the Evans Scholarship Foundation, administered by the Western Golf Association, more than 20 Connecticut caddies have earned the scholarship, named after the late Chicago amateur, Chick Evans. After winning the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open Championship in 1916, and subsequently earning money from a golf book, Evans chose to remain an amateur and took his mother’s suggestion to devote his earnings to a scholarship for caddies. The BMW Championship, the second of three FedExCup playoff events in August in Olympia Fields, Ill., and thousands of donors, many of them former caddies, contribute to the Evans’ nearly $20 million a year tuition bill.
There are 1,010 Evans Scholars enrolled in 18 leading universities across the country, including Big Ten schools and others such as Colorado, Notre Dame and Miami of Ohio. Since the scholarship’s birth in 1930, more than 11,000 have graduated from the program.
The Evans Scholarship, a full, four-year award, provides both tuition and Evans Scholars chapter housing. It is caddies-only, and in addition to high academic achievement, applicants must have caddied at least 100 rounds and be in financial need.
The three Connecticut winners took varying paths to their scholarships.
Lipari started caddying at the suggestion of Winged Foot’s caddie master David Zona, who attends the same church as the Lipari family in New Milford. Lipari won the Westchester (N.Y.) Evans Scholarship, awarded in conjunction with the Westchester Golf Association Caddie Foundation.
“This would be an amazing thing,” Lipari told the WGA selection committee at the Union League Club in February. “I would not be able to attend the kind of [engineering] school I had hoped to attend without it.”
Vasquez took advantage of the Sankaty Head Caddie Camp, which trains, houses and employs caddies during the summer. Sankaty is one of an increasing number of caddie camps and academies nationwide at a time when club caddie programs have declined.
“I went from never having been on a golf course to playing golf year-round,” said Vasquez, who caddied more than 200 rounds over three years at Sankaty. “Realizing that I was one of the few that had no experience with golf, I spent every moment asking questions and trying my best to learn on the course.”
For Dellostritto, whose father until recently was the longtime head pro at Wethersfield Country Club, it was always a part of the golf life he knew, but he came to it only a couple of years ago.
All three recipients said caddying changed their outlooks on life.
“Learning the importance of resilience when faced with the unknown was the big take-away (from caddying),” Vasquez told the Connecticut State Golf Association website. Lipari pointed to the job’s opportunity to interact with and learn from the adults he met.
“(As a caddie) I have honed my skills, networking and communicating with successful adults and have learned many valuable life lessons along the way,” said Dellostritto, who loved caddying from the outset. “After completing my first few loops, I knew caddying was for me. Getting to spend a few hours on a course performing a rewarding service for members and guests, while interacting with them and building meaningful connections, didn’t really feel like work.”
Each of the three recipients met the Evans standards of high academic record, financial need, at least 100 caddie rounds and community service, with all three having participated in two or three school and charitable clubs. Evans Scholars far exceed average graduation rates and GPAs of the colleges they attend. Across all chapters, Evans Scholars maintained a 3.3 GPA last year.
Well known in the Midwest, where caddie programs continue to flourish, the Evans has in the last five years made efforts to promote the scholarship in the East. In 2019, it opened the first scholarship house at Penn State, and caddies from Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey will receive the scholarship this year.
Congratulations to Alex, Alejandro and Mark for being among the country’s elite high school scholars and continued success at the next level.