National caddie program returns to Woodlands

After a one-year absence due to the pandemic, Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart is once again hosting the Western Golf Association’s (WGA) Caddie Academy for young women. Some 50 participants from across the country are residing in the Lake Forest all-girls college-prep high school’s boarding school. An additional 27 are participating virtually. The number of girls being given the opportunity to caddie daily at golf courses along the North Shore is down this year due to COVID-19 protocols.

Last year’s program was entirely virtual. Faced with changing pandemic guidelines this year, organizers decided that incoming high school juniors and seniors will return in person, while the incoming sophomores will participate virtually.

Woodlands Academy has hosted the event since 2016. Before that, Caddie Academy was based in the Evans Scholarship House at Northwestern University. From an inaugural class of 12 girls in 2012, the program grew steadily and found itself in need of larger quarters a few years later. Woodlands was chosen as its new home based on factors such as location, availability and facility quality.

“Woodlands Academy has proven to be an excellent fit for our young women’s program, and we are very excited about returning this year as well as the future of our partnership,” said Mike Maher with the WGA, who oversees Caddie Academy. “We are so thankful to the staff at Woodlands again this year for their generous hospitality to the 50 young women who are a part of our 2021 program.”

This year’s seven-week Caddie Academy began on June 21. It gives students the chance to earn money, meet role models and learn valuable life lessons by working at participating area golf and country clubs. After successfully completing three summers of the program, they become eligible to apply for the Evans Scholarship, a full tuition and housing college scholarship for up to four years. More than 90 Caddie Academy graduates have been awarded Evans Scholarships since 2012.

In addition to caddying, students partake in team-building activities such as leadership development, standardized test prep, health and wellness activities, and social outings. This summer’s students come from California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Caddie Academy participants are chosen based on outstanding academics, demonstrated financial need, promising leadership and character during their freshman year of high school. More than 90 percent are minorities. Caddie Academy is funded by the Souder family and also receives proceeds from the Women’s Invitational golf event.

Following the success of the girl’s program, WGA launched Boys Caddie Academy in 2017 based at Northwestern University's Evans Scholarship House.

This year’s participating golf and country clubs are Conway Farms Golf Club, Evanston Golf Club, Exmoor Country Club, The Glen Club, Glen View Club, Indian Hill Club, Knollwood Club, Lake Shore Country Club, Northmoor Country Club, North Shore Country Club, Old Elm Club, Onwentsia Club, Park Ridge Country Club, Skokie Country Club, Sunset Ridge Country Club, Briarwood Country Club and Westmoreland Country Club.