Western Open 
Caddy Story
 Tribute 
by Rich Schlaak:

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Here's a Caddybytes caddie's story by a tour caddy and former Evan's scholar Rich Schlaack first came out to caddy on tour for Lee Rinker in 1995.  After working for Lee a couple of years he moved on to caddy for several different players.  Rich took a leave to sell insurance and came back on tour in 2001 capping off his return with a win with Steve Flesh in the 2003 HP New Orleans Classic.  This story was entirely written, by Rich, for the readers of Caddy Bytes during the week of the 2002 Western Open Golf tournament:


This week, the Advil Western Open is being held in suburban Chicago. While it is considered one of the premier Tour events; the second oldest tournament, and a great venue in a great city, and TIGER plays almost every year, to this caddie it means a great deal more. As an Evans Scholar alum (Miami University 1989), it is a week to say thanks to the great people of the Western Golf Association, meet and reunite with Scholars, make my Par Club donation, and have a constant reminder of all of the great things that caddying has meant to my life.


The history of the Evans Scholarship program has been documented, but I doubt if Chick Evans could have ever dreamed that his idea of sending deserving caddies to college would turn into the largest privately funded scholarship in the world. I think that is goes without saying that Chick couldn't have picked a better group to administrate the scholarship than the Western Golf Association. Class after class, the WGA has helped young men and women attend some of the finest institutions in the country, and maintain unprecedented academic standards and graduation rates.


I know from my experience that having upperclassmen to live and interact with was a tremendous asset, as well as being put together with a group of people who have things in common. I don't think that you will find a more loyal and grateful group of people than Evans Scholar alumni, whether it is volunteering for this week's tournament, fundraising and personal contributions, or just giving back to a local caddie program in their area. I know I try to thank every person that I come across while on Tour who dons a Par Club hat or bag tag. It is hard to put into words what four years of tuition and accommodations at the chapter house can mean to a family.


It is also hard not to think about all that caddying has meant to me in my life. In a word, relationships are far and away the most valuable thing that I have been blessed with through caddying.  From Ted Williams, my first caddie master to the doctors, lawyers and CEO's (way too numerous to name) that knew me by name and took and interest in what was going on in my life, the friends I made in other caddies, pro shop workers, Rudy Gimbrone the head golf professional who gave me a job in his shop and later as an assistant pro, I can't say enough about my time and experience at Moraine Country Club in Dayton, Ohio. I hope that caddie programs do not become an endangered species, because it is the best job any kid can have. The people that caddies get to meet are the true role models, because they are an example of what can be accomplished through education and hard work, not the rock stars or athletes.


It also got me interested in the game of golf, something that probably wouldn't have happened until I couldn't play any of the other sports competitively and turned to it. Caddying for members in the Ohio Amateur, US Amateur qualifiers and other tournaments got me interested in trying to play as well as I could. Unfortunately, I was never much of a player, but enjoyed being around good golf. In 1992, I got the opportunity to work for Greg Hickman at the Honda Classic, and found myself in the second to last group on Sunday, as well as getting hooked on the idea of caddying on Tour. It was a while before I found myself doing it full time, but it sometimes takes a person to realize that the job he had as an eleven year old is the job he is best at.


Since my first year on Tour, in 1995, I have made lifelong friends, seen places, courses, countries and cultures that I doubt I could be exposed to in any other field, and had a blast doing it. It isn't all roses, but what job is?  Every year, early July, I find myself driving from Cincinnati to Chicago and reflecting on how I got where I am; what if this had happened, what if that? Who doesn't look at their life in such a way from time to time. All I know is that caddying and the Evans Scholarship gave me options that I am forever grateful for. Other than a major, there is no Tour event that I would like to win more than the Advil Western Open. To all Par Club contributors and WGA directors, I say thanks for all you do and have done.


                                                                      Scholar Rah Rich Schlaack

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