December 19, 2015

Charles “Chick” Evans Jr.

220px-EvansGardner1916Amateur

1916 U.S. Amateur Finalists ~ Robert Gardner & Charles “Chick” Evans

A Champion Golfer

This year we are commemorating the legendary Charles “Chick” Evans and his unparalleled success as an amateur golfer and founder of the Evans Scholarship Foundation. Click here to see video.

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of legendary victories in the 1916 U.S. Amateur Championship at Merion, in which he vanquished Robert Gardner 4 & 3 in the Championship. Earlier in the summer, Evans won the 1916 U.S. Open Championship beating the best professionals and amateurs of the day.

Evans’ winning performance in the U.S. Open was among the best of his generation. Using just seven hickory-shafted clubs, he fired a two-under-par 286 at Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, the first sub-par finish in Open history and a score that wouldn’t be bettered for 20 years. No other golfer had won both championships in the same year, and only the great Bobby Jones has done it since.

Charles “Chick” Evans Jr. was born on July 18, 1890. His family moved to Chicago in 1893, and five years later, he began caddying at Edgewater Golf Club at age 8. He entered the national spotlight in 1909 with at victory at the Western Amateur. The following year, he became the first amateur to win the Western Open, a feat unmatched for 75 years, until college player Scott Verplank beat the pros.

Evans appeared in 50 consecutive U.S. Amateurs, winning a second in 1920, a decisive 7 & 6 victory over Francis Ouimet, and making it to the semifinals or better 12 times – both records that might never be broken.

The Vision

As Evans’ fame grew, pressure mounted for him to turn professional, but Evans wasn’t interested in playing for money. He loved the game for its purity, tradition and sportsmanship. Still, he couldn’t avoid entering into agreements that brought money his way. To preserve his amateur status, Evans decided any earnings should be placed in an escrow fund. In his era, that could be done, and a golfer could remain an amateur.

Evans, influenced by his mother, Lena, had a plan. His funds could finance college educations for needy caddies. That commitment grew from Evans’ own inability to complete his college education. He attended Northwestern University as a freshman, but had to drop out of school.

From his Edgewater days, Evans knew there were many worthy young caddies who showed academic promise, but whose families could not afford the costs of college. In 1928, Evans persuaded the Western Golf Association to oversee the trust fund, and in 1930, the first two Evans Scholars enrolled at Northwestern University. Chick Evans’ dream had become a reality.

The first two scholarships were awarded to caddies Harold Fink and Jim McGinnis. They would attend Northwestern University, the same school where Chick Evans had studied.

Until World War II, all Evans Scholars continued to attend Northwestern, and it was here that the first Evans Scholars Chapter House was established. Today, there are 14 Evans Scholarship Houses at: Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Marquette, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue, Colorado, Missouri, Indiana, Miami, and Northern Illinois.

The original requirements for selection: scholarship, fellowship and leadership.

Today, there are 910 Scholars at 19 universities across the nation and over 10,000 Alumni. The Evans Scholars Foundation has become golf’s favorite charity. More than 27,600 Par Club members contribute annually in Chick’s honor so the WGA can continue to meet tuition and housing costs that exceed $15 million each year.

His Biggest Thrill

Chick Evans’ golfing career lasted six decades. He triumphed over such golfing luminaries as Bobby Jones, Francis Ouimet, Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen, and competed in an unapproachable record of 50 consecutive U.S. Amateur Championships. And yet, when Chick died in 1979, his biggest thrill from the game of golf was not any of his 54 victories or numerous honors. It was the success of the Evans Scholars Foundation and the young people who were able to benefit from his dream.

Facts:

  • 250 full tuition and housing awards this year
  • 910 Evans Scholars enrolled at 19 universities this academic year
  • Evans Scholarship Houses at 14 universities
  • Comprehensive selection criteria includes academics, financial need, caddie record and strong character & leadership
  • Evans Scholars are campus leaders in academic and extracurricular activities
  • Cumulative GPA is 3.2
  • Graduation rate is 95 percent
  • 10,000+ Evans Scholars Alumni

Funding:

  • Nation’s largest scholarship program for golf caddies
  • Golf’s favorite charity with over 27,600 annual Par Club members
  • Program ambassadors include more than 500 WGA Directors nationwide
  • More than $332 million in tuition and housing scholarships awarded all-time
  • Average total value of an Evans Scholars is more than $80,000 over four years
  • Alumni contributed $8 million in 2014 and $87.8 million cumulatively
  • More than $12.7 million in tuition and housing expenses paid in 2013-14 academic year
  • Program funding: Par Club contributions and major gifts, 72%; tournament and events, 18%; other contributions such as bag tag membership, memorials and bequests, 10%.

Sources: WGA, Wikipedia