Sheldon High School senior bound for University of Oregon
When Deavin Brownson began working as a caddie at Eugene Country Club in the summer of 2013, he saw it as more than a chance to earn some pocket money.
He saw it as a way to pay for a college education without forcing himself and his mother, Tiffany Brownson, a pharmaceutical technician, to take on enormous debt.
Brownson’s determined vision quest was realized earlier this year, when the 18-year-old senior in the International High School at Sheldon was named one of 10 Evans Scholarship recipients from the state of Oregon for 2016. Other recipients, selected by the Western Golf Association, include Makenna Crocker of North Bend High School, Samuel Lundquist of Reedsport High School and Andrew Peters of Bandon High School.
Nationally, more than 900 Evans scholars are enrolled at universities, and the program has produced more than 10,000 graduates.
The full four-year scholarships cover housing and tuition, and are valued at more than $80,000. The Oregon recipients will enroll in the fall at the University of Oregon, where they will inaugurate a new Evans Scholarship House, located at 1910 University Street, which will house up to 50 Evans scholars and becomes just the 15th such house in the nation.
Brownson’s selection is especially noteworthy in several ways: He’s the first Evans Scholarship recipient to have caddied at Eugene Country Club in 20 years, and he’s following the footsteps of his mother’s dad, David Gault, who in 1956 became just the second Evans scholar from the state of Oregon, and who in 1960 was the first in-state Evans scholar to graduate from the University of Oregon.
On top of that, Brownson dealt with a back injury, incurred when the bus carrying the Sheldon soccer team to Bend was involved in a collision that took the life of a Wilsonville woman last September.
“He caddied for me and others through times when he was injured,” said ECC member Tony Vuksich, himself a former Evans scholar who became one of Brownson’s regular customers and a mentor. “He was dedicated. There’s no two ways about it.”
Brownson said Gault, who taught him the game of golf “from pretty much the time I could walk,” suggested that he seek an Evans scholarship and showed him the ropes of caddying. In the summer after his freshman year at Sheldon, Brownson recorded 45 “loops” at Eugene Country Club, 45 more the ensuing summer, and 30 more this past summer, with an average stipend ranging from $40 to $50 per round for regular customers, to somewhat more for guest players.
While maintaining an A-minus average in the classroom — Brownson plans to major in business administration at Oregon — he was learning lessons on the golf course, too.
“He became a great caddie,” said Vuksich, who plays to a 3 handicap. “It got to where he would just hand me a club (without being asked) — he knew what I wanted to hit, he knew the yardages.
“He reads greens better than I do. … He hustles. He just works really hard at it.”
Two of Brownson’s other regular ECC clients, Mike Hartwig and Steve Dignam, also attended college as Evans scholars. Vuksich said his own experience as a caddie back in high school gave him an opportunity to learn life lessons from successful people, and clearly Brownson had a similar experience.
“I’ve built a lot of bonds with Tony and other people out here,” Brownson said. “I enjoy it for more than just the caddie aspect. I enjoy spending time with them. They’re a great group of guys and they make the caddying experience a lot of fun.”
Brownson intends to keep caddying this summer, but he’ll finally be taking an injury-forced hiatus. Playing in a club soccer game for Pelada Football Academy recently, he dislocated his left shoulder for the fourth time, so severely that he had to go to the hospital to have the shoulder re-set. He’ll undergo surgery on Thursday to repair a torn labrum, and he’s hoping that in a few months he’ll actually be able to swing golf clubs again, not just carry them.
Originally published Eugene Register-Guard April 12, 2016.