Caddies who earn prestigious scholarship now have their own home at UO
Deavin Brownson has found more than simply a place to live in the new Evans Scholarship House at the University of Oregon.
In the three-story building at the corner of 19th Avenue and University Street, living with 30 other UO students who have earned scholarships through their work as caddies at golf courses in Oregon, Nevada and California, he’s found a family.
“I remember my grandfather saying that when he had the (Evans) scholarship, he didn’t really know the other Evans scholars, let alone make great friendships with them. But being in the same house with everybody has brought us all together and really close, and we’ve grown a really great bond.”
The prestigious college scholarship program for caddies was established in 1930 by famed amateur Charles “Chick” Evans Jr., who in 1916 — 100 years ago — became the first amateur golfer to win the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur in the same year. In the program, scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, financial need, leadership and character, and caddie performance over at least two summers.
The full four-year scholarships cover housing and tuition, and are valued at more than $80,000. This year, a record of 935 Evans scholars are attending 20 universities.
The Evans Scholarship House at the UO opened in September in a refurbished building that formerly housed a fraternity and more recently a bed-and-breakfast. It is the 15th such lodging for Evans scholars in the nation, and the first in the Pacific Northwest. In the building, the caddies share furnished rooms that contain a microwave, refrigerator and a bathroom; Brownson’s roommates are fellow freshmen Samuel Lundquist of Reedsport High and Andrew Peters of Bandon High, both of whom caddied at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
There is a communal living area, and rooms for studying — freshmen have mandatory study hours, three hours four days per week — and for meetings. There’s a kitchen with a fridge and microwave, although without stove or ovens for insurance reasons; however, residents can pay for dining privileges at UO residence halls.
Hannah Rice, a senior theater arts major from Portland, said she lived in UO residence halls her first three years at Oregon, and in the last two years, the Evans scholars were placed in the same hall. She said that fostered the beginnings of the sense of community that has grown immensely with the dedicated house, something that had been envisioned since before she enrolled at Oregon.
“It’s completely different now, sharing the space that is truly just ours,” Rice said. “Some of these people, I’ve been rooming with or living next door to for two or three years, but we go home to our ‘family’ now. It’s not just a residence hall, it’s not just a dorm room, we’re going home when we go back to the house.”
Rice is president of the local chapter, which involves networking with the Evans Scholarship Foundation and other chapters nationwide. It’s a role she couldn’t have envisioned at Madison High School when a counselor suggested she pursue an Evans scholarship. A non-golfer, Rice caddied at Rose City Golf Course, a municipal public course.
“It sounded so outside of my comfort zone that I was curious about it and I got sucked in, totally out of the blue, and it ended up completely changing my life, as it turns out … ,” Rice said.
“This is a way to put yourself through school that is so unique, and creates such a tangible, lasting impact. I know alumni who are where they are because of connections they made through Evans scholarships. I would not have probably been able to finance college if not for this, and now I’m going to be able to graduate without debt, and that is such a rare gift.”
Brownson is 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 UO.
Brownson said he believes that the prospect of living in such a residence will encourage more young people to seek Evans scholarships, and more golf courses to promote the use of caddies to foster the program. Nationally, the Evans Scholarship Foundation hopes to have 1,000 scholars in schools by 2020, and is working toward opening houses at the University of Washington, Penn State and Kansas.
“I think the house is a really big stepping-stone for the program,” Brownson said. “I think it’s going to help jump-start programs at different golf clubs. … For people who start caddying it will be very helpful for them to keep that motivation going, knowing they have this to work for.”
(Originally published Eugene Register-Guard, Nov. 8 2016)