Basalt’s Noah Johnston adds his name to list of Evans Scholarship winners for caddying

Basalt High School Class of 2024 senior Noah Johnston
Courtesy photo

The endless loops and unrelenting mountain sun made for many long, summer days at Roaring Fork Club for Noah Johnston. But the Basalt High School senior was able to keep focused on the final prize, a full-ride college scholarship that will give him a big head start on his adult life.

“No regrets at all. There were a lot of times where it’s, ‘Damn, this a lot of work,’ or sometimes I wished I had another job,” he said on Thursday. “But always sticking with it, knowing at the end of it I could be paid thousands upon thousands of dollars to go to school, so that is what kept me going.”

On Wednesday, the formal announcements went out that included him as one of 11 high school seniors in Colorado to be awarded one of the Western Golf Association’s Chick Evans Scholarships, a full housing and tuition scholarship for golf caddies that is valued at $125,000 over four years. The WGA, based in Illinois, has been handing out scholarships for caddies since 1930, with more than 12,000 alumni over that time.

Most of the scholarship winners this year come from the Front Range, although joining Johnston out of the Western Slope are Sutton Dodds of Vail Christian and Kale Potter of Palisade.

This isn’t a first for the Johnston family, as Noah’s older brother, Tristan, was one of two BHS graduates in 2020 to earn the same scholarship, along with Tucker Bruce. Tristan is currently a senior at the University of Colorado.

“I got into it with him being a caddie and following in his steps in a way,” Noah Johnston said of his brother. “He gave me a few tips for my interviews with the Evans Foundation. He gave me tips about being out on the golf course and things to do, things not to do. Just get me on my feet and get me going into caddying. He was tons of help when I first started and toward the end of the process.”

The process is long for the Evans Scholarship winners. They need a minimum of two years of caddie experience, strong grades, a financial need, and “must be outstanding in character, integrity, and leadership.” Recommendation letters and interviews are also part of the process.

“You are up at the club hanging around. You are not necessarily getting loops or going out on the course, but you are putting your face out there and just being available if they do need someone to go out,” Johnston said. “Then you really get into it, and those middle couple of years you are grinding out five, six days a week. Some days are double loops, and double loops are eight hour days out on the course, so it’s a lot of being out on the course and out in the hot sun.”

At BHS, he was known mostly for being the football team’s starting quarterback this past fall, where he led the Longhorns to a 7-3 mark and postseason appearance. Football is in the blood for him, as his uncle is former NFL fullback Daryl Johnston, who won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. Daryl currently helps run the United Football League, newly created from the merger of the XFL and the United States Football League.

With Noah’s football career seemingly over, golf has moved into the spotlight for the young caddie, who humbly claims to only being “mediocre” when it comes to playing.

Basalt High School football quarterback Noah Johnston rolls out to pass against Eagle Valley on Friday, Aug. 25, 2023, on the BHS field. The Longhorns won, 49-15.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

“I have good days and then I have bad days,” he said. “I just got into golfing when I started caddying, actually. I had never golfed before, and then once I started caddying, I got a set of clubs and got into it.”

Johnston anticipates he’ll follow in his brother’s footsteps and attend CU Boulder, one of the schools officially linked to the Evans Scholarship. Most in-state recipients of the award end up as a Buffalo. The University of Oregon also remains in play for Johnston, who has yet to fully commit to a school.

He plans to study health sciences, such as physiology or going pre-med, with the hope of becoming a physical therapist or even a physician’s assistant.

“It’s awesome,” he said of earning the scholarship. “Putting all that work in and getting rewarded for it with something so huge and something that is going to impact the rest of my life, going into college and hopefully coming out of college with minimal debt compared to what I could leave with, it’s huge.”