Two Basalt caddies earn Chick Evans scholarships to CU
March 5, 2018
A goal that seemed so distant when they started lugging golf bags as caddies at the Roaring Fork Club five years ago finally became reality recently for Oswaldo Morales and Samuel "Alex" Seibert.
Both seniors at Basalt High School last month earned a four-year Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder. Their tuition and housing is covered.
The classmates started as caddies in the summer after eighth grade and stuck with it despite challenges of having to compete with older kids for business and working up through the ranks. And, of course, there were all those hot summer days lugging heavy golf bags around a fairway.
The young men admitted they questioned at times what they were doing when their friends were making $15 per hour working on their tans at the Basalt pool as lifeguards. But they kept their eyes on the prize.
"We knew that if we worked hard we'd be able to get that scholarship," Morales said.
The two young men were the 14th and 15th winners of the prestigious scholarship among caddies at the Roaring Fork Club over roughly 14 years.
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It's no coincidence that Basalt has had so many winners for the scholarships despite the competition, said Greg Bryan, head golf professional at the club. This year, 38 applicants advanced to the final stage in Colorado and 13 received scholarships.
"The support of our caddie program is unlike any other at the seven clubs I've worked for," Bryan said.
Even though the Roaring Fork Club isn't the primary club for many of its members, the support for the caddie program and for the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship is tremendous, he said. Some members make a point to take young caddies under their wing and give them an opportunity.
Morales and Seibert seized their opportunities. To earn the scholarship, applicants must work a minimum of 50 loops or rounds during their caddie careers, maintain at least a 3.5 grade-point average, demonstrate good character, fill out lengthy applications and go through a potentially intimidating interview process.
Seibert figured he worked about 115 loops while Morales logged 92. Neither was into golf all that much when they started. Seibert said the different perspective as a caddie gave him a greater appreciation of the game and he started playing more often himself.
Morales also took a liking to the game.
"Once I started caddying, it got addictive," he said.
Bryan said there is a high attrition rate among the caddies. The club has open enrollment each summer. The numbers dwindle almost immediately because most 13- and 14-year-olds aren't used to carrying a 30-pound bag 7½ miles around an 18-hole round. Persistence pays off.
"If you keep showing up and doing a good job, you'll get the requests," Bryan said.
Club members can request a specific caddie. Once they start getting enough requests, the caddies can tailor their work schedules rather than just showing up and hoping to gain a loop.
Seibert and Morales raked in requests as they got older.
"They've kind of become part of our little family here," Bryan said.
Seibert said the biggest pressure for him was getting asked for advice on how a ball would break on a putting green.
"If you give a good read it feels good," he said.
Seibert cited Tom Danis, a founder of the Roaring Fork Club and member, as being a particularly important mentor for him even though he didn't start caddying for him until this year.
Morales said club member Clarke Nims was his mentor.
"He's been there since the beginning," he said.
Both caddies credited Bryan with their progression and getting them through the application process for the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship.
"He pretty much held our hands through the process," Morales said.
The scholarship winners are notified by mail of the selection committee's decision. It was fitting that after all the sweat and toil over the past few summers, the boys had to wait a few extra days to learn their fate because the mail was delayed by a snowstorm
While they acted like there is no pressure, Morales said, "the wait was killing us."
He has been accepted into the Leeds School of Business at CU. Seibert will enter the school of arts and sciences and is leaning toward pursuit of a career in medicine.
CU was at the top of Seibert's list. He looks forward to mixing in with a diverse crowd and getting out of a small town where he knows everyone in his school.
Morales said he had visited CU as part of Roaring Fork Pre-Collegiate, the school district's program for students who are the first generation from their families to attend college. Oswaldo's older brother, Hector Morales Jr., earned a full ride to Duke University in 2012. Oswaldo said the Chick Evans scholarship was vital for his college plans.
"It would have been very difficult for me to go to college without it," he said. "This was pretty much do or die for me."