Two Basalt caddies earn four-year scholarships to University of Colorado |

Two Basalt caddies earn four-year scholarships to University of Colorado

Tristan Johnston (left) and Tucker Bruce earned Chick Evans Scholarships for Caddies for 2020. The two Basalt High School seniors get a full ride to the University of Colorado.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

Five years of hard work paid off for two Basalt High School seniors who earned Chick Evans Scholarships for Caddies for 2020.

Tucker Bruce and Tristan Johnston were awarded full-ride scholarships to the University of Colorado, renewable for four years. They started working as caddies at the Roaring Fork Club in Basalt in seventh grade.

“I was stoked. I was so happy, beyond thankful,” Bruce said last week. “College is so crazy expensive, so it’s pretty great to get it all paid for. I would have always found a way to go to college but it would have entailed taking out a ton of loans and just putting myself in a ton of debt, so having this is just so relieving.”

Johnston said getting the scholarship was a goal he worked toward for years.

“I think I’ve had it in mind the whole time I’ve been caddying,” he said. “For me it was pretty surreal and amazing (to find out I won) and my parents were super happy and grateful for all the work I put in.

“It’s definitely a huge opportunity to go to college without racking up a ton of debt,” he added.

Both men are considering trying to go to the Leeds School of Business at CU.

Since starting as a caddie at the club, Johnston estimated he put in 100 loops, caddie jargon for a round that a golfer makes, while Bruce said he did about 90.

“I’ve liked that I’ve got to meet new people and learned new things from the people who I’ve caddied for over the years,” Johnston said.

Both said it was a bit daunting to start caddying at such a young age. First, there is the physical labor of lugging 30-pound golf bags for 7½ miles around an 18-hole course that crosses over the Roaring Fork River and under Highway 82 in the middle of the valley. Then, there’s the awkwardness of young teens trying to communicate with older grown-ups. That challenged them to interact with the club members and ended up being an awarding part of their experience.

“For me, it’s definitely the communication skills that I’ve developed from it, being able to talk to such successful people,” Bruce said.

Caddies at the Roaring Fork Club have had phenomenal success earning the Evans Scholarships over the years. This year’s winners make it 18 in 16 years. Ashby Baker earned a scholarship last year and attends Northwestern University. She is working toward a major in genetics with a minor in creative writing, according to her mother, Carlyle Stem.

To qualify, caddies must have a good caddie history, excellent academics, financial need and “exceptional character.”

The scholarship was started in 1930 by the Western Golf Association and amateur golfer Charles “Chick” Evans. Since then, about 10,830 young men and women have graduated as Evans Scholars.

“It’s definitely hard work,” Bruce said of the work and application process. “The only nerve-wracking part was the interview.”

Applicants had to speak in front of an audience of about 150 people in a news conference-style setting, Johnston said.

“Their main goal is to get to know us better beyond just our application. So they asked us a bunch of questions about our interests and hobbies and stuff like that.”

Bruce added, “They were there to help you succeed. They weren’t trying to stump you. The questions were pretty much like, ‘What would the scholarship mean to you?’ and ‘What’s your favorite thing to do?’”

It was about one week between the interview and the notification they had been selected for scholarships. They said they stayed busy with school to keep the uncertainty off their minds. Johnston played football and basketball this school year and he volunteers in the Big Buddy Program. Bruce runs cross country and track, is a member of Key Club, National Honor Society and the Big Buddy Program.

Johnston and Bruce have attended the Basalt public schools their whole lives. They intend to caddie again this summer at the Roaring Fork Club, where they have met a lot of mentors.

“I learned a lot of communication skills,” Johnston said, “and they gave me a lot of advice about working hard and persevering through hard times so you get places in life.”

Regarding his time at Roaring Fork Club, Bruce added, “As long as you’re willing to take criticism and be open with people, that’s the biggest thing. The members have taught me to be a good caddie and whatnot.”

(Editor’s note: This story was corrected to show Ashby Baker earned a Chick Evans Scholarship last year.)

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