Carrying an extra (and successful) load
Hauling bags of golf clubs around hasn't just been a job for Benjamin Daniels, it's been a joy. And now, thanks to that joy, he's got a chance to go continue his education in college.
Daniels was recently announced as one of 11 Oregon caddies that have received the Western Golf Association's Chick Evans Scholarship, a four-year housing and tuition scholarship worth right at $120,000 over four years.
"I'm just excited because college nowadays is so expensive," said Daniels, who lives in Canby but attends Molalla High School. "With this, I won't have to pay for the majority of the expenses. That takes a pretty big burden off my chest."
In fact, the scholarship he received is something of a tradition within his family, with an older brother and two sisters also earning the scholarship over the years.
While most Oregon recipients attend the University of Oregon, Daniels' award will go toward his enrollment at the University of Washington in fall 2019. That's where his brother is, while both sisters are at University of Oregon.
Recipients of the scholarships are selected based on four criteria: a strong caddie record, excellent academics, demonstrated financial need, and outstanding character. The selection process culminated in selection interviews at Oswego Lake Country Club in Lake Oswego on Feb. 21.
"Each of these deserving Evans Scholars epitomizes what our program has been about since its creation in 1930," said WGA Chairman Frank Morley. "Their dedication, hard work and sacrifice is humbling, and we are honored to be able to help them pursue their dreams."
Daniels has been caddying since he was eligible at the age of 13. For five years he's carried bags and gotten to know golfers at Waverly County Club in Portland. Additionally, he has spent two months each summer for three years caddying in a program at Sankaty Head Golf Club in Siasconset, Mass. The "caddie camp" in Massachusetts offers Daniels even more of a diverse realm to meet new people.
"I really enjoy just being able to talk to the members and listen to what they have to say," said Daniels. "They are all pretty successful, so it's interesting to talk with them. I also like talking with the other caddies to find out more about them."
This walk down the successful caddie trail began when he was 11 years old. He was in Portland to play golf when he ran across the First Tee of Greater Portland program. There he found some information about caddying, and though he had to wait a couple years to get into it, he found it just to his liking. First Tee also was the source of information for the caddie camp each summer.
"I was pretty anxious to get out there and start," Daniels said of his desire to train and then caddie. He noted that he applied for the Massachusetts caddie camp during his freshman year, got in, and has been spending a big chunk of each summer there since.
And while he'll do it again this summer, the fall will be quite different. Getting this scholarship has seen to that and it was a process that took some time.
"You have to fill out a general info thing, then write an essay," he said. "For me, the essay took some time. I had people read over it and made sure everything on my application was perfect. The whole month of September I just sat down every day after school and reread it again and again."
Once past that phase, he was invited to the interview process, which included a room full of golf officials. The longer he waited, he said, the more nervous he got.
"I wasn't nervous until I got there," he said. "I was there for three hours before my interview, so every single minute I got more and more nervous, but once I got on the podium, I had a blast."
Once enrolled at UW, he'll pursue his interest in accounting. "I'm going to just see what happens when I get up there," he said.