Neither decided to become a caddie because they necessarily liked golf — it was mostly just a summer job. But that job turned into a passion and combined with a lot of hard work and good grades, Jake Doyle and Tyler Sims have caddied their way right into an Evans Scholarship to the University of Colorado.
“Caddying is the reason I got into playing competitive golf,” Sims said this week. “It wasn’t until the summer between sophomore and junior year when I started looking into college and seeing what I was going to do. Even at that point it was still kind of a dream to have this scholarship. It wasn’t until I was sitting down for the interview a month ago when it was like, ‘Holy cow, this could be a reality.’”
Sims, a senior at Basalt High School, and Doyle, a senior at Aspen High School, both caddie at the Roaring Fork Club outside Basalt and used that to earn a scholarship through the Western Golf Association’s prestigious Chick Evans Scholarship program.
Named after Charles “Chick” Evans, an amateur golfer who competed in the early 1900s, more than 11,000 caddies have graduated as Evans Scholars since the program was founded in 1930. The WGA, which is based in Illinois, dates back to 1899. This year, 14 Colorado caddies were awarded scholarships and will attend CU in Boulder, according to a WGA news release.
“It was a long, but fun process,” Doyle said. “I started caddying the summer going into eighth-grade. And they brought it up during our initial meeting of caddying and I didn’t really know about it. I just wanted a summer job. I just kept caddying and kept mentioning it as I got closer to being a senior and what I would have to do.”
Requirements to earn an Evans Scholarship are broken up into four categories: a strong caddie record, excellent academics, demonstrated financial need and outstanding character. Doyle and Sims began caddying at the Roaring Fork Club in middle school and have each logged more than 100 loops on the bag. Sims, who started a year earlier than Doyle in the seventh-grade, is closer to 160 loops.
“I didn’t really know much when I first started about either playing the game or caddying itself,” Doyle said. “Doing both and always being on the course helped both at the same time. When I played by myself I got better at reading putts, which I would use when I was caddying. Then seeing other players and their course management made me realize how I should be playing my game. It doesn’t matter how far I hit it.”
Of the 14 Evans Scholars from Colorado this year, only Doyle, Sims and Palisade High School’s Kalea Potter come from the Western Slope. The others are from either the Denver area or Colorado Springs.
Doyle and Sims are hardly the first to earn the scholarship through the Roaring Fork Club in recent years. Only last year, Basalt High’s Tristan Johnson and Tucker Bruce both earned the scholarship, Nos. 17 and 18 to be named Evans Scholars through the local club over 16 years. That list now includes Nos. 19 and 20 with Doyle and Sims.
“Caddying has taught me a lot of the mental side of the game. It’s taught me how to work with other people’s game to make them successful,” Sims said. “Caddying, honestly, has matured me a lot. It taught me how to look at older gentlemen in the eyes and shake their hand at the age of 13 years old. Not a lot of kids know how to do that. It taught me a lot of adult actions. It taught me maturity at a young age.”
All Evans Scholars from Colorado attend CU with what is estimated to be a $120,000 scholarship for both housing and tuition over four years. According to WGA, there currently are 1,045 caddies enrolled in 19 universities across the nation as Evans Scholars.
“A special thanks to the professional staff at the Roaring Fork Club who mentor these young people and to the memberships who support this program directly,” longtime AHS boys golf coach Mary Woulfe wrote in an email to The Aspen Times. “I for one am thankful the club continues to sponsor this program and produce results for caddies ultimately changing lives. The membership is one of the most supportive clubs in the nation.”
Both Doyle and Sims plan to study business at CU. Doyle hopes to combine his degree with a minor or second major in environmental science, where he can work with businesses transitioning into renewable energy options.
“I’d be able to help them and be a part of that whole movement, which is going to be the future of how our society works,” Doyle said.
Sims wants to one day take over his father’s business, The 4 Wheelers in Glenwood Springs. He’s long helped work in the shop, which specializes in custom fabrication for Jeeps and other off-road vehicles.
Doyle and Sims plan to keep caddying — it’s actually a requirement to continue the scholarship year-to-year — and will keep golfing, in whatever capacity they can.
“I really hope I can keep golf as a weekly thing. I would like to play a lot when I’m older. It’s kind of a sport you can play forever,” Sims said. “I would definitely like to keep golf and caddying in my future. I would definitely recommend it to other kids my age to caddie. Younger kids as well. And the same with golf — it teaches you so much.”