Benjamin Del Vento Sr., former New Jersey State Golf Association president and long-time vice-chairman of the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation and chairman of the Caddie Scholarship Committee, is the 2016 recipient of the NJSGA/NJPGA New Jersey Golf Distinguished Service Award.
The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually by the NJPGA in collaboration with the NJSGA to honor an individual who has provided exemplary service and contributions to growing the game of golf in New Jersey, consistent with the honor, values and traditions of the game.
He will formally receive the award at the annual NJSGA/NJPGA Celebration of Golf on Thursday, Nov. 3 at Liberty House in Jersey City
“I feel very proud but humbled. I’ve been blessed in my voyage through life. I’ve had opportunities that golf has presented me and this recognition of my dedication and commitment to the game of golf is one I will always cherish the rest of my life,” Del Vento said.
As NJSGA president, the Caddie Scholarship Foundation had its most successful fundraising campaigns. In 2009, Del Vento raised more than $800,000 for the Caddie Scholarship Foundation which was distributed to a record 224 caddies, who attended more than 100 different colleges.
Del Vento still serves on the Advisory Board of the NJSGA, and his son, Ben Jr., is on the NJSGA Board of Trustees.
"There is no one involved with the NJSGA who is more devoted and passionate about the role it plays in New Jersey golf than Ben, especially with his efforts for the Caddie Scholarship Foundation. He continues to be a strong advocate for education and his inspirational words and deeds have motivated others to join in making the Foundation one of the best in the entire country," said Daniel Meehan, NJSGA president.
Ed Batta, Caddie Scholarship Foundation chairman, has worked hand-in-hand with Del Vento in serving the NJSGA for nearly three decades.
“Ben has never forgotten what the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship meant to his life and career. He has devoted an extraordinary amount of energy and personal resources to building a bigger and better Caddie Scholarship program so that many more young men and women have the opportunity for academic success.
“Ben is solely responsible for generating the single largest contribution in the history of the program, the Babs and Warren Collins Scholarships,” Batta stated.
Del Vento became the first caddie from Rock Spring Club to be honored by the Caddie Scholarship Foundation in 1957, and became the first scholarship recipient to be elected as the president of the NJSGA in 2008-2009.
He began caddieing at The Rock Spring Club at the age of 13, and has been a member at the Club (now Montclair Golf Club) for more than 35 years.
Del Vento received the $500 caddie scholarship to attend Rutgers University alongside 11 other scholarship winners after meeting Rock Spring’s Nestor J. MacDonald, who was one of the founding members of the Caddie Scholarship Foundation. Del Vento caddied for MacDonald for nearly 12 years, developing the bond of a lifelong friendship.
“Mr. MacDonald taught me that giving back is one of the benefits and enjoyments of the game. He also taught me education is the greatest gift,” Del Vento noted. “As I’ve traveled around the United States and the world I’ve met people who understand the value and importance of caddie scholarship and of providing an education to caddies which they will have secured for the rest of their lives.”
At Rutgers, he played on the varsity basketball and golf teams and earned a degree in English. He entered Rutgers Law School with Mr. MacDonald personally continuing Del Vento’s scholarship for three more years. When Ben insisted on repaying the loan, Mr. MacDonald donated the money to the Caddie Scholarship Foundation.
Married to wife Marie for 52 years, Ben is still active as an attorney and works with his sons, Ben Jr., and Matthew.
Del Vento believes that “Education is the most precious gift,” and that is why he continues to support the Caddie Scholarship Foundation today as vice chairman. “Caddieing instilled in me the core values of life and love of the game. It is the best job in the world,” he stated.