PHOTO: From left, Dr. Donald Brief, former NJSGA president, Ed Batta, former CSF director, and Brian Hunt, vice-chairman of CSF
Ed Batta, the chairman of the New Jersey State Golf Association Caddie Scholarship Foundation for 35 years, will be inducted into the Caddie Hall of Fame at the annual NJPGA/NJSGA Celebration of Golf on Oct. 25 at the Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit.
During Batta’s leadership, the CSF raised over $9 million in donations and provided more than 2,500 New Jersey caddie scholars with tuition grants.
“I am very honored,” said Batta, 81. “In my eyes, this award is really about the recognition of 70 years of success of the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation.”
“Ed has worked tirelessly to help young men and women achieve their hope of a college education. I know that I speak on behalf of all us, and in particular, those young caddies who have benefitted from the Caddie Scholarship Foundation when I say to Ed, Thank you and congratulations," said NJSGA president Bill Frese.
The Caddie Hall of Fame, located in Chicago, highlights the tradition and importance of caddying by recognizing and celebrating individuals who have devoted their lives to the game of golf through caddying or by supporting the role of caddies.
The Hall of Fame was created in 1999 by the Professional Caddies Association and founded by Dennis and Laura Cone. The Western Golf Association took over formal administration in 2011. Notable members of the Caddie Hall of Fame include Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Gene Sarazen and Charles "Chick" Evans.
“Ed Batta’s devotion to youth caddying and scholarships has had a life-changing impact on hundreds of students from New Jersey,” said Frank Morley, chairman of the WGA, which oversees the Caddie Hall of Fame.
“As a caddie himself, he understands firsthand the life lessons one can learn on the golf course and the personal character that is developed. His dedication to, and enthusiasm for, helping young caddies succeed in life is an inspiration to everyone, and his contributions will certainly have a lasting effect.”
Batta is being inducted as a caddie administrator, an individual whose involvement with caddies and caddie programs bettered the lives of many.
“Under Ed's leadership, the CSF has become one of the preeminent caddie scholarship programs in the country. Ed has worked tirelessly for our youth,” said former NJSGA president Dan Meehan.
In 2011, Batta, who also served as NJSGA president in 1996 and ‘97, received the prestigious NJSGA/NJPGA Distinguished Service Award which honors exemplary volunteer service to golf in New Jersey consistent with the values, honor and traditions of the game. Ben Del Vento succeeded him as chairman of the CSF. “My role with the CSF can best be described as an ‘enthusiastic caretaker.’ The real visionaries were the founders, Dr. Stephen Lee of Canoe Brook and the legendary Nestor J. MacDonald of Rock Spring,” Batta said upon his retirement in 2017.
“Our golf championships touch relatively few at most of our member clubs, but the CSF touches everyone. It has also afforded me the opportunity to put back a little into a game that has given me so much in my life, my career and my well-being. My most enduring friendships were made possible through golf; it is truly a game for life,” Batta said.
The Pedigree of a Hall of Famer
Batta became a caddie at age 14 at the Essex Fells Country Club, then worked on the green staff during high school and college. He also caddied at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., during his time as a student at Villanova University.
He joined Essex Fells Country Club in 1966 and two years ago was granted an honorary membership. Batta played to a four handicap at one point and twice played on the winning team in the NJSGA Best-Ball-of-Four Championship, first in 1971 and again in 1989.
After graduating from Villanova with a degree in chemistry and biology, Batta served in the U.S. Army, then worked for Ayers Laboratories, and eventually for Union Carbide, rising to national sales manager. He also worked for the Niagara Blower Co. as director of sales.
Later, in 1987, Batta and two friends from Essex Fells Country Club purchased Plastinetics, a plastics fabricator and maker of large pipe fittings based in Towaco, N.J. Batta recently retired after reaching the position of chief executive officer. He is still on the board of directors of Annin & Co., the world’s largest maker of flags.
Ed and his wife Virginia were married for 57 years before she passed away in May of 2017. Ed has three daughters, Susan, Lauren and Virginia, and a son, Steven, also a former caddie.
“The fact that the graduation rate for all NJSGA caddie scholarship recipients is close to 100 percent is a tribute to his tremendous effort. Ed, as a former caddie himself, recognized the value of caddying to the game of golf and the important role it plays for the thousands of golfers in our state,” said Del Vento, the current CSF chairman.