NJSGA Celebrates Caddie Scholars and 72 years of Service
The Caddie Scholarship Foundation of the New Jersey State Golf Association celebrated its 72nd year when it hosted its annual Caddie Scholars Reception on June 27 at the Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth, home of the NJSGA.
The honored guests included 40 caddies and members of their families. The audience of more than 100 attendees included current and former caddie scholars, parents, friends, guest speakers, and administrators of the NJSGA.
Guest speakers included CSF chairman Ben Del Vento, CSF Director Bill King, caddie scholars Jack Baker of Rockaway River (Universiy of Vermont, Class of 2023) and Victoria Carson of Roxiticus (Syracuse University, Class of 2020). CSF alumni Traver Davis and Mike McFadden also told of their experiences as caddie scholars.
Baker, an incoming freshman in the honors program at Vermont, is the first recipient of the Edward Batta Scholarship which awards him $10,000 in tuition for each of his four years in college. Baker was a varsity captain in football, basketball and golf and earned a school-record 12 varsity letters at Mountain Lakes High School. He was named Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2018-19, and will major in environmental science at Vermont.
"I'm honored to be the first recipient of the Ed Batta Scholarship. It means a lot to me and my family. I'm proud to be a caddie. It's something I've grown up with through my father (Rockaway River C.C. head professional Greg Baker). As a caddie, I've learned to work hard, be respectful and be personable," Baker said.
"I am a former Ouimet Caddie Scholar in Massachusetts. I've always given back to the NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation and to have my son win the Ed Batta Scholarship shows how hard he has worked," said Greg Baker, who serves on the NJSGA CSF Board of Trustees and as a PGA advisor to the CSF.
Carson, a graduate of West Morris Central High School, is a senior at Syracuse in the Whitman School of Management. She is majoring in accounting and hopes to become a CPA. She currently is an intern at the accounting firm of Ernst and Young in New York City.
Del Vento stated that the Foundation is looking forward to celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2022, with hopes of attaining $20 million in donations. Since its inception in 1947, the CSF has raised nearly $15 million and benefited more than 3,000 caddie scholars in New Jersey.
In 2018-19, $644,000 was presented in tuition funds to 155 caddie scholars, representing 88 colleges and 42 golf clubs.
“Education is the most precious gift,” said Del Vento, himself a caddie scholar, law student and athlete at Rutgers University.
King emphasized the caddie scholars should be prepared to give back to the program.
“Carry on the tradition by passing the game along to a friend. Act as a mentor and enjoy the sport of golf. Be involved in your school, your community and act as a volunteer. Give back to the next generation and respect those who paved the way for you, especially parents and teachers,” King stated.
Davis, a former caddie at Rock Spring Club, plans to spearhead an effort to attract CSF alumni and work with them as a trustee.
McFadden told how CSF scholarships helped unburden his family as he and his two brothers, all caddie scholars at Essex Fells, attended college at the same time.