The WPGA Scholarship Fund, Past and Present
The clubhouse at Fox Chapel Golf Club
The idea of caddie welfare first surfaced in 1927 when Thomas Jamison of Hannastown Golf Club appointed the Association’s first Caddie Welfare Committee consisting of seven individuals from varying Member Clubs. Edward E. McCoy from Oakmont Country Club served as committee chair. Caddie Scholarships hit the agenda in 1929, under direction of McCoy, when the Association outlined a program and criterion for the selection of caddies eligible for scholarship. The original plan was to establish a scholarship program in the memory of Mr. David M. Weir to award five college scholarships, "one each year for five years," to eligible caddies from Member Clubs of the Association. Unfortunately, it would be until the movement was revived for the final time in 1939 that the program would award a scholarship and evolve into the present day Scholarship Fund.
Little activity occurred in the interim between 1929-1939 with caddie scholarships. The Caddie Welfare Committee remained intact and addressed issues concerning caddies, such as contacting Harrisburg on whether the Child Labor Law allowed a club to employ a caddie over the age of fourteen if the club served alcoholic beverages. But in 1938, Fred Brand, Jr., then from Shannopin Country Club, was elected to the Association’s Executive Committee to fill the vacancy created by the appointment of William H. Duff, II to Vice President. Mr. Brand was particularly inspired by Charles "Chick" Evans who founded the Evans Scholars Foundation of the Western Golf Association. Borrowing from the model of the Western Golf Association, William H. Duff, II, along with Charles K. Robinson and Fred Brand, Jr., jump-started the Caddie Welfare Movement in 1939 not only to help caddies in their work but also to assist the caddies "as future American citizens." To facilitate the program at the club level, a representative from each participating Member Club was named to coordinate the Caddie Welfare Movement.
Much concern loomed over the welfare of caddies all over the United States in the late thirties. There were estimates of nearly 500,000 young men employed as caddies. Caddies often went on strike and demanded higher wages and better working conditions. A superintendent from West Virginia wrote in a 1940 letter to Mr. Duff that he had "found that caddies were leaving home as early as four and five o’clock in the morning. A great many [caddies] left without any lunch and possibly without even breakfast." Concern also stemmed from fights that would break amongst caddies while waiting for a loop, and in certain instances, even cause damage to the clubhouse. Occasionally, a "labor agitator" would "get ahold" of a few caddies at a local club and "coach them for a disturbance" or strike. A club’s Caddie Welfare Committee and Caddie Superintendent even searched elsewhere when an area of the city that had been providing the club caddies became "a hot bed of communism."
The Caddie Welfare Movement helped organize and promote such practices as sending out inexperienced caddies, or "green caddies" as these young men were called, on a training loop with experienced caddies. The Caddie Welfare Movement even went so far as to contact the State Employment Office in East Liberty and sponsored a program where young men could receive training and education for employment after graduation. The young men could also interview and learn of any employment opportunities that the office might have, particularly in government.
The Caddie Scholarship almost came to fruition in the spring of 1940 when the University of Pittsburgh offered the Caddie Welfare Movement a scholarship. Unfortunately, the committee decided that due to "the slow incomplete response over the W.P.G.A. membership in furnishing us the names of the men in charge of their Caddie Forces" they would be unable to construct a solid choice for the scholarship "until there is more advanced development."
Late in 1940, the representative from the Pittsburgh Field Club, Arthur Medlock, urged the club to offer assistance to one of the club’s caddies that was presently attending the University of Pittsburgh. The President, J.M.C. White, stated that the club "would contribute to the support of scholarships at any of the universities in Western Pennsylvania and would either join with other clubs, or perhaps, independently support a scholarship at one of these universities." With this announcement, solicitation of funding for a "scholarship fund" began with a memo to all Member Clubs of the Association outlining the Field Club’s plans. Churchill Valley Country Club and Stanton Heights Golf Club soon agreed to cooperate on an association wide scholarship fund. But no scholarship had yet come to fruition. The funding for Association sponsored scholarships did not materialize.
The year was 1941 and the University of Pittsburgh again offered the Association a scholarship for "the outstanding caddie of the Association" for the tuition of three hundred dollars. The first guidelines for selection were set up and approved with the assistance of the University. A letter was sent to each Member Club to select the most qualified caddie meeting two guidelines. One, the student must have graduated among the upper third of his graduating class. And two, the candidate must need financial assistance. These two guidelines, among others, are still used in the selection process today. The association also needed to know if the caddie’s club would be willing to assist and to what extent.
The Caddie Welfare Committee of 1941, including C.K. Robinson (Chairman), William H. Duff, II (Association President), Wallace M. Thompson, and Fred Brand, Jr. (Association Secretary) and Edward E. McCoy, held their historical meeting June 4th at the Duquesne Club. The committee outlined a memo to the Caddie Master and Caddie Welfare Representative at each Member Club and released the following announcement to be displayed on caddie grounds.
WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA GOLF ASSOCIATION
The Western Pennsylvania Golf Association has developed plans for a scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh for the coming year.
It is also trying to develop plans for scholarships at business schools and at trade schools.
If you are interested please speak to the Caddie Master and he will give you further details.
CADDIE WELFARE COMMITTEE
With the assistance of each participating Member Club, six names were finalized for the selection process and forwarded to the University of Pittsburgh for the final decision. University officials interviewed all of the candidates and it was decided that two full scholarships would be offered, one from the University and one from the Association. The two men receiving full scholarships to the University of Pittsburgh were Leonard Joseph from Highland, who majored in engineering, and William K. Weitzel from Edgewood, who entered the pre-medical course of study. Charles DeFazio from Pittsburgh Field Club received a scholarship to Duquesne University to study pharmacy. Also at this time, the Association received its first private donation to the Caddie Welfare Movement. The donation totaled $300.00.
In 1942 the Association, with donations from its Member Clubs, established an actual Caddie Welfare Fund. Under the new plan, Member Clubs would donate not less than $25.00 or not more than $100.00 to the new Caddie Welfare Fund. An alternate option had the club, after the model used by the Red Cross, designate a weekend day for the Caddie Welfare Tournament. Every golfer that played in the tournament was to donate $0.50 or $1.00. Seventy-five percent of the proceeds were to go to the Caddie Welfare Fund, under the direction of Fred Brand, Jr. as acting Treasurer, and twenty-five percent went to prizes for the participants at each club. The first Caddie Welfare Tournament was held at many participating clubs on June 27th, 1942. Many obstacles were overcome in the first year of the event. Labor strikes at various clubs interfered with the program, but the Caddie Welfare Fund received in excess of $1,000.00 for the first year and the scholarship program of the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association was born. Three more scholarships were awarded to caddies in 1942, with two full scholarships to the University of Pittsburgh and one to the Carnegie Institute of Technology.
Other activities have been used to raise funds for the Scholarship Fund. The two most notable of these activities have been golf outings.
The first golf outing was the Ham-Am Tournament that was hosted at various Member Clubs throughout the Association. The Ham-Am started off as a professional golf and celebrity event that included the likes of Perry Como and Jack Benny, and golfers Arnold Palmer and Paul Hahn. Jack Brand, brother of Fred Brand, Jr., was very instrumental in the success of the Ham-Am Tournament, serving as President of the Ham-Am Association as well as Bob Prince, former Pirates Broadcaster, who served as Association Representative to the Ham-Am Tournament. The Ham-Am Tournament began in 1963 and ran until 1975. In this brief time period, the tournament raised over $60,000 for the WPGA Scholarship Fund and provided many laughs and memories for the players and galleries.
The annual Spring Golf Classic is held in May every year at Laurel Valley Golf Club. This event is different than the Ham-Am Tournament in that it brings together frequent supporters of the WPGA Scholarship Fund for a full day of activities. Chaired by Walt Rankin, the Spring Golf Classic has been equally successful, raising over $50,000 for the WPGA Scholarship Fund in its five-year tenure. The outing is an annual event of camaraderie and fun. Most of the original participants in the First Spring Golf Classic were participants in the most recent.
Since 1941, nearly six hundred students have attended colleges and universities with the support of a scholarship from the WPGA Scholarship Fund. What originally had started as schools in Pittsburgh has now branched out nationally. Presently, the Scholarship Fund partially assists students in such schools as Allegheny College, Duquesne University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris College, Saint Vincent College, University of Virginia and Wake Forest University. Six-new students were added for the 1998-99 academic year for a total of nineteen students and a total annual commitment close to $27,000. Originally set up for caddies only, the WPGA Scholarship Fund now offers scholarships to all club employees.
*Reprinted from "A Century of Golf in Western Pennsylvania," Western Pennsylvania Golf Association, 1998
About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and 33,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund.