Paying It Forward
June 30, 2022
By Jack Mendesh
It’s par for the course in the Minnesota Evans Scholar program that “it only takes one caring adult to change a young person’s life and make a difference in the world.” This has been proven countless times at caddie programs across the state, and particularly at the Elk River Golf Club, thanks to Adam Sharratt. Sharratt, who grew up caddying at Oak Ridge Country Club in Hopkins and has been a youth hockey coach in Elk River for the past 14 years, is a member at Elk River GC and cares deeply about helping youth, which is why he launched a caddie program at the semi-private club in 2018.
“The thought of starting the program was to take one of the best experiences I had as a kid (caddieing) and connect the membership at the club with the youth of the community. I knew about the Evans Scholarship but had no idea how the caddie program would be received,” Sharratt said.
As it turns out, many of the members had caddied when they were younger and saw the potential of the program. This Spring, seven members took time out of their days to meet the caddies, offer genuine advice and help with training, which was an encouraging change from four years ago when Sharratt trained the caddies himself. Another 10 members are committed to being Caddie Ambassadors, who are expected to take caddies as often as possible, spread the word of the caddie program, and mentor the youth caddies. There has been a lot of progress in the caddie program over the last four years due to the commitment from the membership and youth of Elk River.
The ultimate goal of starting the caddie program is to have as many Elk River youth community members receive the Evans Scholarship as possible but more broadly, Sharratt wanted to strengthen the bond between the club and the community by giving caddies the opportunity to interact with leaders in the community. The new class of caddies this year is heavily made up of youth golfers who play multiple sports in Elk River and is as diverse as the program has ever been. They make it a goal to recruit 15 female caddies each year and are on track to meet that objective.
“All in all, our program directly resembles the values and demographics of our community.” - Adam Sharratt
Since the program was started, they have amassed 500 youth caddie loops. This year alone, their goal is to have 500 caddie loops, a goal they believe is attainable as they are opening the caddie program to the public, whereas in years past it was only available to the membership. Sharratt believes that by opening the caddie program to public play, the caddies will be exposed to more caddie opportunities and people within the community. While the numeric goal is 500 loops, there are other success factors.
“Just to look out at the course on a weekend afternoon and see the red bibs walking the course, seeing 20-30 caddies carrying bags in a tournament or seeing a group of eight walk up the 18th hole makes this program a success. Metrics can be put in place to measure success of the program, but in our eyes, you can just look out and see it,” Sharratt explained.
Jack Mendesh is the MGA’s caddie development manager, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.