Holly Stewart will never forget the year she got a four-year scholarship for Christmas.
The letter, wrapped in festive paper and tucked under the tree, was a culmination of years of work and a nerve-online interview Dec. 21, 2021.
The confidence and dedication to her work as a caddie earned Stewart the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholarship for caddies – a full tuition and housing scholarship, estimated at $120,000 over four years.
Stewart, who turns 18 on Feb. 16 and graduates Ecole Victor-Brodeur this June, credits her years as a caddie at the Victoria Golf Club in Oak Bay for the character building, laying the groundwork as she heads to the University of Washington in the fall.
Followed in her older siblings’ footsteps, Stewart joined the caddie crew at the nation’s oldest 18-hole golf course (in its original location) when she was 12.
The Oak Bay teen said the work helped her overcome natural shyness to develop confidence, character and strength while building strong relationships with her fellow caddies, friends and golfers.
“I kind of hated it at first, I was very young and walking on a golf course for five hours wasn’t appealing,” Stewart said with a laugh. She quickly learned to appreciate being and working outdoors, especially at the seaside Victoria club where the people were also welcoming. It provided a breadth of experiences, with people who wanted to share their views and include their young caddie in conversation.
“Caddying helped me grow my confidence, expand my interests and be more team-oriented,” she said.
One regular player she caddies for studied geography and archeology and tells tales of world travels while walking the links, Stewart said. He points out houses that line certain holes and explains how they were built, why they look the way they do.
She credits those relationships, along with mentors, friends and family with her success in earning the Evans Scholarship.
Stewart was serious about the work from the start, according to Jenny Dobell, a Western Golf Association director and Victoria Golf Club member.
“She pushed herself to master all the skills needed on the course. But more importantly, she pushed herself to overcome her natural shyness and develop strong relationships with the members who played in her regular golf groups,” Dobell said.
Considering a future in urban planning, Stewart plans to major in physical geography at the University of Washington, while dabbling in electives such as architectural history and computer science.
Evans Scholars are chosen based on showing a strong caddie record, excellent academics, financial need and outstanding character.
Currently, 1,070 Evans Scholars are enrolled at 21 universities across North America, and more than 11,500 have graduated since the program was founded by famed Chicago amateur golfer Charles ‘Chick’ Evans Jr. in 1930.