Feel The Berne

The Evans Caddie Scholarship Program Exists At The Victoria Golf Club Due To The Tremendous Efforts Of Berne Neufeld, Pictured Here Alongside Angela Bowers, The First Female Caddie From VGC And Canada, To Be A Finalist For The Evans Scholarship - Images Courtesy VGC

By Jenny Dobell

Berne Neufeld is my golf partner. When she hits a great drive I shout, much to her embarrassment, “Feel the Berne!” She didn’t get the reference to that American Bernie, so often in the headlines. While I first did it to tease her (which is easy), I now do it because she is a person whose commitment to a cause reminds me of a political candidate in the heat of a campaign battle.  

And Berne’s cause is the Evans Caddie Scholarship Program.

At the behest of the Western Golf Association (WGA), where she is a Director, Berne brought Evans to Victoria Golf Club (VGC) in 2007. It is the only Evans program in Canada. She built it, alone, from the ground up.

Through the WGA, 4-year scholarships (valued at US$200,000) are awarded to students who have met all the requirements to become Evans finalists. To qualify for the scholarship, students must maintain a B+ or A average throughout high school, give time to a local charity, be of upstanding character, come from a family that is financially challenged, and caddie for 120 loops/rounds.  There are currently over 1,000 Evans Scholars studying across the United States.

Evans Scholars attend one of several US universities where they live together in an Evans House that has been funded by the WGA. The scholars support and encourage each other which contributes to their astounding graduation rate of 98%.

During Berne’s tenure as Evans Coordinator at VGC she has seen six of her caddies awarded this extremely prestigious scholarship. Berne has come to know their families and school counselors intimately as she shepherds them year after year through the program. When they enter at age 12 or 13, she says to each young caddie, “Now you are ours—we will do everything in our power to help you succeed.”

Not only does she stand by them, she starts to transform their lives. By learning to caddie, Berne knows that these young students are learning much more than how to rake a bunker or carry a bag. They are learning how to relate to adults outside of school or their family circle. They are learning how to follow directions from a  group of golf professionals and cooperate with a team of other caddies on the course. They are learning how to show up for work. Early in the morning. On rainy days. On weekends. On holidays. They are learning commitment.

Today we are traveling to Seattle to see two finalists from VGC, Laszlo Torok and Lachlan Stewart, be interviewed before a panel of 80 Directors of the Western Golf Association and other Evans alumnae. They have been working towards this day for four years. Both believe Berne is the reason they have made it this far. (Click HERE to see how Stewart and Torok's interview went) 

This time last year Berne travelled with Angela Bowers, the first female caddie from VGC and Canada, to be a finalist for the Evans Scholarship. Berne was not surprised when Angela won. Angela now attends the University of Washington. Next year Berne has two more young women applying for this prestigious, life changing, scholarship. She is confident that they too will be Evans Scholars.

This spring marks Berne’s last season as VGC’s Evans Coordinator. In her well deserved ‘retirement’ she will be representing British Columbia in the Canadian 55+ Games, to be held in August in Kamloops. You will not be surprised to hear that she has been practicing since she qualified. Last year! Now that’s determination!

There are currently seven Evans Caddies at VGC who are working hard to fulfill their dream of becoming an Evans Scholar. Our numbers are limited, but we are looking for students in grade 8, 9 or 10 who would like to enter this prestigious program.  

For further information and to apply, click on “Evans” on the VGC website/community. Please contact Scott Kolb, General Manager at the Victoria Golf Club, at (250) 598-4321 or email scott@victoriagolf.com if you have any questions.

Interviews will be given on a first-come first-served basis.