Golf is our middle name
The Western Golf Association began in 1899, when a group of men got together to form an organization to promote golf in the western region.
It was in Golf, Illinois, where the WGA established its headquarters - a fitting location for a new organization determined to put golf on the western map. At the nearby Glen View Club, the WGA held its first Open and Amateur Championships to showcase the exceptional talent of golfers who called the west their home.
It was not long before the WGA gained a reputation for excellence - across the nation. Today, the WGA's BMW Championship is the second oldest professional championship in the United States, the oldest on the PGA TOUR, and one of the TOUR's premier events.
The Western Amateur has also taken its place among the great championships in the game, and our Western Junior Championship, added to the WGA tournament schedule in 1914, is the first such competition in the history of American golf.
Caddies to college
In 1929, famed golfer Chick Evans Jr., asked the WGA to administer the fund he had established some years earlier to send deserving caddies to college. He could think of no finer organization to entrust his legacy and grow his vision.
In 1930, the WGA awarded its first two scholarships to caddies Harold Fink and Jim McGinnis. They would attend Northwestern University, the same school where Chick Evans had studied.
Until World War II, all Evans Scholars continued to attend Northwestern, and it was here that the first Evans Scholars Chapter House was established. Tuition to Northwestern in 1930 was $150 per year, and plenty of Chick’s money was left over. Naturally, he wanted to do more.
The WGA had to find more caddies. The WGA board established three requirements for selection: scholarship, fellowship and leadership. Using this criteria, they selected a dozen more caddie scholarship winners. The WGA Directors participating in the selection process came to realize the impact of Chick's dream on the lives of young men with limited access to a college education.
When Chick’s original investment was exhausted, the WGA Directors perpetuated the caddie scholarship program by leaving money on the board room table after a day of interviews and selections. This “collection plate” process was the sole means of revenue through the early 1940s, when WGA began to solicit funds outside the Association.
The first Evans Scholarship House was established at Northwestern University in 1940. It is the Scholarship House concept— Evans Scholars living and learning together — that makes the program unique.
In 1949, Roland F. “Mac” McGuigan, Dean of Men at Northwestern and Faculty Advisor to the Northwestern Chapter of Evans Scholars, was appointed WGA's Educational Director. During his nearly 40-year tenure, 13 new Scholarship Houses were founded, bringing today's total to 15. In order of their founding, Evans Scholarship Houses can be found at: Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Marquette, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue, Colorado, Missouri, Indiana, Miami, Northern Illinois and Oregon.
Today, the Evans Scholars Foundation has become golf’s favorite charity. More than 28,700 Par Club members contribute annually in Chick’s honor to the Evans Scholars Program so the WGA can continue to meet tuition and housing costs that exceed $17.5 million each year.
More than 500 men and women from the many golf clubs affiliated with WGA served as Directors of WGA. These Directors, nicknamed “Greencoats” for the green blazers they wear, are involved in the activities of the Foundation, giving generously of their time, attention and financial resources.