Nine years ago, when Kezia Setiawan moved with her family from Indonesia to Southern California, her parents were hoping to provide her with a solid education.
It appears she’s getting that and then some.
The recent St. Monica Catholic High School graduate will go to college on a full scholarship that she earned through her work as a student and, yes, golf caddie.
Setiawan, who is planning to attend Purdue University in the fall, received the award after going through the Western Golf Association’s Caddie Academy.
“My parents decided that America was an opportunity for their children to have a good education, and a fair one,” said Setiawan, who has an older brother and younger sister. “To get this scholarship means that all their hard work has paid off. I’ve relieved some of their stress, their financial burdens, so they can focus on my siblings.”
Setiawan and fellow St. Monica alumna Sarahi Ortiz both landed the college scholarships after participating in the Caddie Academy, through which students learn as much about life skills as they do about golf. The academy program is funded by Western Golf Association director Fritz Souder and by proceeds from an annual women’s golf invitational.
The money for college comes via the Chick Evans Scholarship program, which is administered by the Evans Scholars Foundation. Named after legendary amateur golfer Charles Evans, the scholarships are funded by foundation members, alumni and tournament proceeds.
“The Caddie Academy provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for dedicated young women to be introduced to caddying and the game of golf,” WGA Chairman David Robinson said in a press release. “Each of these participants reflects the four selection criteria of the Evans Scholarship, including a strong caddie record; excellent academics; demonstrated financial need; and outstanding character. We are so honored to provide these hardworking young women with full scholarships to fulfill their dreams.”
Setiawan said she knew nothing about golf before joining the Caddie Academy, which she heard about from an administrator at St. Monica during her freshman year. But as she advanced through the program, she ended up playing golf in her junior and senior years of high school.
Setiawan is planning to study psychological science at Purdue, a public university in Indiana that’s about 150 miles south of the Onwentsia Club Golf Course in Illinois where she and Ortiz have spent time caddying.
Setiawan said the program taught her about the values of golf, not only as a sport but also as a community-building activity.
“It’s something young people know as boring,” she said, “but it brings up your social network and creates this community where everyone helps each other. A lot of businesspeople play golf because they’re able to have the social networking.”
Ortiz also knew very little about golf when she started in the Caddie Academy, but soon enough she was learning about yardage, placement and golf etiquette. She said the golfers often served as mentors, teaching them new things along the way.
Ortiz, who is interested in becoming a special education teacher, plans to study communication disorders and sciences at the University of Oregon.
“This completely changed my world,” she said of the scholarship. “I’m the first person in my home to be going to college, and this really helps my family out a lot. … This is a stepping stone for kids who don’t have the privileges that other people have. It makes dreams come true.”