Caddying carries Burr Ridge boy to college
A job he started before he was a teenager has led Oscar Barrales of Burr Ridge to a college scholarship and a love for golf.
Barrales, who graduated from Hinsdale Central High School this month, was awarded the Coady Family/Ruth Lake Country Club Evans Scholarship in May. It will pay for his tuition and housing at Northern Illinois University for four years.
The Western Golf Association administers the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship Program which awards scholarships to caddies across the nation with at least two years of experience, who submit letters of recommendation, have good grades and financial need. For more information, look at the website www.wgaesf.org. Jay and Jill Javors of Chicago made a major gift to fund full scholarships for caddies at the Ruth Lake Country Club in Hinsdale in honor of the late Thomas C. Coady, his wife Judy and their family
Barrales is the first person to receive the newly funded Coady Family Evans scholarship, but he is the 29th caddie from Ruth Lake to receive an Evans scholarship.
Barrales’ mother, Carmen, who has worked at the Ruth Lake Country Club for 17 years, encouraged him to apply for the scholarship, just as she had encouraged him to apply for a job as a caddie.
When he was in middle school, Barrales said, “my mom said I should try out caddying.”
The country club hired him when he was 12 years old. New caddies go through training of at least six sessions during which they learn about the country club, who the staff members are, basic golf rules and “common courtesies,” Barrales said. They must pass a test on that material before they start working for the country club.
As a young caddie, “It was nice just to have cash for candy and video games,” Barrales said. “But as I matured, I started saving my money.”
Typically, from late March to May, Barrales would caddy every weekend.
“Once school got out, I would go everyday.”
“I did not like golf very much,” Barrales said. “I didn’t watch it. I didn’t understand it.”
But he said he has grown to love the game.
Caddying everyday at Ruth Lake, Barrales has become very familiar with the course, although he does not have much time to golf there himself. He plays the course about once or twice a week.
“I know basically every corner of the course. I can navigate out of any bad spot I’m in,” he said.
When asked, he shares his knowledge with the golfers, although “most older gentlemen who are members know the course very well,” Barrales said.
Although they and golfers who are playing a tournament at Ruth Lake sometimes ask “how far out they should leave their putt. There are a bunch of spots on every green, where they want to know where it is going to break.”
The most difficult hole is 13, Barrales said. “It’s a long par 5 that has Route 83 to the right the whole way, so it’s very possible you can go out of bounds the length of it, and you have water in front of it. It’s tough love and puts your skills to the test.”
Barrales’ caddying season will be shortened this year when he leaves for college. The scholarship candidates were asked to name several colleges they would like to attend and the Western Golf Association selects one for each scholarship winner. Barrales’ first choice was Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, but Northern in DeKalb was on the list, too.
“They have a pretty good business school. I’m thinking of studying sports marketing.” And, he noted, “I’m glad I won’t be far from home.”