The Lochmoor Club was well-represented again with Evans Scholars winners. Pictured are, front row, from left, WGA Director at Lochmoor Mike Pannuto, Kaitlyn Steeves, Brianna Harris, Samuel Plieth and WGA Director at Lochmoor Blake Johnson; and back row, from left, Joseph Rheaume and Thomas Jarecki.

The Lochmoor Club was well-represented again with Evans Scholars winners. Pictured are, front row, from left, WGA Director at Lochmoor Mike Pannuto, Kaitlyn Steeves, Brianna Harris, Samuel Plieth and WGA Director at Lochmoor Blake Johnson; and back row, from left, Joseph Rheaume and Thomas Jarecki.

Photo provided by Blake Johnson


Five Lochmoor Club caddies receive life-changing scholarship

By: Zachary Manning | C&G Newspapers | Published February 15, 2019

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Mike Pannuto remembers having an epiphany after seeing nine Lochmoor Club caddies apply for the Chick Evans Scholarship and just one receive the award.

Pannuto, who is a Western Golf Association director at the Lochmoor Club, knew something needed to change. That’s when he and Golf Service Operations Manager at the Lochmoor Club Steve Backon sat down and retooled the program in the spring of 2014. In the same year, the Lochmoor Club added Blake Johnson as a WGA director.

Now, to become a caddie at Lochmoor, applicants have to go through a rigorous process, which includes providing referrals, copies of report cards and questions about their background in golf, among other things.

After caddies are hired, they are required to bring a parent or guardian to orientation, where the history of Lochmoor is explained and details about the Evans Scholarship program are discussed.

As the caddies continue to grow through the program at Lochmoor, Pannuto, Johnson, Backon and Lochmoor Club PGA Professional John Pershern are keeping track of the progress they’ve made in their time with the club.

With the new process, Lochmoor has become one of the most successful caddie programs in Michigan. The year after retooling the program, Lochmoor had a state-record five recipients. Now the club ranks No. 1 for the Evans Scholars Foundation in the state with 140 alumni, 12 scholars currently enrolled in school and five new scholars this year.

“Our program’s success is a long-standing tradition that is only possible due to the outstanding support of our Lochmoor membership and their continued support in using our caddies, and also their participation financially in contributions to the WGA Evans Scholars program through PAR Club contributions,” Pannuto said.

The Chick Evans Scholarship is a full tuition and housing scholarship named after Charles “Chick” Evans, who was an amateur golfer in the 1910s and 1920s. The scholarship is valued at an estimated $120,000 over four years.

The scholarship is awarded to individuals with a strong caddie record, excellent academics, demonstrated financial need and outstanding character.

The five recipients for this year’s Evans Scholarships from the Lochmoor Club are St. Clair Shores Lake Shore senior Kaitlyn Steeves, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior Brianna Harris, Michigan State University freshman (Grosse Pointe North) Thomas Jarecki, and Grosse Pointe North seniors Joseph Rheaume and Samuel Plieth. All five are or will be attending Michigan State.

Steeves is planning to study environmental science; Harris is looking to major in criminal justice; Rheaume is planning on majoring in mechanical engineering; Plieth will be studying aerospace engineering; and Jarecki is currently studying human biology.

“It means the world to me to receive this scholarship. I wouldn’t imagine my life without it. It’s crazy. The day I got it, it was just one of the highest moments of my life,” Plieth said. “It was just something that I worked for for so many years, and it was just great to know that it all paid off.”

The process of becoming an Evans Scholar consists of an application, requiring applicants to give information about academics, extracurricular activities, family and financial information, along with an essay and letters of recommendation.

Once that information is submitted, applicants wait to hear if they’ve made it to the final interview. This year’s final interview took place at Oakland Hills Country Club, and applicants were asked questions based on the information they supplied in the initial application.

After the final interview, candidates then wait to receive word on whether or not they have been selected to the Evans Scholars program.

For the five scholars from Lochmoor who were selected, it was an incredible honor. However, waiting to hear if they had been selected was a bit nerve-wracking.

Harris remembers her dad bringing the envelope to her room and being scared to open it. When she found out that she had been awarded the scholarship, a wave of emotions hit her.

“I was trying to peek in the envelope without opening it all the way. Then I saw, ‘We are pleased to inform you,’ and I dropped the envelope, and I started crying and jumping up and down. I was amazed,” Harris said.

For Steeves, there were jitters while waiting for the final letter to arrive. But when she got that letter and saw that she had been selected, she was beyond excited.

“It’s an extreme honor looking at the statistics and the history and how many Evans Scholars are actually in our country and traveling the world and have huge jobs. The number of Evans Scholars that have gone on to do such amazing things for the world is remarkable,” Steeves said. “It’s a diverse field, but we’re all connected through caddying. We all started as little caddies, holding golf clubs all across the country, and that’s the coolest thing to me.”

Throughout the process, Lochmoor applicants were aided by the club, former Evans Scholars and many others. Rheaume noted that having assistance and support was a big help.

While applicants are preparing information, the club assists in the application process, writing letters of recommendation and giving moral support, among other things.

“Lochmoor was extremely helpful in the whole process. From the golf staff, current Evans Scholars caddies and the members, they were all very helpful and encouraging during the whole process. Being able to talk with a number of Evans Scholars at the club about the application process and interview was very helpful. Lochmoor Club members and staff play a big part in why Lochmoor has the most Evans Scholars in the state, and I couldn’t be more thankful to caddie there and be given this great opportunity because of people like them,” Rheaume said.

Jarecki also noted that Lochmoor was very helpful in the process. For their help, he sent a few thank-you notes to Lochmoor employees.

“They were huge. They’re pretty high up in the program, so any good word helps,” Jarecki said.

For more information on the WGA Evans Scholars Foundation, visit wgaesf.org.