A Full Ride
Grugen wins Evans Scholarship

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J.T. Grugen in Northern Ohio last week for final interviews on his quest for an Evans Scholarship.

Knight Times Staff Report

Working as a golf caddy may not pay much, but the job has just paid off big time for KHS senior J.T. Grugen.

After three years of shouldering golf bags and pursuing a dream, Grugen, 18, is now officially an Evans Scholar, with a full-ride scholarship to Ohio State University.

The package arrived early Thursday, and Grugen knew he had won. 

“I could tell right away when I picked it up off my porch and read who it was from that I had gotten the scholarship,” Grugen said. “They sent me a packet of information that’s thicker than the school planner. I figured they don’t send that to people who didn’t get it.”

And get it he did. What, after four years of paid tuition, room and board, could easily amount to well over $100,000 worth of free education and a future in marketing, perhaps a job in Major League Baseball.

Each year, about 800 caddies nationwide are awarded the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship from a charitable trust overseen by the Western Golf Association. According to the scholarship website, selected applicants must have a strong caddie record, excellent grades, outstanding character and demonstrated financial need. The scholarship has a long tradition, since 1930, but many outside the golf community are not aware of it.

Grugen began caddying at age 14, already with an eye on the scholarship, and never looked back. He has caddied nearly 120 rounds of golf at the Kenwood Country Club, meeting local sports celebrities such as Chris Sabo of the Reds and Bengals players Leon Hall, Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict.

He credited his late father with fostering his love of golf and starting him on his path. His family moved to the Dayton area from Detroit when Grugen was 10, then to Kings in 2008. Losing his dad two summers ago was difficult, and it would have been easy to give up.

“The hardships weren’t easy to overcome. I’ve had to leave behind a place I considered my true home, lost my dad unexpectedly over a year ago, and my family lives on a paycheck to paycheck basis,” he said. “There were plenty of opportunities where I could have taken my ball and gone home, accepting what has happened over the past few years as my cue to quit.”

But Grugen persevered, and said winning the scholarship has brought him “a once in a lifetime feeling of accomplishment.”

Grugen is also accomplished in school. An honors student with five AP classes on his resume, he has also worked as sports editor of The Knight Times since he was a freshman, focusing on professional sports analysis. His monthly column “The Hot Corner” provides predictions and insight into NFL and MLB schedules, prospects and post-seasons.

Sports is his passion, effort his reward.

“I think anyone that puts the effort and passion into what they do can be successful no matter what their background story is,” Grugen said. “Too many people look to become an overnight success story but those cases are few and far between. There are those that seek opportunities and those that make opportunities. If you can re-invent yourself, with enough hard work, you will find success.”

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