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Carrying clubs for college

Paul Valencia
Paul Valencia

VANCOUVER — It is referred to as a loop.

That is when a caddy gets a job, carrying a player’s golf clubs for a round — a loop around the course.

Zach Peros, a recent graduate of Skyview, has had close to 100 loops in his caddy career at Royal Oaks Country Club.

He never imagined, when he first became a caddy, that those loops would combine to make for a life-changing experience.

Zach Peros waits for a loop at Royal Oaks Country Club. As a caddy, Peros earned the Chick Evans Scholarship which will pay for four years at the University of Washington. Photo by Paul Valencia
The logo for the caddies at Royal Oaks Country Club. The Evans Scholarship is a program designed for caddies all across the country. Photo by Paul Valencia
The logo for the caddies at Royal Oaks Country Club. The Evans Scholarship is a program designed for caddies all across the country. Photo by Paul Valencia

Peros is one of three from the state to have been awarded the Chick Evans Scholarship, a four-year housing and tuition college grant offered to caddies. The scholarship for Peros, who will be attending the University of Washington, is valued at more than $100,000.

“I was pretty excited. All the work I put in and all the people who helped me to get it, that was a humbling feeling,” Peros said.

The Evans Scholarship takes into account a person’s academics, financial need, and character. Peros said he believes his hours of volunteering — he has worked with The First Tee program — helped land him the scholarship.

Of course, this is an award for caddies, so he had to excel in that field, as well.

He became a caddy between his freshman and sophomore year of high school. At the time, he never considered anything as significant as the Evans Scholarship.

“I just thought the idea of caddying was interesting,” he said.

Peros is a golfer himself. He advanced to the Class 4A state boys golf tournament while playing at Skyview the past two seasons. Working at a golf course was just natural.

Still, there is a lot to learn to become a caddy. Royal Oaks personnel give prospective caddies two days of training before they can go out on their own.

There is a proper way to repair ball marks, to rake bunkers, to replace divots. There are ways to become more accurate while pacing yardage.

“It was all stuff I’m familiar with because I’m a golfer,” Peros said.

Still, it was educational. And even after going through the training, there is more to learn.

Zach Peros stands behind Ian Johnson and helps Johnson line up his putt at a recent round at Royal Oaks Country Club. Johnson said P
Zach Peros stands behind Ian Johnson and helps Johnson line up his putt at a recent round at Royal Oaks Country Club. Johnson said P

“Hardest thing is to remember not to move around so much when people are putting,” Peros said.

Peros recalled his first loop.

“I was really nervous. I had no idea what to expect,” he said. “After getting in a rhythm, it was pretty easy. It was a pretty successful first loop.”

Now, he is one of the experts among the caddies. He does not have the most loops of the current loopers at Royal Oaks, but he is up there in total rounds.

“The more you do it, it gets easier,” he said.

Caddy Zach Peros looks for the exact yardage to give to Ian Johnson during a recent round at Royal Oaks Country Club. Peros has been with Johnson for several loops over the last couple of years. Photo by Paul Valencia
Caddy Zach Peros looks for the exact yardage to give to Ian Johnson during a recent round at Royal Oaks Country Club. Peros has been with Johnson for several loops over the last couple of years. Photo by Paul Valencia

It turned out the last obstacle in Evans Scholarship process was easier than expected, too. Peros and others were in Seattle for one final interview with committee members.

“We were all there, nervous, not sure what to expect,” Peros said. “We were each questioned for 10 minutes. It was a really short 10 minutes. It goes a lot faster than you think.”

It was more a casual, get-to-know-you thing. Committee members asked about his favorite music, his career goals, and his most memorable moments on the the course as a caddy.

Peros looped for Ian Johnson in the club championship when Johnson finished with his best tournament score.

“Being a part of that was special to me,” Peros said.

He also was credited with helping Johnson, who had a tricky par putt on the final hole of the tournament.

“He said, ‘You got the read down?’ I gave him the read, and he hit it straight in the heart. That was a good feeling,” Peros said.

Johnson and Peros teamed up again recently for a Saturday round. Others in the group noted that Johnson had an “unfair” advantage because Peros was with him. They were joking. Or were they?

“He’s been my caddy on several occasions,” Johnson said. “The guy has the ability to read putts like nobody else. Zach truly deserves this scholarship. I’m going to root him on right through college.”

Every loop is different, Peros said. Some players just want the basics: Carry clubs. Others want advice: Yardage, club selection, putting lines.

Some like it quiet. Others want a conversation.

“All the members out here are easy-going guys,” Peros said. “It’s really easy to caddy for them.”

Zach Peros, a recent Skyview High School graduate, cleans clubs prior to a round as part of his duties as a caddy at Royal Oaks Country Club. His work as a caddy, as well as his academics and character, landed him a four-year college scholarship. Photo by Paul Valencia
Zach Peros, a recent Skyview High School graduate, cleans clubs prior to a round as part of his duties as a caddy at Royal Oaks Country Club. His work as a caddy, as well as his academics and character, landed him a four-year college scholarship. Photo by Paul Valencia

A caddy arrives at the club and immediately gets prepared for a potential round. That includes wearing a caddy bib, then adding extra pencils, scorecards, tees, and ball markers in the many deep pockets the uniform has in its design.

“Grab all the stuff you need for the day,” Peros said. “Anything they could ask you for, you always try to be ready.”

There are no guarantees of picking up a loop on any given day. There might be five caddies waiting for a round, but only three players want a caddy that day.

“If you don’t go out, you don’t get paid,” Peros said. “That’s a little disheartening. Just gotta get through it and come back the next day.”

Caddies at Royal Oaks are paid a regular fee per loop, plus tips.

Peros, of course, is getting paid, big time, for his caddy and academic excellence. The Western Golf Association from Golf, Ill., has supported the Chick Evans Scholarship since 1930. More than 200 caddies earned the scholarship this year.

John Kaczkowski, the president and CEO of the WGA, said this year’s scholars showcased “excellence in the classroom” along with service to their schools and community.

That is what Peros is most proud of regarding this scholarship. Yes, he is an athlete, but it was not his athletic ability that gave him this opportunity.

It was his attention to detail that earned the scholarship.

In the classroom. In the community. And on the golf course.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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