Golden Valley Country Club's Evans Scholar wants golf to be for everybody

They say some of the biggest deals are negotiated on the golf course. Free college was the deal John Otieno came out with.

“To come out of college knowing that I’m not going to have any student debt isn’t something many people can say,” said Otieno, an Evans Scholar.

When the New Hope native heard about caddying from a high school classmate, he had never stepped foot on a golf course.

“When I told a lot of people I was caddying, they were like, ‘What is caddying? Golf? What?’” he said.

Now entering his sixth season at Golden Valley Country Club, the University of Minnesota freshman has been chosen as an Evans Scholar, a national scholarship program specifically designed for hard-working caddies.

“It offers a real opportunity for these children to actually network and chase their dreams without the debt that many youngsters are burdened with today,” said Andy Weiner, the WGA Golden Valley Director.

Otieno was a baby when his parents left Kenya looking for a better life. It isn’t lost on him that, as a black man, he’s an anomaly on the course.

“Golf is viewed as a white sport and, being African American, and being a person who plays golf, I want to promote golf and for it to be a sport of all colors, all races, all genders,” he said.

Promoting diversity has become a top priority for the Evans Scholars Foundation in recent years, with minorities representing 25 percent of current scholars.

Yet, Otieno says too many of his peers don’t even know this opportunity exists.

“Caddying has been such a blessing in my life and I want other people to experience what I’ve experienced,” he said.

Spend a day on the course with him and the members will tell you, the real blessing is Otieno himself.

“The universe will be a lot better off with young people like John in our midst,” said Weiner.