|Western Golf Association/Evans Scholars Foundation Championships since 1899 -- Scholarships since 1930|
The Western Golf Association was founded in 1899 by 11 Chicago-area golf clubs. Today, more than 500 member clubs in states throughout the nation support the WGA, sponsor of three national golf championships and the Evans Scholarships for caddies.
Headquarters for the WGA and the Evans Scholars Foundation are in Golf, Ill., which also is home to the Glen View Club, host of the first Western Open and Western Amateur championships in 1899.
In 1914, the Western Junior championship, the first such national competition in the history of American golf, was added to the WGA tournament schedule. The WGA continues to conduct its annual PGA TOUR event, the BMW Championship, and the Western Amateur and Western Junior championships.
Since 1930 the WGA also has sponsored the nationally-acclaimed Evans Scholars Foundation, which administers the nation's largest privately funded college scholarship program. The Foundation, established by famed Chicago golfer Chick Evans, has provided college educations to more than 9,000 former caddies.
This year more than 830 scholars are attending college on Evans Scholarships. Most Evans Scholars attend one of the 14 universities where the Foundation owns and operates a Chapter House. The scholarships are funded through contributions from more than 100,000 golfers, including 36,000 WGA Par Club members. All proceeds from the BMW Championship also benefit the program.
Since its founding in 1899, the Western Golf Association has conducted more than 260 championships for professional and amateur golfers from throughout the United States and worldwide. The three WGA-sponsored tournaments have featured the nation's top professional, amateur and junior golfers.
The BMW Championship trophy, the J.K. Wadley Cup, has been engraved with names like Walter Hagen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Nick Price and Tiger Woods. The Western Amateur's list of champions includes Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Lanny Wadkins, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange and Woods. And the Western Junior has been a testing ground for stars of the future, such as Woods, Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Bobby Clampett and Willie Wood.
The WGA is governed by volunteer officers and directors. Richard E. Peterson, of Park Ridge, Illinois, is WGA chairman, and Edward R. James, of Winnetka, Ill., is past chairman and chairman of the ESF Trustees. Donald D. Johnson is WGA/ESF president and CEO.
WGA officials and Evans Scholars Foundation trustees share a love for golf and a willingness to give of themselves to serve the best interests of the game and of the programs they serve. WGA board members, who serve without pay, assist in many ways: fund-raising, caddie matters, tournaments, scholarships, legal matters and administrative affairs.