Fore! full rides

Kaelyn Makela is the fourth of a Grafton family to earn the Chick Evans Scholarship through caddying and will attend UW-Madison for free

Kaelyn Makela is a caddy at two different clubs and has earned the Chick Evans Scholarship. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

It’s not a spoken family tradition, but Kaelyn Makela of Grafton is the fourth and final of Paul and Lisa’s children to earn one of caddying’s highest honors.

Through caddying, Kaelyn received the Chick Evans Scholarship, offering a four-year full ride — including room and board — to one of several universities.

Kaelyn found out she earned the scholarship before Christmas. Her mother texted her that a package arrived in the mail and she could feel the Evans Scholar banner through the envelope.

That completed the quartet. Her siblings Shannon, Hailee, Tommy also attended college for free, and their aunt was one of the first Evans Scholarship winners.

“We paid nothing, and they’re loan free,” their mother Lisa said.

“But they’ve always known that college was their responsibility and not ours. That may have helped them work a little more toward it.”

The four children’s aunt was one of the first

By the time Tommy received the scholarship, Kaelyn was next in line. But there wasn’t any pressure.

“That was never said to me,” she said with a laugh.

She is the most academically accomplished of the four, earning straight A’s while taking several Advanced Placement classes at Grafton High School, and she scored 31 on the ACT.

Kaelyn has chosen to follow in the footsteps of her siblings and attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she recently was accepted.

The senior was also accepted at Ohio State and Minnesota, but she wanted to be a Badger and study animal science.

Her start as a caddy wasn’t easy. Tommy was still a caddy at the North Shore Country Club in Mequon but Kaelyn had to make her own name for herself.

“I didn’t know much, and I wasn’t very good,” she said.

During her first round, she lost a club and had to go back to a different hole and retrieve it near a bunker.

“He (the golfer) paid me the least I’ve ever made,” Kaelyn said.

Carrying golf bags of weighing from five to 40 pounds ­— she has seen golfers store 30 golf balls in their bags — and trying to stay ahead of players while replacing their divots wasn’t easy for the then-13-year-old, who said she “was panting the whole time.”

During one 95-degree day, she put a wet towel around her neck was lagging behind the group.

“My golfer thought I was going to pass out,” she said.

Rounds often start at 7 a.m. and last four hours.

“I’m not really a morning person,” Kaeyln said, but said she came to appreciate the early rounds before the heat and humidity really kicked in — she doesn’t like being hot and sweaty.

But Kaelyn stuck with it, just like her siblings.

Now a five-year veteran, she has become an expert on reading greens, despite not taking up the game herself. One golfer bought a book on the North Shore’s greens but never took it out of his bag, instead trusting Kaelyn’s eyes.

Two golfers regularly request Kaelyn to caddy for them. They know her so well that they hold casual conversations through the entire round.

She is good at finding balls and getting them out of the water, and once was essentially used to help market the North Shore club when the club president had her caddy while he golfed with a prospective member.

Kaelyn has witnessed one hole in one. A member in her golfer’s group bounced it on No. 3 on the Blue Nine during her first year. If it would have happened in a tournament, the group would have split hundreds of dollars.

She has seen an albatross — a double eagle — on a par five, watched players crank 350-yard drives and has heard her fair share of creative language.

“It does make it a little more entertaining,” Kaelyn said.

Pouring rain isn’t so bad, she said, except when golfers go inside and wait for it to stop, which lengthens the day.

It didn’t take Kaelyn long to realize she needed waterproof shoes, even in dry weather. Morning dew got her feet wet.

Sometimes, Kaelyn caddies for more than one golfer at one time. Once, she caddied for four people with all four bags on one golf cart and got $250 in what she called a fun round. Another time, she got $100 to push a pull cart.

Minimum caddy pay ranges from $30 to $50 per round, depending on their level. Kaelyn is at the top.

While all four Makela children caddied at North Shore, Kaelyn had to navigate a different challenge than her siblings.

When the pandemic hit, North Shore paused its caddy program. Kaelyn went over to the University Club, formerly Tripoli, in Milwaukee. That course has more hills than North Shore, and she had to adjust to different rules. North Shore keeps its rakes in the bunkers while University Club has them on the side.

“Going to a different course made me a lot better,” Kaelyn said.

Her mother was just happy she or her husband didn’t have to play chauffeur a few years into her caddying career.

“The greatest part about caddying for the parents is when they get their driver’s license,” Lisa said.

When North Shore opened back up for caddies, Kaelyn split time at both clubs, along with working part time at the Cedarburg Veterinary Clinic.

She caddied at Chenequa Country Club once for the Evans Cup. That course had even more hills, covering eight miles to the University Club’s six.

“My friend and I were joking that if you caddied here you’d look like The Rock,” Kaelyn said.

She has seen her fair share of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, fish and five-pound frogs. Once, a turtle walked across the fairway.

“With caddying, it’s four hours of straight golf and I have to find things to entertain me,” she said.

Kaelyn wants to work with different animals as a small animal vet.

She held a large snake around her neck when she was in second grade, and fell in love with dogs through her baby sitter, who had a Dalmatian, and a neighbor’s dog.

Kaelyn said she has plans to own large dogs, but her experience has been limited so far. Her mother is afraid of the big creatures and is allergic to cats,

At Cedarburg Veterinary Clinic, she works as a kennel assistant, helping to walk, feed and give medicines to animals that are boarded, as well as clean their cages. She wants to train to be a vet tech assistant and stand in on surgeries.

“I think I’ve known since I was 5 I wanted to be a vet,” Kaelyn said.

 She balances her jobs, more than 200 hours with 4-H, volunteer work for community events and at St. Joseph Church, and has taken up skiing.

She will continue to caddy during summers.

For more information on the scholarship, visit




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